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Johnnie Johnson joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve in 1939 as a week-end flier, and finished the war as the top-scoring Allied fighter pilot with thirty-eight confirmed victories. Except for six months rest, he flew with the fighter squadrons until V.E. Day, earning ten major decorations. Wing Leader is his account of the outnumbered fighter pilots who won the Battle of Britain, of the bitter fighting over Dieppe, and of the final battles across the skies of France and over the Rhine when, as a group captain,

The highest scoring RAF fighter pilot to survive the war, Johnnie Johnson shot down 38 enemy aircraft in the skies over Western Europe between June 1941 and September 1944. This tally is remarkable on two counts. Johnson began his operational career after the end of the Battle of Britain, which provided such a rich harvest of combat victories for many of his peers as the Luftwaffe's air fleets attacked virtually day after day. Kills were much harder to obtain on the fighter sweeps over enemy territory which succeeded the battle, operations for which the Spitfire was much less suited than it had been to the role of airdefence in the summer of 1940. In addition, all Johnson's victories,with the exception of a quarter share in a Messerschmitt 110, were against single-seat fighters - easily the most formidable opponents.

Johnson had that sine qua non of the combat pilot, a relentless desire to be at grips with the enemy, which is the hallmark of the finest troops. This was allied to coolness as a pilot and a tremendous eye and judgment once the target was in his gunsights. Johnson often likened air combat to wildfowling, and brought to his performance with the 20 mm cannon of the Spitfire much the same principles of deflection shooting which had made him so effective against game birds with a shotgun in his youth.

Hardcover 1956 Please click here to ask a question
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