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Images of War: RAF Fighter Pilots over Burma, Norman Franks
Images of War: RAF Fighter Pilots over Burma, Norman Franks
The Burma campaign was the longest ground campaign fought by the British Army during the Second World War, beginning with the longest retreat in British military history and ending with the victorious reconquest of the country. During this long campaign the RAF went from a position of extreme weakness, armed with a handful of obsolete Brewster Buffaloes and a few Hurricanes, to a position of great strength, with fighter units equipped with an increasing number of Spitfires and Thunderbolts to support their Hurricanes.
This book really does live up to its title. The vast majority of pictures are indeed of fighter pilots, supported by a number of pictures of aircraft on the ground and airfields (the section on the Imphal airfields is particularly revealing, showing how badly they were overlooked by hills that were often in Japanese hands). There are some nice themed sections, including one showing pilots ambushed while taking a bath. Despite the claim on the back there are very few pictures of aircraft in flight - I only found three.
The pictures are supported by excellent captions that provide interesting information about the careers of their subjects, before and after the picture. The picture sections are supported by 49 pages of chapter introductions (just under one third of the book), which give details of the Burma campaign, how it affected the RAF, the squadrons involved and the main air battles of the period under consideration.
The pictures themselves are of a generally high quality, and provide a good cross section of the varied faces of RAF pilots in Burma. I'd have liked more pictures of Indian Air Force pilots, but they are acknowledged, as are the two Burmese pilots who fought with the RAF.
1 - Caught on the Hop
2 - Retreat from Rangoon
3 - Life on the Airstrips
4 - The First Arakan Campaign
5 - The Arrival of the Spitfires
6 - Calcutta, Second Arakan & Operation THURSDAY
7 - The Defence of Imphal and Kohima
8 - Air Battles over Imphal and Kohima
9 - Finale
Author: Norman Franks
Publisher: Pen & Sword Aviation
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COMBAT STORIES FROM World War II
8:15 | B-24 flight engineer Bill Toombs was over Germany when bad went to worse. One engine was shot out. Then an 88 round went right through the number four wing tank. It didn't blow up the plane, but they lost all the fuel for that engine, so now they had two engines out. They made a desperate run for Brussels, which had been liberated.
More From Bill Toombs
Keywords : flight engineer Consolidated B-24 Liberator France anti-aircraft (AA) Germany 88 mm gun Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress cross feed Brussels Belgium Canadian chaff flak dancing Bill Toombs
Bill Toombs | WWII | 8th Air Force | 4:42
For four summers in a row, Bill Toombs attended the Citizens Military Training Camp, where he got the same instruction as army recruits. This convinced him he wanted no part of the infantry. Despite having no knowledge of aircraft, he followed his brother into the Army Air Corps.
Bill Toombs | WWII | 8th Air Force | 4:55
After his brother was killed in an air crash, Bill Toombs told his mother he would get a ground job in the Air Corps, and he did, at first. He completed several mechanic schools, but then he found himself at gunnery school.
Bill Toombs | WWII | 8th Air Force | 5:32
He had never been in a plane, but Bill Toombs was an aircraft mechanic who was on a track to be a flight engineer, which meant he also had to be a gunner. At gunnery school, there were a couple of hot shot pilots who were redheaded cousins and, of course, he drew one for his first flight.
Bill Toombs | WWII | 8th Air Force | 5:50
Once the B-24 crews were formed, flight engineer Bill Toombs didn't think he could have hand picked a better crew. He nearly missed shipping out with them when he got sick at a crucial time. He managed to recover in time to ride a new B-24 to England.
Bill Toombs | WWII | 8th Air Force | 4:53
B-24 flight engineer Bill Toombs was just getting acclimated to the English weather and formation flying when it was time for his first mission. At the briefing, the curtain came up and, it was official, D-day was on.
Bill Toombs | WWII | 8th Air Force | 4:49
The previous day began with the plane getting shot up and ended with dancing in the streets with Belgian girls. Bill Toombs was at an old German air field in Brussels, so he gathered up some souvenirs from the gear laying around. He didn't make it out with those, but after a few more missions, he was back in the states.
Bill Toombs | WWII | 8th Air Force | 5:30
Keesler Field was not a desirable post to Bill Toombs. It was so bad, he volunteered for a school in Buffalo, where there was a couple of feet of snow. His second day there, they handed him a piece of paper to sign. What is it? It's so you can go to China and fly the hump. Ahh. no, not going to do that.
