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Phoenix Squadron: HMS Ark Royal, Britain's last Topguns and the untold story of their most dramatic mission [Kindle Edition]

Rowland White
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £8.99
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Book Description

January 1972: the tiny outpost of British Honduras is threatened with imminent invasion by battle-hardened, US-trained Guatemalan paratroops. Britain's response must be immediate and decisive. But there is only one deterrent the government can offer: HMS Ark Royal, once the Navy's most powerful warship, now a white elephant on the verge of being scrapped.



To save the small colony, she must launch a pair of Buccaneer fighter bombers on an unprecedented long-range mission. But first the old carrier must make a high-speed, 1,500 mile dash across the Atlantic towards the Gulf of Mexico. The odds of arriving in time are very slim indeed...



Drawing on extensive first-hand accounts and previously unseen, classified documents, Rowland White has pieced together one of the most audacious and thrilling missions of post-war British military history.



Product Description

Review

"Aircraft carriers, jet fighters and a crisis on the other side of the world. Who could ask for more? It takes an obscure corner of British military history and weaves a story as gripping as any Tom Clancy thriller. It's completely riveting" (Jeremy Clarkson)

"From the cockpit of a fighter jet to the violently pitching deck of an aircraft carrier at night, Rowland White combines pulse-pounding tension with riveting detail. If only all military history was written like this..." (Andy McNab)

"[A] page-turning thriller of a book... White's obvious passion infuses every page and is highly infectious, while the level of detail should send any budding Tom Clancy rushing to the bookshops" (James Holland Daily Telegraph)

"Reads like a Patrick Robinson or Tom Clancy novel...This is a cracking read" (Navy News)

"A gutsy, you-are-there true story that throbs with the sound and fury of carrier operations. Military history as it ought to be told" (Robert Gant)

Review

From the cockpit of a fighter jet to the violently pitching deck of an aircraft carrier at night ... combines pulse-pounding tension with riveting detail. If only all military history was written like this ...'

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 3035 KB
  • Print Length: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Transworld Digital (30 Jun. 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004I8WL7U
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #31,234 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
I was impressed - and I can say this now I've read the book - having been sceptical about how an author could bring to life a story that was but the smallest blip on the calendar of history.

But Rowland really does. And more importantly he compels you into thinking it was THE historical event of the time, nestled in amongst the 30+ years of the Cold War, that could have turned the tide in South American politics, UK reputation and UK/US relations.

There is no disputing my ignorance of the South American region and the political landscape of the 60's and 70's that caused the ebb and flow of regional tension; I have always been much more acutely focussed on how the UK and the labour government almost dismantled the Royal Navy and handed over good but well worn aircraft to the RAF instead of TSR2 or F-16.

But this book bounces you along in a manner similar to the purposeful, powerful and proud Ark Royal as she drove north through the rough waters of the North Atlantic. It just keeps you going. The parallels he draws for the current state of the UK military, the Royal Navy in particular, makes stark reading.

The detail he dragged from those embarked in the squadrons at the time brought conventional carrier aviation to life in a way that I found raised my pulse and breathing rate on every launch. By cleverly weaving in the detail of the diplomatic and political aspects of both the Cold War issues and that of the key focus, Belize, allows to you to take a well earned pause between the flying action that only a carrier can make so dramatic. The bonus feature of course is that fact that I'm now much more knowledgeable about the period and the era than ever I was before.
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47 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb rendition of a little known event 2 April 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
From the author of the superb Vulcan 607 this is another well detailed and informative account of an urgent and technically demanding long rage mission by Fleet Air Arm Buccaneer strike aircraft launched from HMS Ark Royal in January 1972 in order to deter Guatemalan aggression against Britsh Honduras (now Belize).The book encompasses the story behind the moves by Guatemala as well as HMS Ark Royal's operations in the year leading up to the event.The story is told from the perspectives of many of those involved,not just the aircrews but the British government at the time as well as many others. There are also photographs and technical information included and the gripping story reads like a techno-thriller although it is all fact.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another good read from Rowland 8 April 2009
Format:Hardcover
To get the horrible bit out of the way first, no, it isn't quite as good as Vulcan 607 in my opinion, but then that was the true story of a mission where far more things could go wrong and it was set during an actual shooting war. The slightly heavier political dimension in this book does tend to take you out of the action a bit.

