American Volunteer Fighter Pilots in the RAF, 1937-43. . – Net Assessment – book review
Philip D. Brig. Gen. Caine
American Volunteer Fighter Pilots in the RAF, 1937-43, Classic Colours American Eagles, sec. 1, by Tony Holmes. Classic Publications (http:// www.classic-books.co.uk), Friars Gate Farm, Mardens Hill, Crowborough, East Sussex TN6 1XH, England, 2001, 128 pages, [pounds sterling]16.95 (soft-cover).
The Classic Colours American Eagles series of four “sections,” written by Tony Holmes and Roger Freeman (sections two through four), is a noteworthy undertaking designed to appeal to the World War II buff who wants a concise history of the topic and lots of photographs and color profiles of aircraft, In section one, Holmes certainly lives up to this idea. His topic is the countless Americans who served in the Royal Air Force (RAF) from 1937 to 1943. Although Holmes does not account for more than a fraction of them, he uses their experience as a unifying theme to recount the story of the development of the RAF during those critical years. His descriptions are brief, and he tends to focus too much on a few specific Americans, but the reader does come away from this colorful volume with a better idea of the scope of American involvement with the British air arm. The book’s greatest contribution is not the summary-like narrative, however, but the illustrations. Holmes includes over 150 photographs of both men and machines, as well as 30 beautifully done color profiles of aircraft–mostly Hurricanes and Spitfires. The pictures and profiles of aircraft are accompanied by comprehensive sidebars that trace the history and fate of both the pilots and the particular machine. The fact that many of the photos have not been previously published adds to the value of the book. Overall, Holmes has produced a volume that, though far from a definitive history of Americans in the RAF, briefly tells the story of their service, relates the development of the RAF, and supports this account with an extraordinary number of photographs and color profiles. American Volunteer Fighter Pilots in the RAF, 1937–43 is a worthwhile addition to any collection of books about World War II.
COPYRIGHT 2002 U.S. Air Force
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