Bill Toombs | WWII | 8th Air Force | 7:11
It was a great post. The barracks were nice and the duty wasn't bad, training B-24 crews. But, flight engineer Bill Toombs recalls that some of those pilots would scare you. One particular flight nearly led to his demise and that's when he decided he'd had enough of flying.
Most Valuable Contributing Ace To World War I
By Michael Grindle
via the Odyssey Online web site
In World War I, attacking through the air was a brand new form of warfare it provided for various tactical uses such as reconnaissance, air superiority and close air support of ground troops. During this time period, two bold aviators, Edward V. Rickenbacker and Frank Luke, Jr were pioneers on this new front of technology in the war. While each man made a sacrifice and risked his life in the hopes of making a difference in the war’s outcome, Frank Luke Jr. was the pilot who made the most valuable contribution to the War effort in World War I due to his personal sacrifice and the mission he carried out during his flying career.
Frank Luke, Jr. Leadership is a characteristic that has been found in most flying Aces and Medal of Honor recipients. Both Rickenbacker and Luke showed their leadership skills in various ways. For instance, they both served on voluntary patrol. By doing this, they both demonstrated their willingness to go and risk their lives, even when they did not have to do so.
One thing that sets Frank Luke Jr. apart from Edward Rickenbacker is the type of enemy they went after. Originally, both aviators fought against other pilots and downed a decent amount of enemy aircraft, but Frank Luke Jr. went on a different route after shooting down his share of enemy planes. Frank pursued German Observation balloons and shot down three of them. This is more critical to the war effort because these observation balloons were what allowed the Germans to see the movement of troops with less observation power, the German military would have less information on the position of their enemy. For this reason, Frank Luke Jr. made a more valuable contribution to fighting the enemy in World War I than Edward Rickenbacker did.
Additionally, Edward Rickenbacker was an excellent Ace—he was even named “America’s highest flying Ace,” but he made bold decisions that might not have always been the best. Many times, he disregarded the odds and he luckily made it out of his fights safely. On the other hand, Frank Luke Jr. made decisions with more regard to his current situation. He showed professionalism when he fought until the end against the Germans. He did not break even when people were shooting at him and in his last moments alive, he spent them defending himself and holding off the Germans. His bravery and determination helped him be one of the greatest flying Aces of the war and one of the most valuable airpower contributions to the war.
Lastly, one main difference between the two Aces and one that sets them apart, are their differences in intellectual powers. Edward Rickenbacker grew up always doing acts of courage and boldness. This explains his bold actions as an Ace during the war and why he would disregard odds and go for a target anyway. It helped him be an Ace—maybe even the best Ace of WWI—but not the most valuable contribution to the war.
On the other hand, Frank Luke Jr. was said to have quick thinking and be very creative. This might have stemmed from the fact that his spirit reflected that of his father who was into pioneering. It also could have contributed to his determination not to give up after being shot down.
Images of War: RAF Fighter Pilots over Burma, Norman Franks - History
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It is a recognized fact that, had the war gone badly for the Allies on the India/Burma front, and had the Japanese succeeded in invading the Indian Continent, the outcome of the war would have been entirely different. Yet despite this, the campaign on the Burma front is offered surprisingly scant coverage in the majority of photo-history books. This new book, from respected military historian and author Norman Franks, attempts to redress the balance, noting the importance of this particular aerial conflict within the wider context of the Second World War. Franks takes as his focus the pilots, aircraft and landscapes that characterized the campaign. Photographs acquired during the course of an intensive research period are consolidated into a volume that is sure to make for a popular addition to the established Images of War series. Many unpublished photographs feature, each one offering a new insight into the conflict as it unfolded over Burmese skies. The archive offers a wealth of dynamic images of RAF Hurricanes and Spitfires in flight, with shots of both the aircraft and the pilots employed during this challenging conflict. To fly and fight in Burma, pilots really had to be at the top of their game. The Japanese enemy certainly weren't the only problem to contend with weather, poor food, incredible heat and all its attendant maladies, jungle diseases, tigers, elephants, fevers. The Japanese were the real enemy but the British pilots had so much more to deal with. And they did it for years. In Britain, a pilot could look forward to a break from operations every six months or so on average. In Burma, pilots first employed in 1941 were still flying operations in 1944. The collection represents a determination on the author's part to record the part played by these resilient and skilled RAF fighter pilots, the contribution that they paid in supporting General Slim's 14th Army and the part they ultimately played in defeating the Japanese attempts to break through into India. These efforts, all paramount and imperative to success, are celebrated here in words and images in a volume sure to appeal to Spitfire and Hurricane enthusiasts, as well as the more general reader.