Prelude to War
...The RAF 1936-1939, from Pen & Sword
Title: Prelude to War, The RAF 1936-1939
Author: Martin Derry
Publisher: Pen & Sword
Another addition to the popular Images of War series and one which takes a look at the RAF in the period building up to the start of WW2. A 164-page softcover book packed with archive photos.
After a few pages of introductory text the book is split into 5 chapters. These start with Fighters, a selection of the varied types of biplanes that were in service with the RAF from the early 1930s, such as the Gauntlet, Bulldog, Hart, Demon and the RAFs final biplane fighter, the Gladiator. It does include the Spitfire and Hurricane in their very early forms, though there were still not enough to have replaced all the other fighters by the time war broke out. It also includes a photo of a type I can't remember seeing before, the Vickers Type 279 Venom. These are followed by the Bombers, where once again we see the early RAF types such as the Battle, the Hampden and the ultimately unsuccessful Manchester, before it later became the famous Lancaster. There are more biplanes, and in reading some of the informative captions, I am sure I won't be the only one surprised to see how long some remained in service, albeit in support roles in India and the Far East. Chapter 3 moves on to The Searchers: Maritime Patrol, where the Sunderland started to perform well but again, some surprises on how long some of the older types stayed in service. This is followed by General Purpose, Army Cooperation and Miscellaneous duties. Again, some like the Wapiti, Wallace, Vincent and Vildebeest served on longer than I thought in various support roles. Everything is rounded off with 'Waiting in the Wings, the early models of some aircraft that were to make a name for themselves later in the war.
A fine collection of images, and all accompanied by some helpful and well informed captions. I think modellers and aviation historians will enjoy this one.
Thanks to Pen & Sword for our review copy.