Blackburn Skua and Roc Book Review
By Ray Mehlberger
|Date of Review||November 2007||Title||Blackburn Skua and Roc|
|Author||Matthew Willis||Publisher||Mushroom Model Publications|
|Format||128 pages, softbound||MSRP (USD)||$22.95|
This new book by Mushroom Model Publications (MMP) is in their usual 9” x 6 ½” soft-cover format that they use for their books on aircraft subjects. It is 160 pages long.
This latest book in the MMP “Orange Series” is about the Skua and Roc, two British naval aircraft with poor reputations. In the case of the Skua, undeservedly so, as this book explains. The design and development of both types is described in detail, and their service histories related. On the few occasions where it was used properly, the Skua proved to be a very effective dive-bomber, and it also operated as a fleet fighter, though with less success. However, it was available, and flown with great skill, when more appropriate aircraft were not to be found. The Roc turreted fighter had even less success than it’s RAF equivalent, the Defiant, but as this book shows it DID fly on operations and WAS operated from a carrier, contrary to previous claims.
The Blackburn Skua was the Fleet Air Arm’s first monoplane and it’s first dedicated dive-bomber. Its derivative, the Roc, was the only turret fighter to see action with the Royal Navy.
The book charts the development and service history of the two aircraft, through the difficult specification process, reaching squadron service on the eve of war. The baptism of fire in the Norwegian campaign of 1940 and eventual second-line use. Many of the photos have never been in print before. The photos show fragments of the surviving Skuas in museums. The book also includes many first-hand accounts from the men who flew in and maintained the Skuas and Roc, describing never-before heard experiences of the aircraft in action.
The book is profusely illustrated with 82 black and white wartime photos, 21 black and white photos as walk around shots, 25 color photos of a very derelict Skua that is due to be restored (walk-around type), 17 1/72nd scale line drawings of Skuas and Roc’s, a drawing of the upper camouflage layouts used on Rocs (not to scale), 2 data tables, 10 drawings out of tech manuals, 23 color side profile illustrations of Skuas in various camouflage patterns and 8 of the Roc (a couple of these showing it on pontoons). These range from bright pre-war colors to more prosaic target-tug markings.
With luck we may yet see a complete Skua airframe being restored.
This book is an invaluable and timely reference source for aircraft enthusiasts and scale modelers.