Spitfire: A Very British Love Story Hardcover – 17 May 2018
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‘A rich and heartfelt tribute to this most iconic British machine. By focussing on the men (and women) who flew the Spitfire, John Nichol has brought a fresh and powerful perspective to the story. And by recording their bravery, humility, camaraderie, tragedy and sheer joy in flying their beloved Spits he has done them - and us - a valuable service’ (Rowland White - author of Vulcan 607)
'The best book you will ever read about Britain's greatest warplane.' (Patrick Bishop, bestselling author of Fighter Boys)
'As the RAF marks its centenary, Nichol has created a thrilling and often moving tribute to some of its greatest heroes.' (Jon Dennis Mail on Sunday magazine)
'A stirring portrait of a piece of aviation art in motion flown by the bravest of the brave. Nichol's Spitfire is still a sky-borne prima ballerina that kicks like Bruce Lee.' (RAF News)
'A superb and compelling book. Brilliantly written with some incredible and astonishing stories; it is gripping, moving, emotional and sometimes humorous – just perfect' (Squadron Leader (Ret) Clive Rowley, former Officer Commanding RAF Battle Of Britain Memorial Flight)
'A superb journey through the remarkable tale of that British icon, the Spitfire. Brilliantly and engagingly written, this is the most readable story of the aircraft and her pilots that I have ever had the pleasure to read in a period spanning some forty-odd years of personal study and research. Truly stunning.' (Andy Saunders, Editor Britain at War Magazine)
‘It packs such an emotional punch. If you don't believe an object can bring you to tears and instil such passion - read this book, it will stay with you long after you have finished reading it.’ (Stephen McEntee, WHSmith non-fiction buyer)
'A rich tribute to Britain's greatest warplane' (Sunday Times Culture)
About the Author
On active duty in the Gulf John Nichol was shot down on the first low-level, daylight raid of the first Gulf War. Captured and tortured, he was paraded on television provoking worldwide condemnation and leaving one of the enduring images of the conflict. He later served around the world from the Nevada Desert to the Middle East and Norway to the Falkland Islands, and, was a bestselling author of his ordeal inIraq, Tornado Down. He has since written five novels, and the highly-acclaimed WWII history books, The Last Escape, Tail-End Charlies and Home Run. John is a member of The Royal British Legion's Gulf War Group helping veterans with Gulf War Syndrome and a patron of the British Ex-service Wheelchair Sports Association.
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Aplogies to John as apparently Mk 8 Spitfire JF299 was the first ever example to be fitted with a tear drop canopy and cut down fuselage in the summer of 1943, even though I've never ever seen a pic of such an example in action so not sure how many were ever made in this configuration. Just goes to show the level of research he carried out in order to write this wonderful book and how even a true afficiando like myself for over 40 years can still learn something new.
Update: I am close to 100 pages into this and for the record many of the meaty ones i read i never get that far with, but this is amazing. Totally feel for the pilots, indeed the country. Never read one like it. If you're going to buy this, ensure before you pick it up that you have an afternoon or day spare, as you will find this tough to put down after.
At times harrowing and at times true 'boys own' stuff, this book will leave you amazed by the daring tales of those who fought this aircraft. It looks not just at the Battle of Britain but also beyond to many other theatres of conflict where the Spitfire excelled, such as the Mediterranean, North Africa and Far East. This is a book to be cherished by aviation enthusiasts and general readers alike.
Nichol, an ex-RAF man himself, interviewed a number of veterans for this book and it is the tale not so much of the aeroplane but of the men and women who flew and worked on it. The pilots’ stories make up the bulk of the book, from ‘The Few’ of the Battle of Britain, to the photo reconnaissance pilots who flew unarmed Spitfires deep into Nazi Germany, and the female ferry pilots who delivered them to squadrons. The narrative never fails to enthral.
It would have been nice to see a bit more about the people who built and maintained the aircraft, but what is clear from the book is that everyone who came into contact with it has developed a deep and enduring love for the Spitfire.
From its conception, through to it's operational twilight years, and onto the emotion stirring restored aircraft which bring joy, and the occasional lump in the throat, John tells the story of this wonderful, evocative aircraft.
A must read.