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Franks, Norman L. R. Royal Air Force Fighter Command Losses of the Second World War, volume one. Leicester: Midland Publishing Limited, 1997
Acknowledgements; Sources & Bibliography; Introduction; Glossary of Terms; photos.
Appendices: Fighter Command Order of Battle for 8th August 1940; January 1941; 1st June 1941; Night Fighter Squadrons Operational or Being Formed, July 1941; Wing Leaders, 1941
This slender little softcover volume contains the day-by-day record of Fighter Command aircraft and crew operational losses from September 1939 through the end of 1941. Forthcoming volumes will carry the record to the end of the war. Aside from a few photographs and brief remarks at the beginning of each chapter, the author limits himself to the tabular presentation of the details of each loss. The format is very similar to that used by W. R. Chorley in his Royal Air Force Bomber Command Losses of the Second World War series (from Midland Publishing's sister company, Midland Counties Publications).
The book is divided into eight chronological chapters:
The Phoney War
Within each section the losses are presented in chronological sequence with columns for squadron number, aircraft model, aircraft serial number, names and ranks of crew, fate of crew (with the symbol "+" indicating killed), and notes on the loss with cross references to further incidents involving the same aircraft or crew when applicable.
Although conceived and produced for different purposes, Fighter Command Losses bears comparison with John Foreman's recent Fighter Command War Diaries from Air Research. In a sense, Franks' book is almost a subset of Foreman's, as the latter includes losses along with enemy aircraft destroyed and damaged, RAF daily reports, biographical sketches, personal recollections, aircraft specifications, etc. Fighter Command Losses is no less valuable for its tighter focus and greater elaboration on each loss and, overall, a more tabular approach. Where Foreman notes the quantity of RAF aircraft written off and pilots lost each day, Franks records the aircraft serial number, name of pilot, and so on. It should be noted, however, that there seem to be unresolved discrepancies between the two books in regard to losses on specific dates.
Franks' book can also be usefully compared to Donald Caldwell's The JG 26 War Diary from Grub Street. It's interesting to note entries for the same dates from contending points of view:
My only quibble with an otherwise excellent compilation is the lack of an index, a feature which would be very handy in a reference work like this. It also appears as though the Defiant I losses for May 12/13 1940 are mistakenly listed in the section on Norway.
Bravo Norman Franks and Midland Publishing for producing a fine book on such a specialized topic and for providing further evidence of the extremely high calibre of our contemporary air historians.
Available from mail order booksellers and local bookshops; in the UK directly from Midland; and in the US and Canada from the North American distributor, Specialty Press.
Thanks to Specialty for providing this review copy.
Reviewed 13 October 1997
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