The book - a part of the Osprey Aces Series - takes a look at the successes of Defiant, Blenheim and Havoc 'aces' during their use in WW2. If you have read any of the other books in the series, the format will be familiar - i.e. a more or less chronological and theatre based listing of air combats and successes of the various aces involved. Not all have become aces on the types focused on but all have at least successfully fought part of their career on them.
The book, being somewhat longer than some others in the series (to cover three types), can get a bit repetitive, and is not particularly engaging. The first hand accounts from interviews with the pilots themselves are generally helpful in adding some colour but I found this one harder to get through than many others in the series I read, in spite of being particularly interested in the types covered.
Where the book would have benefited in my opinion, is in adding a couple of paragraphs of analysis every so often - what the strengths and weaknesses of the types were, the most effective use... As it is, some of the aspects become gradually aparent through the text (or would be known to people more familiar with the types from other sources) but one could get away with the impression that these were extremely successful in all their roles, which is questionable at best in spite of the dedication and bravery of the men that flew them.
So even though the slightly drier tone of writing, the repetiton and lack of analysis would rather point towards three stars for me, I believe the book deserves four simply for covering types otherwise very seldomly mentioned or discussed.
Once again, I come to the subject covered by this book because of the aircraft wrecks I am studying at this time. I must admit, therefore, that, as much as I am learning, I am not knowledgeable in aircraft in the same way in which I know something about ships. In addition, whereas we might all have heard of most types of WW2 aircraft - especially the famous ones, I had not previously heard of the Havoc.
In a fascinating work which seeks to follow the exploits of the pilots who earned the right to call themselves Aces (five confirmed enemy kills or more) from a select number of less famous aircraft such as the Defiant, Blenheim and Havoc, author Andrew Thomas fills the pages of this tome with information, information and even more information relating to these `heroes of the skies.'
Commencing with a commentary which describes in exciting detail the first `kill' of 264 Squadron on 12 May 1940. From what might even be perceived as humble origins - in almost every instance, we follow the exploits of various RAF squadrons and their pilots as a picture is skilfully brought into sharp focus in which their lot is fully explained and described.
Lavishly illustrated with historic B&W photos throughout, including the men, the aircraft and the losses, the work also includes 36 colour plates showing side profiles of various aircraft in their different liveries.
For me, this was an excellent grounding in the subject and has awakened a wish to read more of the exploits of those mentioned here.