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Spitfire! The Experiences of a Battle of Britain Fighter Pilot Paperback – 30 May 2009


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Spitfire! The Experiences of a Battle of Britain Fighter Pilot + One of the Few: A Triumphant Story of Combat in the Battle of Britain + Nine Lives
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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Amberley Publishing (30 May 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848683545
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848683549
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.2 x 1.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 123,793 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Brian Lane came from Pinner in Middlesex. A former pupil of St Paul's who, having been sacked from his job in a light bulb producing factory, was accepted for a Short Service Commission in the RAF in 1936. He joined his first fighter squadron, No 66, flying Gauntlet biplanes at Duxford, in 1937. He fought over Dunkirk and throughout the Battle of Britain and at its peak he was made squadron leader of 19 Squadron after his CO was shot down and killed. He wrote his memoir in 1941 and published it under the pseudonym, 'B. J. Ellan' as Spitfire! The Experiences of a Fighter Pilot. It was a short-lived bestseller, the publisher at the time couldn't get enough paper from the War Ministry. He made his last combat flight on 13th December 1942, and was shot down over the cold and inhospitable North Sea, which became Brian Lane's only shroud and last resting place. FOREWORD BY DILIP SARKAR Fascinated by the Battle of Britain since childhood, Dilip Sarkar remains both moved and inspired by the story of Churchill's fabled Few, those young airmen who stood between freedom and a Britain dominated by Nazi Germany. Since the 1970s he has met and interviewed more Battle of Britain pilots than any other historian. He has researched the subject thoroughly and has published over twenty books, titles which include the only biographical works formally endorsed by the families of both Group Captain Sir Douglas Bader and Air Vice-Marshal Johnnie Johnson. In 2003, Dilip was made an MBE for services to aviation history, and elected to the Fellowship of the Royal Historical Society in 2006. He lives in Worcester.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Trevor Mitchell on 4 Jan. 2014
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I bought this having just re-read First Light, Geoffrey Wellum's wonderful narrative leaving me thirsting for more of the same. This is not in the same league really, but a worthwhile read non the less if you simply want to know what it was like flying a Spitfire from 1939 to 41.

In comparing the two, Wellum wrote his masterpiece with the wisdom of his older years, having honed his writing skills to convey not only what he did but how it felt, as dramatic events transformed him from raw recruit to fighter ace. Brian Lane's account, in contrast, is more a series of diary extracts written by a young man in his early twenties in the heat of battle. It is written in the vernacular of the period, with wartime 'let's teach the Huns a lesson' bravado. It concentrates on his wartime flying experiences, does not go into his training and hardly touches on his private life or emotions, so you don't really get to know the writer as you do with Wellum's book.

What this book does do however is make you feel as though you are going back in time, to sit alongside the author in the officers' mess, listening to his first hand account of the sortie he's just returned from, whether it was one of intense life or death combat or a frustrating, fruitless search for enemy aircraft in poor weather or an attempted night time intercept. Like the author's life sadly, it ends prematurely.

My only criticism is the text is littered with typos; stray commas all over the place and full stops mysteriously appearing in the middle of sentences. The proof reader must have gone awol.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Martin Clifford on 30 Jan. 2011
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This is the first hand account of the author's experiences flying in combat at the beginning of the war and the Battle of Britain. Written after the events, but still within the immediacy of these events, it never the less suffered from the war censor's pen and in its original form was devoid of the names or locations of where the events took place which would probably have made the book a difficult read.
Dilip Sarkar acting as an `un-censoring' editor has, by virtue of no small level of research, put names to all the blanks present in the original manuscript. This has produced a very easy, readable account of Brian lane's exploits which I would commend to anyone wanting to get a flavour of the fighting life of one of our departed heroes.
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Excellent little book, originally written as wartime propaganda, about the exploits of a Spitfire squadron (actually 19 Squadron RAF) in the Battle of Britain in 1940. Written by the squadron leader, Brian Lane, it is a gripping first-hand account of his day-to-day experiences in that conflict, with colleagues and friends regularly not making it back to base. It's short and sweet, because it's based on diaries and notes, and is a record of personal experience rather than a work of history: Lane was too busy staying alive to worry about posterity.

It was originally produced in 1941 with redacted names, and my dad (who is in it) had a copy of that one, so it's nice to get a version with proper names in it and (I think) a few extra pictures too. Props to editor Dilip Sarkar, who did the research to sort out the proper names of almost everyone. The author, did not long enjoy his career as a published author - he was shot down and killed in 1942. My dad must have acquired his old copy after the war, as he was in Stalag Luft something-or-other when it came out.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Paul on 21 Nov. 2010
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The ''manuscript'' or rather diary entries and sundry notes to this book were actually written during the war.
Therefore not just another pilot's story but one also live with ''fresh'' recounts of subtle details apart from flying/fighting action and it does appeal to me a great deal.
Sadly the story ends in December 1942.
I found it great reading, forgetting to take a look at the photographs, (loads of them printed on glossy paper) inside until I opened it again today to check for details before submitting this review.
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Not a very long and written by a very modest man but if you wish to know what it was like to fly during the battle of Britain, this tops the reading list
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If you like Spitfires and wondered what it was like, this is for you. It was written just after the battle and has a immediacy to it that is rare.
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A very enjoyable read. Recommended for any RAF WW2 bookshelf
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