The Story of the Spitfire: An Operational and Combat History

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Greenhill Books, 2007 - History - 272 pages
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To many people, the Spitfire was the embodiment of air fighting during World War II. The Spitfire Story presents a thrilling appraisal of this remarkable aircraft's fighting capability and the tactics of the pilots who flew it. Using official evaluations and reports, alongside technical and tactical developments, plus the recollections of Spitfire pilots, the book provides an unparalleled insight into the combat career of this legendary plane. Despite some problems with their new aircraft, the Fighter Command pilots of 1940 were generally delighted with the Spitfire – speed, maneuverability and fire-power were all far greater than they had been with the biplanes of only a year or so earlier. Tactics, training and experience were another matter, and the RAF was out of date. The air battles over Britain in late 1940 forged the Spitfire legend – but how justified was it? There were only nineteen Spitfire squadrons in Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain, but as the RAF turned to the offensive the numbers of Spitfire units dramatically increased. The combat initiative was lost to improved Bf109s and Fw190s, but developments in the Spitfire clawed back the advantage, with increased performance and, crucially, better training. By 1944 the Spitfire was operating as a fighter-bomber in various theatres of war, with new tactics and new problems. To many fighter-pilots having bombs strapped under the aircraft verged on an insult – but with aerial targets in short supply this was the most effective, but risky, way of taking the war to the enemy. The Spitfire Story details the introduction, development and successes of this incredible aircraft, and charts the training and skills of its pilots. It is a compelling account which will be welcomed by both enthusiast and general reader alike. Ken Delve is the author of more than twenty aviation books, including Bomber Command, D-Day: The Air Battle and Night Fighter.

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About the author (2007)

Ken Delve joined the Royal Air Force as a Navigator and in a 20-year flying career served with a number of operational squadrons (Canberra and Tornado), as well as spending time as an instructor.  His interest in aviation history was stimulated by his role as a squadron and station historian, a 'secondary duty' during most of his postings, and this led to an involvement in researching and writing articles and books.  On leaving the RAF he became Editor of FlyPast magazine, the market-leading historic aviation magazine, and was later appointed Editor-in-Chief with Key Publishing. An established author of 25 books and hundreds of articles, Ken Delve also lectures on RAF history and air power. He is the founding Director of the Aviation History Centre, a web-based aviation history research facility and presently lives and works in the Middle East for most of the year. He returns to his home in Swaffham, Norfolk whenever possible.

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