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A very good military read

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A very good military read

Old 3rd Apr 2012, 05:27
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Some great suggestions for the reading list in this thread.

The mentions of Brian Kingcome in reference to First Light (a wonderful book) reminded me of another recent read,

Spitfire Into Battle by W.G.G. Duncan Smith, father of former Tory leader Iain.

Duncan Smith finished the war a Group Captain with seventeen confirmed kills, and as detailed in the book crossed paths several times with Kingcome, in England and Malta.
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Old 4th Apr 2012, 09:48
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Instruments of Darkness Dr Alfred Price

I gave my my stepfather an ex Pathfinder squadron signals leader the above book as Christmas present one year. Not a peep did we get out of him on Christmas day. Mother was becoming all het up as he just sat there totally immersed.......he finally closed it with a thump at about 4pm. 'B....sterds'. 'Who the Luftwaffe I asked?'.' Nay lad our bloody airstaff....'

The book is as gripping as any novel and far better written. Tells you all (or almost all) you need to know about the early days of electronic warfare.

I've collected Dr Prices works ever since.
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Old 4th Apr 2012, 10:02
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Also a good autobiography read about the "wizzard war" is "Pursuit Through Darkened Skies" by Mike Allen DFC**. It is the sory of one of the early Serrate night-fighter crews who hunted German night-fighters over the Continent, initially in Beaufighters then in Mosquitoes.
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Old 4th Apr 2012, 11:51
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here is one right out of left field for you.....
A very well written piece of sword and sorcery called "The Deed of Paksenarrion"

Military connection ??? written by ex USMC female officer - has a very nice parallel to life in the forces - it's subtle mind you and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

a different choice to factual point of view writing. Try it, you might like it.
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Old 5th Apr 2012, 20:58
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Empire of the Clouds : When Britian's Aircraft Ruled the World

Great book- but be aware that are two versions.
A standard hardback with a Vulcan pictured on the cover.
A Special Illustrated Edition with a photograph 74 Sqn Lightnings on the front.
The two different editions can be seen online.
I think that the extra cost for the Special Edition is well worth it as the numerous extra photographs really show you what that era was all about.
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Old 6th Apr 2012, 01:03
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'Mission Completed'-Sir Basil Embry. Chronicles his life as a young RAF pilot to being shot down in the early stages of the war in a Blenheim, being captured, escaping, being AOC 2 TAF (with which he still flew missions as an AVM much to his superiors annoyance) and finishes up with his disillusioned retirement as an ACM. A classic book, surprised no one has mentioned it.

'Catch 22'-Joseph Heller. Totally manic, probably one of the best anti war novels ever written.

'The Jungle Is Neutral'-Spencer Chapman, has already been mentioned.

'McAuslan in the Rough'-George McDonald Fraser's semi autobiographical novels about his time as a subaltern in a highland regiment in Malta just after the war and McAuslan, the dirtiest soldier in the British Army. Absolutely hilarious. Worth buying just for the explanation of how a footballer can score three goals with three successive kicks of the ball.....

'Quartered Safe Out Here'- McDonald Fraser's time in Burma as a private soldier and the stark brutality of war. A classic. McDonald Fraser is no PC apologist.

'Winged Victory'-Johnnie Johnson and Laddie Lucas. Excellent account of the war form a wing and group leader's point of view, and Johnson's unflattering account of the post war RAF.

'Fate is the Hunter'-Ernest K Gann. One of the all time aviation classics, a must read for any pilot.

Last edited by thing; 6th Apr 2012 at 09:30.
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Old 11th Apr 2012, 11:04
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Unhappy

If you wish to understand the reasons why you are being fcuked about in Afghanistan then an essential read has to be,"The Operators" by Michael Hastings. Deals with the US army structure from Dec2008 to June 2011. Read it and weep.
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Old 11th Apr 2012, 12:04
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"Instruments of Darkness Dr Alfred Price" - available on Amazon for "1 used from 1,276.81"!!!! I hope it's a BLOODY good read!
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Old 31st May 2012, 12:23
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Snake Pilot - Randy R. Zahn. I've just started this and it's very good, the first book I've read about the Cobra in Vietnam.
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Old 31st May 2012, 13:57
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Snake Pilot - Randy R. Zahn. I've just started this and it's very good, the first book I've read about the Cobra in Vietnam.
Excellent choice Dunky! When you've finished that you will do well to read these other fine Vietnam War biographies:

Low Level Hell - Hugh L. Mills (an OH-6 Loach pilot)
To the Limit - Tom A. Johnson (Huey pilot)
100 Feet Over Hell - Jim Hooper (O-1 Bird Dog FAC pilot)
Naked in Da Nang - Tara Dixon-Engel and Mike Jackson (O-2 Skymaster FAC pilot)
The Cat From Hue - John Laurence (CBS journalist)
100 Missions North - Ken Bell (F-105 pilot)
Flying Through Midnight - John Halliday (C-123 special ops pilot)