Phoenix Squadron is, however, just as readable and told in similar style which turns what could have been a dry account of the usefulness of carrier air power into a tense and always interesting story. For those unfamiliar with the history of the UK's carrier force since WWII the sheer suicidal danger involved will be an eye opener, and the mixture of anecdotes and the main arc of the story weave in and out nicely. I particularly enjoyed the bits illustrating the contrast between FAA pilots and their USN counterparts!

How useful those Buccaneers and Phantoms could have been in the South Atlantic just a few short years after a short sighted government disposed of the RN's most valuable and practical assets. Defence cuts so often save money and cost lives - here's a book to provide a practical demonstration of how expensive 'toys' can save you a great deal.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I was there! 25 Nov. 2011
By Mid
Format:Paperback
I discovered this book languishing on the shelf in the appartment we rented this year in Majorca. Astonishing, as I was unaware that someone had written about this episode - a mad dash across the Atlantic in an ageing but very operational fixed wing carrier with Buccaneers, Phantoms and Gannets plus the odd helicopter!

Even more astonishing, because I was onboard throughout as one of the 15 or so lowest of the low Midshipmen - less than useful and there to learn as much as possible in 6 months before being let loose on the Fleet (in my case to the Submarine Flotilla)

The book is factually accurate, full (to me) of reminiscences and familiar names and personalities and as exciting as the whole experience really was. As part of our training we had to work with the flight deck team attaching giant aircraft onto the catapult and stand back whilst they and their brave aircrew hurtled off the deck in a stream of flame and noise!

When you get to the bit about Ark breaking apart in the storm through being driven flat out to get within strike range, remember that I stood there watching the gaping hole in the ships side and fractured steel ribs opening and closing as she flexed in the enormous seas!

For an in depth description of the real "top gun" experience in the seventies - read this book!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars History of dedication and professionalism 10 Aug. 2009
Format:Hardcover
The subject matter (a little local difficulty for Britain in Central America in 1972) may well be but a mere footnote to 20th Century history. For the people involved, from the high command to the engineering team of The Fleet Air Arm in Ark Royal, it was a period of intense activity and a consummate test of their professionalism under pressure. Cometh the hour, cometh the man (or, in this case, men) and as with so many tales of courage and resourcefulness, a certain amount of calculated risk too.
Rowland White's meticulous analysis of the unfolding saga and the resourcefulness of the people involved makes a compelling read. This is no dry miltary history but, rather, a chronicle of an age of waning British sea-power that vividly portrays why our politicians got it so wrong for all the wrong reasons - ineptitude, financial incompetence and blind ignorance at least and a politically corrupt view of Britain's role as a post-Colonial power for certain. The sharp contrast between the high moral purpose and dedication of the miltary personnel at sea and in the air and the scrimpers and savers in Whitehall and Westminster is breath-taking. If anyone wants to understand what Churchill's doctor (Dr Moran) calls the anatomy of courage then this is the book to read. A page-turner, an object lesson in political fraud, a testimony to military professionalism and the triumph of ingenuity in unpromising circumstances. Simply a great read. You may also be amused by the photos, including one of Ark Royal's fine Captain wearing his beret with utter disregard for style or absurdity!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Buccaneers over Belize
With the epic Buccaneer as main character, you can hardly go wrong as a writer. The topic itself is not a guarantee for a terrific book though. Phoenix Squadron is way beyond epic. Read more
Published 10 days ago by M. Baerends
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing insight into what happened and how the MOD wanted ...
An amazing insight into what happened and how the MOD wanted the media to portray the happenings regardless of what effect it would have on our lads being as the... Read more
Published 11 days ago by Richard Turner
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
All good valuable histories of minor crises wars during the Cold War
Published 24 days ago by Mr P R Jefferies
3.0 out of 5 stars Not quite the book it seems from the cover
I found this book to be a curious mixture of political and military history that never quite gels. The central mission by the Buccaneers of 809 Squadron takes up a small proportion... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Pikeperch
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Amazing book!
Published 3 months ago by Dawn Davis
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
A good read to something I did not know about and worth giving it ago
Published 4 months ago by Philip
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book.
Fleet Air Arm in action again. Great book.
Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
partner loves it
Published 6 months ago by sue7
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent author.
Fascinating exposition of a little known Fleet Air Arm undertaking. Excellent author.
Published 8 months ago by rafferty
4.0 out of 5 stars Okay I get it but why oh why can't the ...
Okay I get it but why oh why can't the author explain to us landlubbers some of the technical point brought up in this book?
Published 9 months ago by Dr. C. Evans.
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