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A very good military read

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A very good military read

Old 24th Nov 2010, 00:24
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A bit behind the times but just finished reading Apache Dawn, having already read Apache and Hellfire by Ed Macy. All 3 very good indeed.

Was going to look up the book by the Apache pilot Charlotte Madison, any comments on it ?

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Old 24th Nov 2010, 10:17
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Empire of the Clouds: When Britain's Aircraft Ruled the World

'An exhilarating book. Empire of the Clouds is by turns, thrilling, joyful, wistful and provocative. Bravery and beauty somehow escape the incompetence and capriciousness of officialdom in what is a very British version of The Right Stuff. I loved it.' --Rowland White, author of Vulcan 607 and Phoenix Squadron

'This is a fascinating account of what is likely to be Britain's final foray into military aviation. Mr Hamilton-Paterson is a knowledgeable and accomplished writer and his enthusiasm and his anger are infectious.' --Len Deighton

'From the moment on the first page when a Vulcan bomber surges with monstrous grace round the corner of a hill, this is elegy with all its afterburners on, expert about the engineering of the planes, worshipful of the men who flew them, and furious at the disappearance of the technological Britain that brought them forth.' --Francis Spufford, author of Backroom Boys

'A book of aerial wonder, sonic booms, exquisite aircraft and British heroes, beautifully told.' --Jonathan Glancey, author of Spitfire
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Old 30th Dec 2010, 18:09
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Gulf War One - Hugh McManners

This is the third time that Hugh McManners gets a mention in this thread, although on this occasion it is to recommend a book of his to avoid. While browsing in Waterstone's today I came across his latest tome and skimmed through it. In some ways it is a bit like de la Billiere's account of this conflict, in that it devotes one of its smallest chapters to the air war which presaged a mere 3 days (IIRC) of one-sided ground activity. But what really turned me off was reading supposed quotations from RAF personnel who were talking about the F3 Phantom! It makes you wonder how much else McManners didn't understand about what he was being told.
Avoid it unless you need to raise your blood pressure a bit.
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Old 31st Dec 2010, 10:19
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Agree with the praise for Empire of the Clouds, but did anyone else notice the error with the cover art? Didn't realise there was a variant of the Vulcan with no intake for the port engines!
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Old 31st Dec 2010, 13:14
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David Fiddimore

Davis Fiddimore has written a series of 5 books featuring his hero Charlie Bassett, we meet him as a Sgt Wop on Lancasters, completing his first tour, then goes on to German DP camps in the aftermath of the war, followed by a spell in a civvie nick, Berlin Airlift, and concludes with him back in uniform during Suez. Highly improbable adventures ( rather like Flashman, especially with the fairer sex), but very gritty descriptions of what life was like at that time, the drinking, black market rackets, dodgy Establishment figures,but most of all the flying and military life is perfectly captured.
The books are most particularly non PC, written in the language of the times, if you are an ex Nazi or an Egyptian official these books may cause offence.
The series starts with Tuesdays Child, and concludes with the Silent War, published in paperback by Pan.

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Old 31st Dec 2010, 14:50
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Just ordered "Road of Bones: The Siege of Kohima 1944" by Fergal Keane. It gets a good write up. I'll let you know how it turns out.
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Old 31st Dec 2010, 20:56
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I'm currently about a third of the way into 'Road of Bones' and am finding it to be an excellent read. I'm particularly enjoying the way Fergal Keane gives a very thorough description of the Japanese perspective at every stage, including interviews with quite a few of the surviving players (or their families) on the Japanese side.

My copy of the book is quite posssibly unique, for it has liberal hand written notes added to it from Lt Col Tom Moon, who was there, and he gives his unique spin on the characters of a few of the people mentioned in the book, (he doesn't always agree with Fergal Keane), as well as a four page hand written summation of the book itself. (Tom doesn't 'do' computers.)

Tommy is still alive and well and it was talk he gave on the battle a few months ago (now carefully transcribed by a friend and on its way to the Imperial War Museum) that got me interested in the book.

Tom went to India as a 17 year old private soldier in 1935 and ended up a Lt Colonel in 1945, having been a Chindit and the OiC Signals at the Battle of Kohima. Before gaining his commission, he was a Sgt Major, and he still possesses the voice of a Sgt Major.

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Old 1st Jan 2011, 08:29
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[B]Matterhorn[B] by Karl Mallantes, a brutal description of Viet Nam from the fighting man. Egotistic senior officers, hard NCOs and racial tensions all make a good read.
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Old 5th Jan 2011, 21:47
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Had a read of the following over Xmas / New Year.

MACV-SOG - America's Commandos In Vietnam" by SOG veteran
Major John Plaster.

I thought it was excellent.
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Old 3rd Apr 2011, 01:22
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Have scanned through this post and apologise if these have already been recommended.

Best Foot Forward. Colin Hodgkinson. Has been some time since I read this but if memory serves, more of a truer picture of the inner battles that went on with those fighting daily. A double amputee but unlike Bader obviously scared ****less at times but carried on.

Arthur Blackburn VC.I had never had heard of this chap until the book, which I found absolutely fantastic. One of the ANZAC’s that made if further inland at Gallipoli than anyone else known. Through WWI with a VC and then established or helped establish the RSL in between wars. Back in for WWII. One of if not the only commander to actually hold up the Japanese advance, with a significantly smaller force, for which he received some “individual” treatment when he was their guest as they could not believe how he had achieved this.

Last Plane Out of Berlin by Jeffrey Watson. Sidney Cotton a unique individual, photographing the German build up whilst flying their senior bods around. Established the PRU by some back trading which did not make him many friends.
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Old 3rd Apr 2011, 11:52
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Vlamgat by Dick Lord is an excellent book as are his other books but my favourite is "From Tailhooker to Mudmover".