Each of these rates highly favourably to Chickenhawk which I, and probably most others, would judge to be the benchmark for Vietnam War literature.
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Old 31st May 2012, 16:14
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Of those you mention above, I've read Chickenhawk and To The Limit, both excellent reads. I've also read When Thunder Rolled and Palace Cobra, both by Ed Rasimus. The former covers his first tour driving an F-105, and the latter his second tour when he transitions on to F-4's. Another excellent book is Fighter Pilot by Robin Olds, which covers his career from WWII to Vietnam.


I'll certainly add your recommendations to my reading list, thanks.
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Old 1st Jun 2012, 00:09
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'Fate is the Hunter'-Ernest K Gann. One of the all time aviation classics, a must read for any pilot.
Concur 110% - but I never ceased to be amazed how many of the younger generation of FOs have never heard of it.
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Old 1st Jun 2012, 01:05
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'The Gun - the Story of the AK-47' by C.J. Chivers. ISBN 978-141-02063-1

This was a very pleasant surprise, possibly because it is misnamed. Not just a history of the AK, but a very readable history of automatic weapons, from before the Gatling right up to the AKM and M4 series of today.

I found the chapters on the horribly mismanaged (I'd go so far as to say criminal) introduction of the M-16 into service with the US military in Vietnam of particular interest. Quite a few people should have gone to prison for a very long time over that - or perhaps even more apt a punishment, been put into the field in Viet Nam equipped with the weapon they supplied to their hapless soldiers and marines.

Chivers also pretty convincingly debunks much of the mythology about the origins of the AK and the role played in that mythology by Mikhail Kalashnikov.

Good read. Highly recommended.
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Old 1st Jun 2012, 08:33
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Scram- flying the Wessex in the Falklands. A very, very good read
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Old 1st Jun 2012, 08:56
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Of those you mention above, I've read Chickenhawk and To The Limit, both excellent reads. I've also read When Thunder Rolled and Palace Cobra, both by Ed Rasimus. The former covers his first tour driving an F-105, and the latter his second tour when he transitions on to F-4's. Another excellent book is Fighter Pilot by Robin Olds, which covers his career from WWII to Vietnam.


I'll certainly add your recommendations to my reading list, thanks.
Of course, When Thunder Rolled and Palace Cobra - two glaring omissions from my list.

As you're reading Snake Pilot I suggest you follow on with Low Level Hell. It's an account of the helicopter war by an OH-6 pilot and gives the scout's perspective of the 'Pink Teams' formed by the Loach/Cobra combination. The two titles complement each other nicely in this regard.

Am just coming to the end of Matterhorn right now. Although a fictionalised account of the land war in 1 Corps, and on one mountain in particular, it was written by a US Marine captain who served there and is no less powerful for not being a memoir as such.
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Old 1st Jun 2012, 09:13
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If the Vietnam war is your particular interest, try:

Thirteenth Valley

(ISBN 10: 0553235605 / ISBN 13: 9780553235609 )

del Vecchio John M.
I was put on to it by an American I met back in the 1970s. He had served with the author in the Au Shau valley fighting and said that, although a fictional account, it was very close to what actually happened. As an ex-Huey driver myself, I was gobsmacked to read of some of the things the US Army Huey drivers did with their aircraft in the Au Shau. Balls of steel.
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Old 1st Jun 2012, 09:23
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Many thanks Wiley, will check it out for sure.

Interestingly, on Amazon the book ranges from 123.36 in hardcover to 0.01 in paperback. Think I'll opt for the paperback!

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Old 12th Jun 2012, 18:35
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Instruments of Darkness Dr Alfred Price
I gave my my stepfather an ex Pathfinder squadron signals leader the above book as Christmas present one year.
Prangster,

Your stepfather would also like Most Secret War by RV Jones. Covers a lot of the same areas (and more) from a Scientific Intelligence point-of-view.
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Old 12th Jun 2012, 18:49
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Currently reading SCRAM by Harry Benson. Really good read and sheds some light on a number of my SPLOTs and Bosses from times when they were but young scrotes. A good bit on the late, great Pete Rainey. He was an absolute gent, such a sad loss along with his wife...lovely family.

Great book which I can heartily recommend.
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Old 12th Jun 2012, 19:54
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If you're interested in the current conflict (and for that matter Iraq) try "Losing Small Wars" by Frank Ledwidge (IIRC) - ex Navy chap. Not the standard book and some difficult thoughts about where we go from here. Recommended!
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