Carrier Pilot (Book Review)
I only wanted to read a review, but recently bought Norman Hanson’s wartime classic “Carrier Pilot” with one inadvertent click.
The paper version has 306 pages, which meant I paid a penny a page to get an insight into a Fleet Air Arm’s contribution during World War II.
Which is a whole lot less than the human, emotional and material cost to the Allies in the skies over the West Pacific.
Hanson charts his progress from civil servant to Lieutenant Commander DSC, which includes exploits in ancient bi-planes right through to Corsairs.
The Chance-Vought F4U Corsair looks the “real deal” with a 18 cylinder 2000 bhp engine up front and a sturdy airframe. Hans once hit over 500 mph in a dive.
These were fearsome machines, with plenty of fire power but a variety of nasty traits.
Early machines had a habit of killing novice pilots as the landing gear compressed and bounced the plane on anything but the very best deck landings.
On the land this would be far from ideal, but at sea it often brought tragedy as the machines fell off the carrier into the drink, smashed into something solid, or up ended on deck.
The British Pacific Fleet had two squadrons of these menacing machines, and they supported the Yanks in the war against Japan.
The carriers taking “our boys” to war were at the mercy of kamikaze pilots, and Hanson reports on the resultant mess when these suicidal pilots “got through”.
If you want a niche view on World War II flying you won’t be disappointed. There are numerous “Laugh out Loud” moments, many of these revolving around “off duty” activities.
Rating – Nine out of Ten