Stuka Pilot by Hans-Ulrich Rudel is a memorable read.The writing style takes a few pages to get used to but (I am assuming) this may be because of translation from German to English. This is a taste of what his achievements were:

"Rudel flew 2,530 combat missions claiming a total of 2,000 targets destroyed; including 800 vehicles, 519 tanks, 150 artillery pieces, a destroyer, two cruisers, one Soviet battleship, 70 landing craft, 4 armored trains, several bridges and nine aircraft which he shot down"

Can anyone reccomend anything that has been published in the last 18 months relating to recent events ?
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Old 3rd Apr 2011, 13:19
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Dead Men Risen

Dead Men Risen, The Welsh Guards And The Real Story Of Britain’s War In Afghanistan, by Toby Harnden is a vivid account of the relentless intensity of that current war. It has a direct link with Fergal Keane's Road Of Bones in that Welsh Guards' Major Giles Harris, OC Prince of Wales’s Company, is a grandson of Colonel Donald Easten, in 1944 a captain in the Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment, who won an MC as a company commander during the siege of Kohima.

Both excellent reads.
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Old 3rd Apr 2011, 14:58
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Matterhorn by Karl Mallantes, a brutal description of Viet Nam from the fighting man. Egotistic senior officers, hard NCOs and racial tensions all make a good read.
I'd like to second the vote for this book, although its fiction its a great read.

Also just finished 'Seven Troop' by Andy MacNab. His fiction is good, but this true story of his early days in the SAS is fascinating. However, it is the last few chapters, which recount the lives of many ex-Seven Troopers that make it moving and memorable. It also serves as a warning to the future.
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Old 3rd Apr 2011, 15:40
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A Winngness to Die - Brian Kingcombe
A Flying Start - "Cocky" Dundass
A Full Life - Brian Horrocks

Thud Ridge - Jack Broughton
The Ravens - Christopher Robbins
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Old 3rd Apr 2011, 21:53
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I'm currently half way through 'Nine Lives’, ISBN 0 907579 82 5, by Al Deere. If the second half is as good as the first, I'd highly recommend it. Lots of very personal stuff about the early days of Fighter Command and the travails of trying to get the system to change to do it better despite the very best efforts of people at the top who 'knew better' trying to stay with the status quo. (Sound familiar to anyone today?)
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Old 3rd Apr 2011, 22:25
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Have just finished Apache (Ed Macy) and Sniper One (Dan Mills).

Not too taxing, but good reads, and topical
Same here, also recently finished Joint Force Harrier.

Personally thought Sniper One was the better of the trio, kind of feel there but without getting dusty.
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Old 23rd Apr 2011, 03:32
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I've just bought "Red Eagles - America's Secret MiGs" by Steve Davies.

It's about the 1960s CONSTANT PEG MiG operations and the subsequent 4477th TES operations in the 70s and 80s at Tonopah with Frescos, Fitters and Floggers.

Excellent read with some great colour photos.

I nearly didn't buy it because my unread book pile is becoming unstable, but since it was the only one on the shelf, I bought it in case I never saw one again! I'm glad I did - half way through it already.

The book mentions that selected Red Flag pilots would spend a day off normal operations, fighting the MiGs. Was this just US pilots or did any foreign pilots do this?
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Old 23rd Apr 2011, 05:52
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Just finished "The Hunters" by James Salter - a remarkable novel that offers an insider's view of the life of a pilot on a Sabre squadron during the Korean war. Very readable with some insights that remain valid today.

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Old 23rd Apr 2011, 06:33
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Some great choices recently! Dick Lord is eminently readable, and delightfully understated for a fighter pilot (and he's a real pleasure to chat to). Red Eagles was devoured in a week and is a book I constantly dip in to - now a book on the Red Hats is required!

I've just finished "Riding Rockets" by Mike Mullane; unlike most astronaut biographies, this one (from a vietnam vet RF4C WSO) is brutally honest and pulls few punches. He is not afraid to point the finger at systemic weaknesses within the NASA management and the PR circus around women/minority astronauts. He writes with the humour of a military aviator - and his insight into the public "Right Stuff" NASA image against the internal morbid fear of launchday is refreshing. Well worth a read....
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Old 24th Apr 2011, 17:17
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Can highly recommend 'Wild Blue' by Chick Childerhose, on his experiences flying Sabres in the '50s. Out of print for ages but the funniest book I've ever read. Beg, borrow or steal a copy.
There's one bit where he's doing survival training, and he's somewhat older and more backwoodsy than his fellow trainee fighter pilots. When the instructor comes back after a week to see how they're doing, the others are in bashers and he's built a cabin, complete with shaded porch swing, dining table, etc. It's perfect. They are ALL told to 'improve' their shelters. He builds a 'leisure device', consisting of a horizontal jar suspended at just below waist height. It's got vaseline in it which can be warmed to blood heat. He's even fur-lined the outside. He becomes the only person to ever fail Survival, Summer Bush. Apparently you can take course titles too literally.
There's lots of excellent flying tales too.

'Fate is the Hunter' by Ernest K Gann is a must-read. I've actually used some techniques from this book whilst flying over the Greenland icecap in a Cessna 152. I'm probably still alive as a consequence.
Also, 'Voyager' by Dick Rutan and Jeanna Yeager. Has Dick's military background as the high-time F-100 pilot in Vietnam, along with the story of the non-stop flight around the world.
Have to plug 'Sagitarius Rising' by Cecil Lewis as well. You can re-read this book throughout your life and there's always a new angle.
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