Pen & Sword's Best of Breed

Author/Artists: Nigel Walpole


Pen & Sword


$28.95 from Casemate


Scott Van Aken

Notes: 216 pages, softcover, 8.5 x 5.25 inches
ISBN: 978-1-526784322

This book is one I was very much looking forward to reading. Mainly because the Hunter is one of my favorite aircraft and becaus one rarely reads anything of the photo reconnaissance version. The FR.10 was a plane born fairly late in the development of the aircraft and came about as the previous FR (fighter-reconnaissance) aircraft, the Supermarine Swift, was in need of replacement.

Like the Swift, the Hunter was subsonic in normal flight, but for the day, that was sufficient for tactical reconnaissance. The decision was made to only have three oblique cameras and not install vertical cameras in the plane. This allowed the Hunter to keep its four cannon armament, an item that came in quite handy in terms of self defense and in being able to shoot up a target before it got away.

Development went quite quickly and the type was in service for a fair amount of time. Its main operating areas were in Germany, the Mediterranean and the Gulf area. Most of its hotter action was seen in the Gulf area, especially in Aden, where there was a constant low level war going on.

The author is very much a specialist is tactical recon, having flown a number of fast jets during his career in the RAF. This makes him especially knowledgeable about the aircraft, the tactics used and the operational conditions at various locations.

When one adds to this volume not only his experiences, but the experiences of others in the recce community who flew the Hunter during those times, you have what is a super read on the subject. The stories herein are not only quite eye-opening, but for those of us who have served in the military, quite believable and at time funny as well.

The book is profusely illustrated with literally hundreds of photos; most of them in black and white. Here is the down side of the book. The prose is superb. The photos are substandard. They are simply not well printed and are quite lacking in contrast. I have provided a sample page to show what I mean. They are not impossible, just not well printed. Note that the tan cast to the photo is due to the lighting I've used as the page background is white. Perhaps it is just my copy or a small portion of the run, but whatever the case, they could be better.

Despite that it is a great book on the subject and while the photos do temper my recommendation, it is still worth picking up.

December 2020

Copyright All rights reserved.

Review book courtesy of  Casemate Publishing, where you can order your copy at this link

If you would like your product reviewed fairly and fairly quickly, please contact me or see other details in the Note to Contributors.