Cover Image: Spitfire

Spitfire

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Member Reviews

As soon as I saw the cover of this book, I knew I just had to read it. Oddly, it wasn’t until I actually started reading this book that I remembered a time when I was 14 or 15 my Dad took me to an airshow as a father/daughter outing about three hours’ drive from where we lived. I was completely fascinated.

I was only about 7 pages into the story when I first cried. There were also thrilling, exciting moments while reading, and very sad, even tragic moments. It reads like a fabulously well-written novel although it is far more than that.

The stories that are pulled together throughout various fronts and places (England, France, Italy, Africa, and the Far East are some of those places) during World War II feature a wide array of pilots and all of them had their stories to tell involving the Spitfire.

The Spitfire’s history began as an answer to the Luftwaffe planes that were able to maneuver well in flight and fire on bombers and other planes of the RAF. Its unique wing-shape and superb aerodynamics are its trademark, and gave the plane its ability to quickly move out of the way of attacking planes. To a man, (and woman), the veterans (RAF and later, all of the Allies) who shared their stories with the author had nothing but praise for the compact airplane with a huge heart and astounding athleticism.

We learn how it was first built, and also how it evolved throughout the course of the war. We learn about one pilot who had been attacked by roughly a dozen enemy aircraft yet emerged from the attack to tell the tale. This happened to him not once, but twice during the war in two different theatres, and as he takes us through the action, I had to admire both his skill as a pilot (which he underplayed), and the incredible engineering of the Spitfires he flew that were so responsive they were often described by pilots as “an extension of myself.”

It intrigued me that the Air Transport Auxiliary had both women and men pilots. Women fought for and received equal pay with the male pilots – most likely the first instance in the 20th Century where equal pay at work occurred between women and men.

I was also fascinated by the stories of some of these pilots, well into their 90’s when interviewed, who were given an opportunity to take a tour and/or ride once more in their beloved Spitfires. There are also photographs, and one of them had this caption: “ATA pilot Mary Ellis celebrates her 100th birthday in 2017 by taking the controls of a twin-seat Spitfire over Sussex. Shadowing her is one of the Spitfires she delivered during WWII while in the Air Transport Auxiliary.” The women and men of the ATA delivered aircraft from where they were manufactured to the air bases where they would depart for their missions.

This book was so well written that it was the first time I really understood the various movements of the war. Perhaps I needed a bird’s-eye view to see it all more clearly; although maybe I should say a Spitfire’s view.

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review an ARC of this novel, and to the author, John Nichol, for writing it. Its publication date is October 29, 2019.
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When it is hot as heck outside and there is nothing cool to do but reading as everything else makes you end up a sweaty mess, it is the perfect day for a speed reader.			
			
I received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  			
			
From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸.			

The iconic Spitfire found fame during the darkest early days of World War II. But what happened to the fighter aircraft and its crews beyond the Battle of Britain, and why is it still so loved today?

In late spring 1940, Nazi Germany’s domination of Europe looked unstoppable. With the British Isles in easy reach since the fall of France, Adolf Hitler was convinced that Great Britain would be defeated in the skies over her southern coast, confident his Messerschmitts and Heinkels would outclass anything the Royal Air Force threw at them. What Hitler hadn’t planned for was the agility and resilience of a marvel of British engineering that would quickly pass into legend—the Spitfire.

Bestselling author John Nichol’s passionate portrait of this magnificent fighter aircraft, its many innovations and updates, and the people who flew and loved them, carries you beyond the dogfights over Kent and Sussex. Spanning the full global reach of the Spitfire’s deployment during WWII—from Malta to North Africa and the Far East, then over the D-Day beaches—it is always accessible, effortlessly entertaining, and full of extraordinary spirit.

Featuring edge-of-your-seat stories and heart-stopping firsthand accounts of battling pilots forced to bail out over occupied territory; of sacrifice and wartime love; of aristocratic female flyers, and of the mechanics who braved the Nazi onslaught to keep the aircraft in battle-ready condition, Nichols delivers a hair-raising and moving wartime history of the iconic Spitfire, including a cast of heroic characters that make you want to stand up and cheer.

I enjoyed reading this book as I love history and as a member of the RCAFA (Royal Canadian Airforce Association) 427 Wing (where my uncle trained in 1943) I wholly approve of this book.  Although my uncles flew in Lancaster Bombers, the Spitfire is the plane one usually hears about the most.  The book is expertly researched and written in an enjoyable style vs. coming off as a dry, dusty history book. If you have an interest in flying or aircraft, this is a great book to read!
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