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The Forgotten Fighters

The Forgotten Fighters Book Review

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review June 2015 Title The Forgotten Fighters
Author Phil Listemann Publisher Philedition
Published 2015 ISBN 978-2918590-57-6
Format 38 pages, softbound MSRP (USD) $13.95


Here is an interesting title from Phil Listemann - The Forgotten Fighters. While Great Britain was desperate for aircraft during the late 1930s/early 1940s, they evaluated a number of US-designed aircraft for RAF service. The first one covered in this title is the Bell P-39 Airacobra (though the British versions were configured differently and designated P-400). The RAF evaluated that the Airacobra wasn't suitable for service, but they were directed to put the aircraft into service anyway. 601 Squadron began their rocky transition into the Airacobra and did operate the aircraft on a number of combat missions before the RAF graciously gave all of the surviving Airacobras to their Soviet comrades.

The RAAF transitioned four squadrons to the Airacobra and flew quite a few more combat missions than their RAF counterparts, but they too were happy to return the Airacobras to the Yanks and fly the Spitfire when it finally arrived in quantity. The author provides nice details on the operations of the Airacobra in Commonwealth service as well as the fates of a number of airframes.

Did you know that the RAF evaluated a 'custom' version of the P-38 Lightning without couter-rotating propellers? Did you know that the Lightning did enter Commonwealth service, but only the reconnaissance versions? The details are in here. Did you know that the RCAF flew the Grumman GG-1 (export version of the FF-1)? Did you know that the RAF performed flight test on a number of other US designs not intended for RAF service, but simply for expanding allied aerodynamic knowledge? One of those included the Bell P-59 Airacomet. The RAF may have fixed the aircraft but the war ended and the aircraft was returned and scrapped before it could be tested. Those interesting facts and details are also here.

This is a very interesting title that covers 'the rest of the story', as the late Paul Harvey would say, looking at the technical and political aspects of lend-lease. This title will be a nice addition to the aviation historian or modeler's reference library, especially if you're looking for something different to build! Check out this and other titles offered by this author on his RAF-in-Combat website.

My sincere thanks to Phil H. Listemann for the review sample.