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4.0 out of 5 stars
617: Going to War with Today's Dambusters
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 18 February 2013
Seventy years ago this May, Squadron Leader Guy Gibson led 617 Squadron RAF on what became known as the Dambusters raid and entered British history as indelibly as 1066 and the Battle of Waterloo.

Others will no doubt address the details of the Squadron's journey from Lancasters, via Vulcan Bombers to today's Tornados. With 617 - Going to War with Today's Dambusters - Tim Bouquet has brought to life a day in the office for the Squadron's men and women today - or to be precise, a three month tour in Afghanistan in 2011.

From preparation in Lossiemouth to deployment in Kandahar Airfield, the author lets the ground crew, engineers, pilots and navigators tell the story of a modern fighting force. Before leaving Scotland, there is the required viewing of Band of Brothers, the simulated rocket attacks leading to loss of limbs - supported by amputee actors - and the edginess because 70% of the squadron had never deployed operationally anywhere, let alone in Afghanistan.

Having arrived in theatre, the picture emerges of a force coming swiftly to grips with the real thing - a diet of support for and liaison with ground forces more than massive deployment of munitions. It captures the realities of living in the Kandahar Airfield bubble, of flying and refueling in crowded Afghan airspace, of titanic and constant engineering effort to keep the Tornados flying in hostile dusty conditions and of a "war of waiting as much as waging".

Against a backdrop of possible MOD cuts, which could have threatened the Squadron's existence, Tim Bouquet summons from the squadron's personnel a picture of professionalism beyond all measure. He also succeeds in showing how an iconic British squadron has moved with the times to become as relevant today as when Gibson bombed Germany's hydroelectric plants in the Ruhr 70 years ago.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 24 January 2013
With over 100 books about the WW2 exploits of 617 Squadron, it makes an interesting change to read about the squadron of today. This book demonstrates the success of the Dambusters' mission in Afghanistan, and the care taken to minimise civilian casualties - much to the frustration of the crews at times. Tim Bouquet lives and breathes the atmosphere of the RAF's most famous squadron during its pre-deployment training, its operations in-theatre and return to its home base of Lossiemouth. I found it hard to put down; the author not only covers the role of the aircrew but the extraordinary demands placed on the groundcrew. If you want to learn about the fast-jet operations of the RAF today and the people at the coal-face, this is the book to read.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 28 December 2012
I bought this book for Christmas and it's a great read! Definately a most insightful and gripping account of the Royal Air Force at war.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 14 January 2013
I was bought this book as a gift and found it a compelling read. The author's ability to capture the characters is impressive and I was pleased that he was able to identify real people who do the graft. Life in Afghanistan is clearly not all about shooting Taliban and taking 'in-coming'...it also has thousands of experts going about their business to support those brave troops on the ground. 617 Squadron clearly dedicated their tour of duty to serving those in need of their terrific services. The most amazing thing I have ever heard is a fast and low jet fighter...so I can see why 617 rarely need to actually drop bombs!

A brilliant book that will give enjoyment and insight to anyone who reads it (unless you are seeking guns/bombs/death/kill stories). This is certainly one for any future RAF recruit.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 14 January 2013
617 is a thrilling insight in to modern military aviation. For someone like me who didn't really know much about the subject before reading this book it was fantastic to find out about today's dambusters. I recommend this book to everyone!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 19 April 2013
Insightful and well-written look into the life of a modern-day RAF fast-jet squadron. Though a bit disconcerting: targeting onto single Taliban soldiers multi-million pound weapons systems designed to defeat heavily armoured vehicles. Is this what our Tornado crews are up to these days? Just shows how disproportionate that war in Afghanistan is: we're using sledgehammers to crack nuts and it's still not going well for us. No disrespect to those brave crews who are there, and those who work tirelessly to support them. It's the people who make decisions about deploying them who should be reading this.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 4 April 2013
Very good take on a modern force doing a modern job, with the aircraft and crews of today, and how it related to the job done by its forerunners.
Enjoyed it greatly. Dont buy this book if you are expecting mighty tales of daring do, there arn't many.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 21 January 2013
Not sure if Nikos and I read the same book, but I cannot disagree with them more. I found it a well written, well researched book about the modern day RAF and how it copes with modern warfare both from a professional and personal perspective.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 21 April 2013
Having a close interest in the recent exploits of 617 Squadron ,I found the book very interesting indeed. I would recommend it to anyone interested in the current RAF. Well worth a read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 8 February 2013
This is a brilliant piece of exposition of the technicalities of moder war while retaining the interest of the wonderful story of a jet squadron in combat
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