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34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Insight!
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...
Published on 18 July 2012 by Gauntlet02

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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.

Also as I was familiar with many of the RAF bases he mentioned it Is good to read about them. Brings back memories!

To me this book read more like reading someone's diary perhaps. Interesting if...
Published 13 months ago by Pete


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34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Insight!, 18 July 2012
This review is from: A Bucket of Sunshine: Life on a Cold War Canberra Squadron (Paperback)
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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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative and humorous, 17 July 2012
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Canada Goose (Alberta, Canada) - See all my reviews
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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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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buckets of Sunshine and Oodles of Anecdotes from a Cold War Aviator., 31 Mar. 2013
By 
D. Forbes "Donald B. Forbes" (Kidderminster) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Bucket of Sunshine: Life on a Cold War Canberra Squadron (Paperback)
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. At the end of the book the author briefly looks at some of the shortcomings of the methods employed by NATO in the 1960s. Happily, there wasn't a chapter in the book titled: Off To War With The USSR.

Whether you are interested in first-generation jets, or just want to learn more about the Cold War, I would recommend that you read this book.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best non-fiction on post-war RAF, 23 Nov. 2012
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This review is from: A Bucket of Sunshine: Life on a Cold War Canberra Squadron (Paperback)
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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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bringing Back Memories, 5 Oct. 2012
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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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant 'read', 13 Mar. 2013
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This review is from: A Bucket of Sunshine: Life on a Cold War Canberra Squadron (Paperback)
I was test flying at the same time the author and he took over Radar Research Squadron at RAE Bedford from me and later he became as Wing Commander Flying at Boscombe Down, an appointment I had held some years earlier.

However, I've not met him for over twenty five years and I am reviewing "A bucket of sunshine" in an unbiased way as befits an ex test pilot.

I was a reconnaissance Canberra PR7 pilot in RAF Germany six years before Mike. His recollections of operating the Canberra at this time sparked very fond memories of similar experiences during my tour there. So many half-forgotten events and happenings came flooding back into focus.

Mike's use of the written language was always of an enviable standard but in this book he has scaled new heights. Informative, relevant, amusing, this book is a brilliant 'read'. I am really looking forward to the description of his flying instructor and test pilot years.

Alan C E H
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly enjoyable book, 16 Sept. 2012
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This review is from: A Bucket of Sunshine: Life on a Cold War Canberra Squadron (Paperback)
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life on a cold war Canberra squadron, 5 Nov. 2012
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I really enjoyed this book. As one who is very interested in aeroplanes this is the kind of book I like to read. I had read the reviews which said that the details it contained filled in a gap of aviation history, namely the period towards the end of the cold war and from my point of view, it gave a detailed account of the Canberra bomber in service at this time.

I enjoyed going through the training and qualifying periods that are described by the author, so much so I felt that I could have flown the aircraft myself!! Details of the sorties that were run in Europe were very well described and most interesting.

At the end when it was time to move on, there was the opportunity to train to fly the TSR-2. Now that would have been something to write about. All in all a very well written and detailed book and a valuable commentary on the Canberra in service.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars True to Life account, 28 Mar. 2013
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This review is from: A Bucket of Sunshine: Life on a Cold War Canberra Squadron (Paperback)
Brilliant. i too was there in 1966. Lots of QRA but sunny trips to Libya for lots of LABS attacks. Winter Survival School as well. He covered the lot; strangely I never flew with "Noddy". I too lived "down the nose". The next Navigator to join failed to get out and was killed in the Gutersloh crash. Certainly gave food for thought but I got on with it and eventually flew >1000hrs in this lovely aircraft.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A warts and all personal account of the Cold War frontline in RAF Germany, 22 Mar. 2015
An excellent if very personal account of a bygone era of British military aviation and hopefully the first in a series.
The book is easy going and combines facts and opinions in a light, often amusing way. There is tragedy here too and he is mindful of "there but for the grace of god" etc all such military men might find themselves. In fact at times he is very frank about his shortcomings and even surprise at the reactions of his superiors to his actions or negligence.
He and his fellow crews were charged with frontline defence at the height of the Cold War, i.e. carrying nuclear bombs, so his account must be in part incomplete. Nevertheless he succeeds in accurately conveying just what it was like to bear such burdens and yet deal with the boredom of prolonged waiting for the warning bell to send them on what might have been a one way mission.
The Canberra is a fascinating aircraft though perhaps overshadowed by the V-Force. It was amusing to read of his comments when offered other postings but I will not spoil the tale. In fact, the machines had things other than the nuclear mission in common, the crew safety for a start. His was not the lonely life of single-seaters, he had two lives entrusted to him; two men working as one looking out for each other thanks in part to the unusual cockpit set-up of the EE Canberra.
There are other books on the Canberra and its ops but this one gets under the skin of how it was to fly and fight one. I hope it has a sequel and it may inspire other air and groundcrew to get their recollections published.
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A Bucket of Sunshine: Life on a Cold War Canberra Squadron
A Bucket of Sunshine: Life on a Cold War Canberra Squadron by Mike Brooke (Paperback - 1 May 2012)
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