Harrier 809 - Britain’s Legendary Jump Jet and the Untold Story of the Falklands War by Roland White

There have been many accounts of the well known 1982 air war in the South Atlantic but Rowland White has found a new angle by making the exploits of the third Sea Harrier squadron, NAS 809, rather than NAS 800 and NAS 801, the main thread through the story.

This is a thoroughly researched history book packed with fascinating detail. Written in an urgent and very readable style the book draws the reader into the action and gives him a vivid appreciation of the experiences on both the UK and Argentine sides of the pilots, radar operators, gun and missile crews, and the ships’ officers and men including those of the British Merchant Navy. Many of the airborne and maritime events are familiar but are rendered fresh and exciting here. It is the background stories that are revealing of the manner in which the war was won.

The coverage is comprehensive including the assembly and formation of NAS 809 from scratch in record time, preparation of Atlantic Conveyor, its transfer to Ascension Island and the voyage south, UK training against Mirages, the AIM-9L story, Chilean-UK support including the plan to use RAF Canberra PR9s from Chile, SAS raids on mainland South America and the Falklands, RAF Nimrod and Vulcan operations, SHAR camouflage, the Argentine navy and air force Super Etendard, Skyhawk, Pucara and helicopter operations, UK and Argentine radars and missiles, US-UK support, RAF Harrier involvement, and the shooting war itself concentrating on the RN Sea Harrier FRSMk1s and RAF Harrier GRMk3s.

Book Reviews

Toptop toptoptop

The thinking of the commanders and the political background are also explained throughout and, importantly, the characters of the main players emerge from the action.
    This is a big book (480 pages) with an excellent index, a useful 12 page glossary, and an 11 page bibliography listing source material. It is illustrated with 24 pages of very relevant photographs, many published for the first time, 8 pages of helpful maps and a detailed Sea Harrier FRSMk1 cutaway with a key to 239 components.
    Unusually I spotted no technical mistakes but would just point out that weapons are not ‘bolted’ to pylons but ‘loaded‘; otherwise full marks. The author, Rowland White, is to be congratulated on this outstanding and enjoyable work of narrative history published by the Bantam Press.

Hawker Hurricane - Defender of the Skies by Steve Philpott

    The author had long believed that the undoubted importance of the Spitfire in WW2 has overshadowed that of the Hurricane so decided to do something about it. Some fifteen years of research later he published this book which compares the combat successes of the two types.
    However, the book is more than that; it starts with a concise but detailed and informative account of the origins, design and development of the Hurricane in its several Marks followed by the production history of the aircraft built by Hawker at Booklands and Langley, Gloster and the Austin Motor Co in England; and in Canada, Belgium and Yugoslavia.
    Then comes the core of the book where the author examines the losses and victories of the Hurricane in its 33 campaigns from the ‘phoney’ war to Yugoslavia. RAF and FAA exploits are described on a day-by-day basis, often with quotations from squadron operational record books and pilot log books. For the aircraft in foreign service - Belgian, Finnish, Romanian, Yugoslav and Soviet - the coverage is less detailed due to the scarcity of information available, but no less interesting.
    The book ends with the author’s concluding analysis and comparison of the records of the two types; Spitfire and Hurricane, summarised in an Appendix.
     There are many rare and some well known photographs as well as numerous campaign maps in colour. The soft-back book is well produced on good quality heavy- weight paper and has a handsome colour cover.
    Unfortunately the publisher, Melrose Press, went into liquidation after only a short print run. However, copies can be obtained from the author at 19 Andrews Close, Epsom, Surrey. KT17 4EX for 19.99. Phone 07986 764408, e-mail stphphlptt@aol.com.

The Aviation Historian Issue 34

    A very striking cover photograph taken from a cabin window showing a couple of RB.211s under the wing of a B.747 introduces Prof Keith Hayward’s detailed analysis of the 1971 Rolls-Royce bankruptcy precipitated by problems with the engine for the Lockheed 1011 tri-jet. Chris Gibson has found another British aeronautical curiosity, a 1950s RAE proposal for a ramjet, Mach 4, VTOL, personal transport - yes, really, and Ralph Pegram examines BOAC’s requirements relative to the Brabazon Committee proposals. Several new projects are described including Vickers’ Warwick Continental using a Barnes Wallis’s woven metal ‘Geosteel’ covering - yes, really, again! And of course, there’s lots more for the aviation history enthusiast, ancient and (fairly) modern.