Mikael Forslund was born on June 7, 1960 and currently lives in Falun, Sweden. He has worked as a press photographer since 1978 both as a freelancer and as a staff photographer and currently uses Nikon cameras. He has authored over twenty books with his latest book on Spitfire in Sweden celebrating the 80th anniversary of the first flight of the aircraft type on March 5, 1936. His other books include Torpedflyget i Sverige (1998), P-35A, AT-12, and P-66 in Swedish Service as J 9, B 6, and J 10 (2008), Gloster Gladiator and Hawker Hart: In Combat with the Swedish Voluntary Wing F19, Finland 1940 (2009), Saab J 21 / J 21R (2010), Glosterflygpan I Svensk Tjanst: Gloster Aircraft in Sweden Service (2012), Caproni Ca 313 R.P.B./S: B 16A - S16 A T 16A - Tp 16A (2012), Swedish Piston Fighter Colours: 1926-1954 (2012), Night Raiders during the Cold War with J 30 and J 33 Mosquito Venom F 1 in Vasteras, looking to the east (2013), Heinkelflüg in Sweden (2014); as well as several that are coming out soon: U.S. Military Aircraft in the Royal Swedish Air Force (2017), Saab 29 Flygande Tunnan (2017), Swedish Jet Fighter Colours (2017). You can see more at his webpage: http://mikaelforslundproduktion.com/ .
Although this book is primarily focused on the fifty Mk. XIX Spitfires acquired by Sweden after the war, Mikael Forslund actually endeavors to cover all Spitfires that have visited Sweden. The first was a Mk. IV Spitfire that the pilot had bailed out of after being damaged by German anti-aircraft fire while searching for the German battleship, Tirpitz. The Spitfire, AB314, flew on before crashing near Lillåsvallen in August 1942. Parts of this Spitfire are on display at Morup in the FLC collection.
Sweden had actually been in negotiations with Britain for most of the war trying to procure Spitfires for defense, but as usual, politics on both sides intruded and nothing happened. The US actually delivered 50 surplus P-51D Mustangs in April 1945, which created a brand new political firestorm from the British as the Americans were interfering in their potential market (even though the British still were not ready to part with their Spitfires. Mikael Forslund covers additional Spitfire visits to Sweden that were for the most part promotional on the British part, trying to get the Swedes to come to the Brits’ terms.
The Spitfires that Sweden eventually got were the Mk. XIX photo-reconnaissance version, an aircraft that had never seen operational service with the RAF. Most of these aircraft had been delivered and immediately been placed in storage. Politics still ruled the day however, and it wasn’t until a contract was finally signed in May 1948, that 50 of the promised 70 Spitfires, designated S 31 in Sweden, began the process of delivery to Sweden. The next 165 pages are devoted to the service of the S 31 Spitfires in Swedish service. Forslund provides never before published photographs to support the S 31 Spitfire’s service with Wing F11. He also includes many first person remembrances of the S 31 Spitfire during its service along with descriptions of the S 31 Spitfire’s mission, technical description, flights, and sadly, crashes.
Thierry Vallet provides sixteen gorgeous color profiles (1/40 scale) that show the different color schemes, and the migration from the British PRU blue to a darker blue. These profiles also characterize the difference in the national insignia where some were in ‘English colors’ before eventually going to the standard ‘Swedish’ national insignia colors. Forslund also provides an extra bit for the avid modeler with comparisons of the real colors on display in the F 11 museum as compared with the ‘official’ colors they were supposed to be carrying.
Unfortunately, no S 31 Spitfires survived. The last S 31 was s/n 31039 used by the Stockholm Vocational School for mechanic training, but it was scrapped in 1962. The Swedish Air Museum initiated a search to locate a suitable Spitfire for its museum in the 1970s. In the end a P.R. Mk. XIX was located and essentially traded for a J 34 Hunter, a Swedish Skyraider (AD-4W), a Douglas C-47, and three Saab A 32A Lansens. This Spitfire, PM 627, restoration was completed in 1989 and is currently on display at the Swedish Air Museum. Forslund completes his round up of Spitfires in Sweden with coverage of air show visits, privately owned Spitfires in Sweden, and a Spitfire that is being restored to airworthiness in Stockholm.
The Table of Contents includes the following sections:
Modeler’s have been well served by new tool kits in both 1/72 and 1/48 that address the S 31 Spitfire from Airfix. Excellent decals are available from RB Design (by Robert Bergwall, featured in this book) as well as from Flying Colors Aerodecals (by Sten Sundelin at www.fcadedcals.com ).
Mikael Forslund has delivered a great history on the S 31 Spitfire that not only covers the operational history, but provides a good basis for the modeler with action and nice detail shots. I especially appreciated the many pilot interviews as they provide a great first person perspective. I counted 498 black and white photographs, 88 color photographs, 16 color profiles, and 18 black and white drawings. A color map of Sweden’s Wings and Air Bases is included as well.
My thanks to Mushroom Model Publications and IPMS/USA for the chance to review this great book.