Defiant, Blenheim and Havoc Aces

Published: August 7th, 2012     
Author: Andrew Thomas
Reviewed by: Pablo Bauleo - IPMS# 46363
ISBN #: 978-1-84908-666-0
Other Publication Information: Softcover, 96 pages, b&w historical photos, 36 color profiles, ace appendices
Price: $23.95
Product / Stock #: Aircraft of the Aces 105
Product provided by: Osprey Publishing

This book from the series Aircraft of the Aces covers the exploits of Defiant, Blenheim, and Havocs in the RAF (with only one exception of the USAAF). It follows the chronological order of the type's services in the RAF.

First, the book covers the day fighter role of the Defiant over Dunkirk and the Battle of Britain, when it was quickly realized the airplane needed to be flying only against unescorted bombers and therefore converted to night fighter duties. Interestingly enough Defiants and Blenheims could hold their own their own against Bf-109s, but only if flown by well-trained pilots and if the whole flight would utilize proper tactics to coordinate protection for each other.

During the winter of 1940-41, Defiants and Blenheims found their niche as night fighters and fought a long and treacherous defensive battle against the Luftwaffe over the skies of England. Later in the summer of 1941, the RAF went on the offensive, flying intruder missions over France and adding the Havoc to their ranks.

A few unusual tactics were used by the Havocs, such as the "Turbinlite" mods, which basically were hunter-killer teams with a Hurricane. The Havoc would carry a searchlight and radar (being the hunter) and one an enemy airplane was identified and illuminated; the Hurricane (in the killer role) would shoot down the bomber. This configuration was not successful, but despite that it was in service for over a year. Another tactic was to drop aerial mines (bomblets deployed by parachute) in front of a "plot" for an enemy bomber formation. However, the most effective role for the Havoc was the AI-controlled night fighter/intruder.

Beyond the Channel-centered operations, there is a chapter devoted to Blenheims in Coastal Command - mainly convoy patrol duties - and service over the North African desert and the Horn of Africa, were they had some brushes with the Regia Aeronautica. The same chapter also includes the Blenheim participation on the defense of Greece, Malaysia, Iraq, and Norway.

The only non-RAF operation covered in the book is the P-70 role in the Pacific by the USAAF, which is very briefly described in the last chapter of the book.

The book has plenty of B&W photos and 36 full color profiles of Defiants, Blenheims, and Havocs. It also has an appendix listing all the aces that scored victories flying in any of the above types, with a breakdown of victories in each type and overall number of claims.

This book is highly recommended to history aficionados and aviation modelers due to the large number of period pictures that are highly valuable references.

I would like to thank Osprey Publishing and IPMS/USA for the review sample.

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