Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Mosquito: Menacing the Reich - Martin Bowman

Martin Bowman has written extensively on the Mosquito and his latest effort is perhaps the most wide-ranging of them all. Through almost 300 detailed pages and more than 80 photographs, he explores ops across the whole gamut of Mossie ‘jobs’ – low-level strike, Pathfinders, anti-shipping, “Cookie” bombing, target marking, intruders, photo-recce, USAAF usage and, pleasingly, ops in the Far East.

Mosquito will appeal to all readers as it provides an excellent summary (for want of a better word) of just what this wonderful aircraft and her crews were employed to do. However, it is not infallible and I found the chronological blow-by-blow accounts of operations in each chapter occasionally hard to follow and, at times, suffering from the use of repetitive wording. The editing is of a reasonably good standard but falls away in the second half.

Beyond this periphery of minor ‘gremlins’, though, is where Mosquito really shines above anything I’ve read in recent months. Importantly, through numerous resources (excellent and very readable notes are provided in case you want to follow things further), the author has included many passages written or spoken by Mosquito aircrew. These range from anecdotes of several lines to entire accounts of raids that span several pages and make for fascinating reading. Looking at the book from this angle, the author has very cleverly provided the context, the skeleton if you will, and then let the aircrew speak for themselves to “flesh-out” the bones of the book.

The Mosquito and her aircrew have already achieved legendary status but Martin Bowman’s latest, while going over familiar territory, may just enhance that reputation.

I reviewed this title very late last year for Steve Darlow's Fighting High e-zine - http://www.fightinghigh.com/ - which is now being developed into a series of books.

The copy I have is a well-produced hardback by Pen & Sword and is available from their website and Amazon of course. There are many photos in the book including a surprising number of USAAF aircrew and Mossies.

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