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The Decisive Duel: Spitfire vs 109

The Decisive Duel: Spitfire vs 109 [Kindle Edition]

David Isby
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Product Description


A splendid work. A detailed account of two important wartime fighter aircraft enlivened by the words of those who flew them. (Len Deighton)

The epic struggle between the Spitfire and the Messerschmitt 109 upon which so much of western civilization depended in the summer of 1940 has found the ideal biographer in David Isby. I write "biographer" because, like the men who flew these remarkable fighter planes, Isby sees them in almost human terms, transcending the mere mechanical. (Andrew Roberts, Author Of The Storm Of War)

This is an important book on an enduring subject that should satisfy experts and newcomers to the field alike. (Nick Cook, Author Of The Hunt For Zero Point And Former Aviation Editor, Jane's Defence Weekly)

Book Description

In the Battle of Britain, when the Spitfire and Messerschmitt Bf 109 met in decisive combat, they proved to be like two champion boxers. This is their story, from the men who designed them to the teams that built them and the pilots who flew them.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1743 KB
  • Print Length: 577 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0349123659
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group (26 July 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S. r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #155,818 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Focusing on the two best-known and arguably most significant fighter aircraft of the Second World War - the British Supermarine Spitfire and the German Messerschmitt Bf 109 -- this book is a "dual biography", aimed at the more general reader (think Roberts, Hastings, Beevor rather than Price, Goss, Shores as its apparent models). Nor is it a technical history, of which there are already shelves full of valuable books for the scholar and buff alike).

The book documents the two opposing fighters' intertwined evolution, and how this was related, in turn, to the 1930s race to design and deploy these fighters, to the prewar arms buildup, the vital role each fighter played in its country's war-fighting capability, and how each has become an artifact of history and legend. The book shows the two fighters as organic entities: growing, changing, adapting.

I liked best (because it was new to me) the opening chapters. The book starts with the two designers, Germany's Willy Messerchmitt and Britain's R.J. Mitchell. These chapters show how the interaction between the Spitfire and Bf 109 included the race to design, develop and produce the fighters in the 1930s - a race the Germans won through early rearmament. This was followed by a second competition, starting as war appeared closer and ending when the two fighters first met in air combat over Dunkirk in May 1940. The results of these two competitions lead directly to the most important air combat in history, the Battle of Britain.

The writing, especially about air combat, is vivid and exciting, drawn from first-person accounts and combat reports. But this is a story also about those that designed and built these fighters as well, including enslaved workers forced to build the 109.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An aerial tour de force 28 July 2012
I must confess that my first reaction when seeing yet another book about the Spitfire and the Me 109 was along the lines of 'Oh no, not another one!' I was pleasantly surprised and after a cautious start can highly recommend this book to anybody with an interest in the design, development and operational use of both of these famous aircraft types. The author, not usually known for aircraft titles, has written a very effective book yet manages to be avoid being overly technical. Obviously the technology employed plays a major role in the story but it is couched very much at the layman's level and so is easy to understand - which is of great importance when trying to understand the whys and wherefores of the changes applied to each type during their service careers. The various descriptions of how the planes actually flew - usually from first hand accounts - are very helpful and the various struggles with bureaucracy that both the British and German design teams had to endure and the conditions under which the designs evolved is also well described - as was the increasing difficulties the German aircraft industry laboured under as the allied bombing intensified.

Numerous combat reports add to the flavour and the continuing overview of the tactical and strategic factors surrounding how the types were used operationally is also particularly useful. There is a wealth of trivia contained within this book and whilst I am not an aeronautical historian much of the data seems to have been obtained from some very 'heavy weight' sources so should be there or thereabouts in respect of accuracy. I was quite interested in the story of the two types after the Battle of Britain - which pretty much forms the second half of the book.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Intriguing Insight. 8 Nov 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I was absorbed by the detail and the way the varying balance of power achieved between two marques of aircraft designed with the same desogn object in view. The production facilities for each aircraft are similar in that both countries used dispersal to minimise the effect of bombing, but the book describes how incredibly different they dealt with the problem of manpower. It is very difficult to believe that the autocratic nation's solution was to use slave labour supervised by Himmler! The reader will be engrossed to read how far the research goes beyond the end of WW2
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yin and Yang 2 Mar 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a thorough,painstaking account of the development of these two aircraft, with the added entertainment of numerous snippets about the people who flew them and made them. There was no one ME109 or one Spitfire. they went through numerous incarnations-first one gaining the upper hand,then the other. We are treated to a fascinating account of all war theatres in which they operated, and to a good account of the politics which influenced their development. The saddest part of the story is how the German plane was taken over by appalling slave labour and brutality in its manufacture. As aeroplanes, they were the outstanding examples of two equally matched antagonists fighting each other for round after round. I was riveted.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A huge disappointment 6 Nov 2013
By Tigs
This looked like the ideal read - a thick tome which should have been perfect autumn reading. Unfortunately, both the author and, ultimately his editor should be deeply ashamed at this effort. The story telling is haphazard, points and 'facts' are repeated, repeated and repeated, the structure of the book is......well, there is practically no structure, it is littered with grammatical errors and generally gives the impression of a 'quantity rather than quality' production. There are interesting facts and stories, but all in all, it was a struggle to wade through the repetition and not just cast it aside as a bad job. A shame as with tight editing, it could have been a marvellous addition to the shelf.. The Charity Shop bookshelf beckons for this one.....
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