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Wing Leader Unknown Binding – 1974

4.9 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Unknown Binding: 320 pages
  • Publisher: David & Charles (1974)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0007AJKS6
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)

Customer Reviews

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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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.
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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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