introductionSpitfire Aces of Northwest Europe 1944-45
is the 122 book in Osprey Publishing Ltd
's series Aircraft of the Aces.
Authored by Andrew Thomas and illustrated by Chris Thomas, it delivers a comprehensive account of this iconic fighter aircraft, including 36 original color plates.
This book traces the achievements of the pilots flying the iconic Spitfire in Northwest Europe, and examines how the steady technological improvements that were made throughout the Spitfire’s service life improved its capabilities in the air. Based at airfields throughout southern England, Merlin engine Spitfires provided the bulk of the air cover for the D-Day landings and it was an RCAF Spitfire which claimed the first ever ME 262 jet kill. 36 colour profiles covering a broad spectrum of nationalities, units, pilots, theatres and markings complement thorough research throughout this comprehensive account of these crucial fighter aircraft. - Osprey Publishing
This book is available in paperback, ePub, and PDF formats.
ContentsSpitfire Aces of Northwest Europe 1944-45
is presented in six chapters and an appendices through 96 pages:
1. Early Encounters
2. Preparing for Invasion
4. On to the Rhine
5. Into the Reich
Color plate commentary
The website - and perhaps UK distributed run - list of chapters is different than the above. This is a common trait of Osprey Publishing Ltd.
Author Andrew Thomas penned an easy to read and well narrated book that flows and captures the imagination, with many personal accounts. The text mentions the different marks of Spitfires as well as classifies them by engine, i.e., Merlin-engined Spitfires. Interesting explanations and clarifications of RAF organizational structure and terminology is included by explaining ADGB (Air Defense of Great Britain), the birth of 2nd TAF (Tactical Air Force), and Fighter Command. Individual pilots are usually named in combat encounters, as well as the aircraft codes and airframe serial numbers. I was surprised at how many Spitfire V types were still in use, even operating over Germany.
Spitfires continued to fly pre-invasion missions up to D-Day, and flew cover for the invasion. How the Spitfire performed against Bf 109s and FW 190s (long- and short-nosed) and successful combats against Luftwaffe jets are recounted. Spitfires were also flown by pilots of occupied countries, and allowed those exiled patriots to exact a toll against the Nazi war machine.
Over the years I have noted a comparative paucity of multiple-kill sorties by Spitfires compared to USAAF fighter groups. This book reveals that Spitfires pilots have some multi-kill missions, although I was surprised as to how many pilots became "ace-in-a-day" with the Spitfire. And that
account is related, by the pilot, in the text.
Pilot accounts are plentiful. Not surprisingly, there are descriptions of the Spitfire's performance against the Axis aircraft;
The Spitfire VII can easily out-turn a '190, and easier still if the '190 pilot opens his throttle.
Another pilot wrote;
"Oh, my God, you poor sucker. You must be straight out of training school", I thought. It seemed so unfair, and spoilt the exhilaration of the chase. This was not to be an exciting duel, but a massacre. Worse was to follow. I opened fire and was horrified and sickened to see my cannon shells not knock off a wing or tail of the aircraft, but blast straight into the cockpit, instantly killing the pilot. The aircraft flipped over and hit the ground. "I am sorry, I didn't mean that", I said out loud.
photographs, artwork, graphics
This book is full of wonderful photographs of the aircraft and the pilots. Modelers, historians and artists will find a bonanza of images to inspire and clarify. D-Day stripes of all types are clearly shown. As are Spitfires flying, landing, taking off, and sitting on the ground (and shot down) in various states of majesty and maintenance. The photographs are mostly high quality with good shadows and highlights, clearly focused, and nicely framed. Many are less than studio quality and are few are obviously amateur "grab shots", yet all fortify and enhance the text.
Artist Chris Thomas created 36 original color profiles of Spitfires, from Spitfire V to the bubbletop XVI. Each profile has an accompanying narrative appendices.
Summing up the exploits in the appendices are three pages of tables of Spitfire Aces of Northwest Europe 1944-45
2nd TAF Claims
ConclusionSpitfire Aces of Northwest Europe 1944-45
is a well written account of the role Spitfire pilots played before and after the D-Day invasion, until the end of the war. It is full of pilot accounts and interesting information. Thirty-six color profiles of the aircraft are wonderful resources.
I recall a couple of minor typos but they did not distract from the text nor make me question the efficacy of this title, thus I did not write them down in my notes.
Historians, modelers and artists of the last year of the European air war, 2nd TAF, Spitfires, and the RAF should find this a valuable book for their shelves.
We thank Osprey Publishing for supplying this book for review here at