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A Bucket of Sunshine: Life on a Cold War Canberra Squadron [Paperback]

Mike Brooke
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
RRP: £12.99
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Book Description

1 May 2012
A Bucket of Sunshine – a term coined by RAF aircrew for the nuclear bomb that their aircraft would be armed with - is a first-hand insight into life in the mid-1960s on a RAF Canberra nuclear-armed squadron in West Germany, on the frontline in the Cold War. The English-Electric Canberra was a first-generation jet-powered light bomber manufactured in large numbers in the 1950s. The Canberra B(I)8, low-level interdictor version was used by RAF Germany squadrons at the height of the Cold War. Mike Brooke describes not only the technical aspect of the aircraft and its nuclear and conventional roles and weapons, but also the low-level flying that went with the job of being ready to go to war at less than three minutes’ notice. Brooke tells his story warts and all, with many amusing overtones, in what was an extremely serious business when the world was standing on the brink of nuclear conflict. Wing Commander Mike Brooke AFC RAF joined the RAF in 1962. After serving on No.16 low-level strike/attack squadron, Brooke became a flying instructor and experimental test pilot. In 1984, after twenty-two years in flying appointments, he was sent to the RAF Advanced Staff College and promoted to Wing Commander, taking command of flying at RAF Farnborough. Brooke later became a test-flying consultant, finally retiring in 2004. He has flown around 7,300 hours on 140 types of aircraft of all classes except seaplanes. In 1984, he was awarded the Air Force Cross by HM Queen Elizabeth and is a Fellow of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots.

Frequently Bought Together

A Bucket of Sunshine: Life on a Cold War Canberra Squadron + Victor Boys: True Stories from 40 Memorable Years of the Last V Bomber + The Buccaneer Boys: True tales by those who flew the 'last all-British bomber'
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Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: The History Press; Unknown edition (1 May 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0752470213
  • ISBN-13: 978-0752470214
  • Product Dimensions: 23.2 x 15.6 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 84,503 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


I enjoyed this book enormously. It captures perfectly a slice of RAF history that is- already- far removed from anything today's airmen will experience. --Air Cdre Pil Wilkinson- Royal Air Force Historical Society Journal --Royal Air Force Historical Society Journal

Interesting [and]...well written --The ARmy Rumour Service

About the Author

Mike Brooke on the Royal Air Force's low-level strike/attack squadron described in this book and became a flying instructor, experimental test pilot, a Wing Commander, and a test-flying consultant.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Insight! 18 July 2012
I was an RAF pilot and went through my initial officer training and flying training just after the author did (because I'm slightly younger and a lot more handsome!) and also served in RAF Germany during the Cold War years, although on a different base and different aircraft type. Mike Brooke has very accurately captured the mood I'm sure we all shared during those days - we were in a very serious business and if we ever had to do, for real, what we trained for every day, we didn't expect to survive beyond the first day and probably not beyond our first sortie. So we developed an irreverence for the reality of our situation, which Mike has captured perfectly. As he describes life on his squadron I can feel myself there with him in the cockpit, the crew room and the bar - and especially in the bar! I read "A Bucket of Sunshine" in less than two days. I just couldn't put it down, but didn't want to get to the end of it. If you want an insight into how things were on a frontline RAF squadron during the Cold War you have to read this book. It truly was a great read.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative and humorous 17 July 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I loved this book. I thought that I had an idea about what Canberras did, but I learned a lot more about how they did it from this book. The book really brings home the weight of responsibility and deadly seriousness of the role of young men on Canberra Squadrons in the early 1960s, and the difficulties and discomforts of the task, yet it is somehow delivered with a wonderful sense of humour that had me laughing out loud at times.
I couldn't put this book down, but didn't want it to end - well written and thoroughly enjoyed. I hope to read more from this author.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bringing Back Memories 5 Oct 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Although I neither served in Germany nor on a Canberra squadron, this book brought back many pleasant memories of selection, initial training, flying training and the fun of life in the Royal Air Force at that time (I trained as a pilot in 1965 and served my first tour in Singapore). I later knew Mike at CFS and completed RAF Staff College with him. His easy style and memory for events make this a very easy book to read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I look forward to the next instalment!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best non-fiction on post-war RAF 23 Nov 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is probably the best book I've had the pleasure to read about the post-war RAF. It took me back to Germany, in the early/mid 60s as an RAF photographer ...not to a BI8 Sqn but to 17 Sqn PR at Wildenrath although 14 Sqn were just a few yards away with their Canberra BI8s. The whole book was a trip down memory lane, I could smell the inside of the Canberra cockpit (electrics, oxygen and farts!) and I found myself laughing out loud. But don't think this is just a book for ex RAF personnel, this is a book to give everyone an insight to the dangers, tension and even innocence of those days. A lot aircrew lost their lives during those early jet years and the Canberra, without careful handling, would bite back and quickly too. Unfortunately it did bite back with a saddening frequency. Congratulations to the author but I'd like him to hurry up with the follow up. Test pilot training and test flying can't fail to bring him many more readers. Flying vintage aircraft will be the icing on the cake. A superb read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a tale of a bygone era in which the RAF had the use of half a dozen airfields scattered from Libya to the Gulf and its pilots still had a navigator to take them to their targets in Eastern Europe. Many aviation autobiographies can be as dull as the camouflage on an RAF jet but Mike Brooke's account of his service on the Canberra bomber was engaging from start to finish. Although dealing with a serious subject, i.e. the possibility of having to go to war against the Warsaw Pact countries, the author keeps the tone of the story fairly light, and there is plenty of humour; he even made the post-flight paper-work sound fun.

