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45 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wing leader;Johnnie Johnson, 1 April 2003
By 
Mr Luke J Harding (Windsor, Berkshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
For anyone with any interest in the air battles of the second world war, this book recounts the story of a legend. The reader is following the career of 'Johnnie'from his mid air engagements during the battle of Britain and ends with the wing leader soaring in the skies above the conquered third reich.This book has enough sobering detail of life in war but has a dash of the chivalrous 'Bigglesworth' excitement. It literally makes you feel as if you have used your fuel, spent your ammo, and limped home with battle damage.The book encapsulates all this atmosphere without exposing it to the risk of sounding artificial and innacurate or distasteful.A focker of a good read ,
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All WW2 aviation enthusiasts should read this., 30 Oct 2011
Just finished reading this and felt humbled at the everyday exploits of this man and his colleagues during WW2. JEJ was at the forefront of many of the major events including the closing stages of the Battle of Britain, fighter sweeps over France, devastation at Falaise, Normandy, Berlin...all there in matter of fact detail with some humorous moments. Also describing the fear and panic when things were not going quite so well. He has told his story compassionately with many fond references to his fellow Canadian pilots.
To survive from almost the beginning to the end of the war without being shot down, his aircraft only getting hit once, nearly forty kills and numerous damaged and probables to his credit, in my eyes Air Vice Marshal James Edgar Johnson is a legend and amongst others, the like of which we will probably never see again!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wing Leader, 3 Dec 2010
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Fantastic read that came alive for me because of some of the additional detail when not in the cockpit. One also gets a great sense of the ongoing battle as the front moves eastwards eventually reaching Berlin which gives this broader scope than other books purely focusing on the Battle of Britain for example. Because of the time served in the sky it is also interesting to see the development of Luftwaffe aircraft culminating in the Me 262 first appearing in the skies.
One of those books I was sad to see end.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible, 21 Oct 2007
By 
DavyA (Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK) - See all my reviews
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This is a marvellous book, that makes you feel like you could be in the cockpit, whilst at the same time, making you feel relief that you weren't.
The descriptions of the aerial battles, the flak, the missions, are all superbly done & you can only marvel at the courage & dedication of men like Johnson & feel eternally grateful that they were there.
A very well written account of the battle for the skies in World War 2, with some incredible testimony from (as the blurb on the book cover states) the top scoring Allied fighter pilot of the war.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply superb., 20 Nov 2011
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It does what it says on the tin. The book covers Johnsons' climb from a green Auxiliary pilot to his command of two Spitfire wings, touching on his staff work in between. It's a bare knuckle ride at times, Johnsons' restrained style making his harrowing account of deadly aerial combat even more immediate. He takes time in the narrative to explain the mechanics of fighting in the air, the role of the different members of a squadron and their ground controllers. He talks the reader through aerial tactics in laymans' terms, including the different approaches to formation flying and how the tactics employed by both sides evolved over the course of the war.
He doesn't hold back on criticising his senior officers' decisions. His account of defying their pet theories is typically dry, but his stopping regular `rhubarbs', dangerous, low level fighter raids over occupied Europe, doubtlessly saved many allied pilots lives.
Finally, after describing the sacrifices of the long, hard fighting, he recalls an air show he arranged at the wars' end. Nothing Johnson did was entirely without purpose and the show was no exception. The Danes had suffered at the hands of the RAF in a wartime raid. Ticket sales from the air show would go to victims of the attack, while the demonstration of Western air power went some way to reassuring the Danes that they would be suitably protected from the potential of Soviet expansion. Like most things Johnson did it was a tremendous success.
He was the genuine article, a real hero in spite of his modest account. I can't recommend this book enough.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Forget Biggles, read 'Johnnie' Johnson's true story., 6 Nov 2009
By 
R. F. Stevens "richard23491" (Ickenham UK) - See all my reviews
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A classic story of how the UK won the air war over Europe in WW2, written by one of the original Top Guns. Or is it?

I read this after having recently read Pierre Clostermann's The Big Show (Cassell Military Paperbacks), and over the last fifty years many other similar books including Paul Brickhill's excellent Reach for the Sky: Story of Douglas Bader, D.S.O., D.F.C. (Cassell Military Paperbacks).

Johnson's version of history is the golden gloss, written from the victor's point of view. It tends to skate over the hardship and exhaustion, terror and overwhelming odds, and how close Britain came to losing in so many ways; starvation, lack of man-power, lack of equipment, lack of almost everything except courage and the will to survive at all costs. He does mention how they had to rethink their tactics, and eventually adopted the Germans' well tried and practiced methods learnt in the Spanish war. Also he talks of how much he learned when flying with Douglas Bader, right up to when Bader disappeared from the sky.

He was lucky in that he missed much of the Battle of Britain when the majority of British fighter pilots were being shot down mainly because of their inexperience and inadequate tactics, in the same way as Clostermann escaped that particular carnage. He was also lucky in sticking with the evolving Spitfire; while Clostermann went on to fly a wide assortment of aircraft on different kinds of mission, some of which he survived only because he also had the Top Gun prescience. Both were frequently moved by their instincts, ahead of time, only to see bullets streaking through where they would otherwise have been.

If one reads both of Johnson's and Clostermann's books, then I think it is possible to gain a much better balanced view of how the second war was fought in the air. Each is rivetting in their own way: Johnson sailing over the problems is more reminiscent of Biggles; while Clostermann gives us the grime and warts, the fear and the death, and the politics and confusion. Both were flying before the war, both struggled to get into the action, both survived the war, each gained an incredible number of victories, but their two stories are so different, making two different sides of the same coin.

I think Clostermann's is the better history, based on his diaries and journals, better written, more realistic and with more background, but Johnson's is the more exciting and pacier to read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A an autobiogrphical account of one pilot's remarkable war, 20 Mar 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Wing Leader (Hardcover)
Written by AVM J.E. Johsnon who passed away in January it tells the story of his war. From enlisting as a Sergeant Pilot until ending the war in Copenhagen as a Group Captain with many decorations for bravery and leadership. Johnson was the highest surviving British ace of the war.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a good read, 30 Jan 2011
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This is an engaging description of the air war from the perspective of the author from the period just after the battle of Britain had finished.
Its quite an easy read and you get a good flavour for what life was like for the fighter pilots after the urgent desperate times of the battle of Britain. The author has quite a relaxed style and the narrative carries you along very well. A second and subsequent reads are very easily accomplished, well worth purchasing.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top read, quick pace and exciting., 7 May 2006
I really reccomend this book, it has a really fast pace and the authors dramatic reconstructions of the the air battles are top class. For me personally the only downside is the huge number of references to hunting and shooting animals, but that's on a very personal level!

Go on buy it, I can assure you, you won't regret it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wing Leader, 17 Dec 2013
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Johnnie Johnson's book Wing Leader is a classic WWII pilot & a/c book. It's a great story of the life of a remarkable person and an honorable man. Absolutely one of the best airwar and aeroplane books plus a tribute to the top Allied fighter pilot in the WWII. Highly recommended; a must have book for everyone interested in history and aviation.
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