Valiant Boys

AUTHOR: Tony Blackman & Anthony Wright
PUBLISHER: Grub Street
PRICE: $29.95
NOTES: Softbound, 192 pages, ISBN 978-1-911621-2-9


Valiant Boys is a collection of personal accounts by aircrew and ground crew about operating Great Britain's first V-bomber, the Vickers Valiant. The book's prologue offers a gripping account of the mid-air breakup of the first prototype by one of the surviving crew members. Some of the subsequent chapters offer recollections and anecdotes about the Valiant's flight development, its use in testing atomic weapons, and its participation in the Suez conflict. Other chapters have accounts of the Valiant's transition to airborne tanking, use as a photo-reconnaissance platform, and making the switch from high altitude bombing to low level mission profiles. Several chapters are devoted to air and ground crew's stories of day to day operations in all of the squadrons that flew Valiants. The last two chapters in the book have reviews of some accidents involving Valiants and a discussion of the inadequate steps taken to protect participants exposed to radiation during the atomic weapons testing.

Although, not specifically directed toward modelers, the book has numerous photos in both black and white and color (including shots of the cockpit and the aft crew compartment). There is also some color artwork. Unusually, the pages are printed on relatively thick and stiff paper, almost like file card stock.

To be honest, I didn't have high expectations for this book. I was given a gift certificate to a local used book store as a Christmas gift. I thought the book store in question mainly sold 2nd hand romance novels, but I decided to take a look anyway, figuring I might pick up some cookbooks or gardening guides. I was surprised to find that the store had a small military history section with some new books on inventory. I traded the gift certificate and a little cash for the Valiant Boys and two other books. I'm glad that I did as the book turned out to be an interesting and entertaining read. So much so, in fact, that I went and bought the Airfix 1/72 Vickers Valiant kit. I recommend Valiant Boys to anyone with an interest in cold war aircraft and early jets.

Rob Hart

April 2024

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