April 12, 2017
April 3, 2017
Book review: First of the Few, 5 June- 9 July 1940
Author: Brian Cull
Review by D.M. Knights, IPMS/USA 17656, IPMS/Canada C6091
Brian Cull is one of my favorite aviation authors. I believe I’ve read nearly everything he’s written, so I was looking forward to his new book, First of the Few. This book covers the RAF operations (including FAA) from June 5th, the end of the Dunkirk (Operation Dynamo) to July 9th, the beginning of the war over the Channel. This is the time period where the RAF is fighting a retreat, covering the British troops as they evacuate from France.
While covering a time period of a little over a month, it was a hectic month with air operations continuing against the Germans while moving from base to base never knowing exactly when the French were going to capitulate. The main focus is on the Hurricane squadrons which were part of the BEF and the AASF. These squadrons had been fighting hard for over a month while constantly moving from base to base as the Germans advanced. They had been badly decimated but still constituted the only air units which could protect the retreating British troops as they headed for the ports in Normandy and southern France to get out of France before the collapse that was inevitable after Dunkirk.
The stories of individual air combats are compelling and the author has done a good job of reconciling the records of the combatants, so that in many cases we know which pilot shot down another pilot in particular combats. However, some of the most amazing stories are the pilots who had been wounded in combat and were recovering in France as they desperately made their way seeking any way to get out of the country. Some pilots made their way, just like ground troops to the ports, while others stole planes from French air bases or civil airports and flew to either the Channel Islands, Britain or Africa.
Also covered in the book are the beginning of the Bomber Command’s strategic operations against both Germany and Italy. It is amazing to read how small these initial operations were considering how big they became by the end of the war.
In addition to the 256 pages of text, the book has 10 pages of black and white photographs. In one of the appendixes, the book lists all the Luftwaffe pilots who were released by the French after the armistice. It includes a number of pilots who went on to become aces, in some cases many times over.
Mr. Cull has a follow-on book scheduled for release later this year. Titled The Thin Blue Line, it covers the month of the air war over the channel in July and August. It is unclear if he will continue on and cover the Battle of Britain proper. I certainly hope he does. List price is $29.95 on Amazon, but shop around and you may find a better deal.
January 18, 2017
This sounds interesting, if a bit far into the future. I’ll be interested to see if they can pull it off.
January 6, 2017
Can’t wait for this one. Here are some CAD renderings and marking illustrations.
December 9, 2016
It used to be that I knew all the model manufacturers, even the small resin and vac companies. Now, there are so many getting into the game that I find out about a new one all the time. Balaton is apparently using 3D technology, at least to do its masters. They have announced an SM-75.
December 7, 2016
Finished another one for 2016. Airfix Hawker Huricane Mk.I
December 5, 2016
Review by D.M. Knights
After the British were driven from continental Europe in 1940, Winston Churchill realized that the British Army would not be strong enough to return for years, yet he saw the need for attacks on the continent in order to maintain a credible threat to Germany and to give hope to the occupied countries. Churchill had an obsessive focus on Norway ever sense the outbreak of WWII, with disastrous consequences in the Norwegian campaign of April-May 1940. Now however, Norway made sense as an area where the hit and run raids contemplated by Churchill could be implemented.
The raid on Vaagso seems a bit weird at first blush as the target wasn’t a radar, gun emplacement or airfield, but rather the target were several fish oil plants. While fish oil plants don’t seem particularly military, the fish oil was used to make vitamin supplements which U-boat crews needed due to the lack of sunlight exposure. Also the fish oil was used to make glycerin, a vital component of explosives.
The town of South Vaagso on Vaagso Island had 4 or 5 fish oil plans. The island was just off the mainland of Norway and was guarded by a small infantry detachment of the Wehrmacht 181st Inf. Div. as well as some naval troops. There were also 6 ancient 10.5cm WWI era German guns on the Island of Maaloy which lay next to the town of South Vaagso and protected its harbor.
This book does an excellent job, in its 80 pages of telling the story of the preparation for the raid, the raid itself and its aftermath. It is an exciting tale well worth devoting an hour or two reading the book. In addition to a well told story the book is illustrated with maps which help make the story clear, as well as many photos most taken during the raid as the British sent along combat photographers so they could exploit the propaganda value of the raid.
I particularly enjoy small unit action stories. This makes this particular book even more enjoyable. If you enjoy the story, you can also read the old Bantam War Book, The Vaagso Raid by Jospeh H. Devins, Jr. which was first published back in 1968. It makes a nice companion to the Osprey Operation Archery book.
November 20, 2016
October 15, 2016
October 5, 2016
I wonder how this Special Hobby kit will compare to the Airfix offering?