No.137 Squadron 1941-1945 Book Review
|Date of Review||May 2011||Title||No.137 Squadron 1941-1945|
|Format||30 pages, softbound||MSRP (Euro)||11.95€|
RAF-in-Combat has released another installment in their RAF, Dominion & Allied Squadrons at War: Study, History and Statistics series. This series is similar to their Famous Squadrons series but these titles are published in A4 format where Famous Squadrons were published in a smaller booklet format. In addition, it looks like this publisher has departed from the ISBN book catalog numbering system as many small companies have to save cost and hassle given that most of their titles are sold directly from the website rather than through bookstores and other stockists where the ISBN would be needed. This all means that the these new titles cost less!
In this title, the author takes a look at the operations of 137 Squadron, a rather hard-luck squadron stood up in September 1941. Unlike many other new units which received hand-me-down fighters, 137 Sqn was one of two squadrons equipped with the Westland Whirlwind. In fact, in the early days of the squadron, there were far more aircraft than pilots on station. The first tragedy came only four days after the squadron became operational when an inexperienced pilot collided with the squadron commander, killing both of them. The next came for four Whirlwinds sent to cover some Royal Navy ships and while they didn't find their escorts, they did spot what they thought were friendly battleships. These 'friendlies' where the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau making their famous channel dash and the four Whirlwinds were shot down by the escorting Luftwaffe fighters.
The squadron was re-roled to fighter-bomber duty with the Whirlwinds reconfigured with rocket and bomb racks. These were exchanged for the Hurricane IV briefly before the squadron transitioned into the Typhoon for the rest of the war. Even though they were primarily fighter-bombers, the squadron did achieve some aerial victories, most notably against the V-1 buzz bombs with five kills tallied to the squadron. Before war's end, the squadron had 45 pilots killed and eight became POWs.
This title chronicles the history, personnel, and aircraft of 137 Squadron including some nice color profiles of selected aircraft.
Coverage in this title includes:
- Squadron History
- Appendix I: Squadron Commanders and Flight Commanders
- Appendix II: Major awards
- Appendix III: Operational diary (number of sorties per month)
- Appendix IV: Victory list
- Appendix V: Details of aircraft losses on operations
- Appendix VI: Details of Aircraft losses in accidents
- Appendix VII: Aircraft Serial Numbers & Letter Codes
- Appendix VIII: Roll Call
- Appendix IX: Roll of Honour
- Color Profiles
The title is nicely illustrated with color profiles of representative aircraft from the squadron, photos of many of the pilots and men assigned to 137 Sqn, as well as period photographs of squadron aircraft.
The format of this title is very well done and provides the aviation historian and modeler alike with excellent information to answer questions or as a starting point for further research. This title is highly recommended and I certainly hope to see many more in this format in the future!
My sincere thanks to Phil H. Listemann for the review sample.