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
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 176
Publisher: Pen & Sword Aviation
Year: 2014

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