The story takes us from his first flight in a small aircraft whilst on a family holiday, through Air Cadets, gliding, learning to fly the Vampire jet, Operational Conversion, and on to the English Electric Canberra B(I)8 bomber/interdictor at RAF Laarbruch in Germany.

The author wasn't afraid to admit to making a few gaffs on his account: at the end of a solo night high-level navigation exercise in a Vampire he misidentified RAF Barkston Heath as RAF Swinderby and joined their Jet Provosts in the circuit for a touch-and-go.

For anyone interested in the Canberra bomber there is a plenty of information about flying the aircraft. Without reproducing the whole Pilot Operating Handbook, Mike Brooke nicely describes the day-to-day operation of the aircraft and some of its idiosyncrasies: it had the useful ability to start both engines simultaneously, and very challenging single-engine handling qualities.

The author describes various methods of weapon delivery, both conventional and nuclear. The Low Altitude Bombing System (LABS) and the Idiot's Loop were looked into in more detail.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly enjoyable book 16 Sep 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a thoroughly enjoyable book! Very readable and had me hooked within a couple of pages. Loved the seat-of-the-pants tales of flying the Canberra during the Cold War and what the RAF was like back in the 60's. Highly recommended.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Cold war hot fun
The authors experience as a pilot, starting from his first desire to fly till the end of his first tour, on Canberra aircraft. Read more
Published 15 days ago by moonwillow
5.0 out of 5 stars Of particular interest to me as I served on one ...
Of particular interest to me as I served on one of the Canberra B(I)8 squadrons in RAF Germany in this period but at RAF Geilenkirchen and not RAF Laarbruck. Read more
Published 2 months ago by MrGee
5.0 out of 5 stars it was good to read a story in language I could understand ...
Know the author, it was interesting to read about his background which he had never spoken about. As an ex-pilot myself, it was good to read a story in language I could understand... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Gordon UK
5.0 out of 5 stars my father loved it.
Being a Canberra pilot, my father loved it.
Published 2 months ago by Charles
5.0 out of 5 stars fab
A fine portrait of a bygone era. Poignant and funny. Heartily recommended for those who appreciate the fascination of flying.
Published 2 months ago by Andy V
4.0 out of 5 stars Brought back memories of 14Sqn 1966-69
I was about 15 months behind Mike Brooke and although I had a lot of friends on 16Sqn who had gone through the RAF training system with me ... I don't think I met Mike. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Bernie
5.0 out of 5 stars you will find this very interesting book to read
this is a great book and a good read about our nuclear tests if you've never read anything about it you will find is really interesting
Published 7 months ago by william
3.0 out of 5 stars A Bucket of Sunshine
As an ex-RAF person during the 'Cold War' I was naturally interested in this book, and I am usually an avid reader of this genre and and I read many. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Pete
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!
Although I did my time some years later, I readily identify many of the scenarios Mike Brooke writes about. The book brought back many happy memories!
Published 7 months ago by M. Buckley
5.0 out of 5 stars Good mixture
Good mixture of technical detail, flying tales and airmanship. A great read made better for me as my first summer camp as an ATC cadet was RAF Laarbruch, where most of the action... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Pangur
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