Edited by: Ian Cowie, Dim Jones and Chris Long
Halldale Media Group (2017)
This is the third and final installment of the “Out of the Blue” series of books. The books consist of collected stories of Royal Air Force personnel past and present. Many eras are covered, from World War II up to the present.
As with the first two books in the series, this final volume gives the reader a solid cross section of aircraft types and bases used by the RAF from the Second World War to the present as well as a varied selection of mission taskings that were flown by the various types of aircraft. Most stories also include a photo or two of the aircraft type featured in the tale for those readers who may not be familiar with it.
This installment of the series has aspects of both the first two volumes and that works both for and against it at times.
Most of the stories here, as in the first volume, happen in the cockpit or very close to the aircraft and give good insights into what they were like to work around and operate. Digressions into off duty antics are few and far between.
Like the first volume, there’s lots of hair raising tales in this installment that get straight to the point and put the reader in the thick of things.
As with the second volume, some of the stories in the third book could have done with a bit tighter editing as they go on a bit.
One example of this is spread across three chapters and covers the sinking of the German battleship, Tirpitz. While a very interesting and engaging tale, the editorial notes make it quite clear that the story was taken from another book with that author’s permission.
While taking an exerpt from another book to gain material is not generally a problem for me, I feel that taking enough material to constitute three chapters is pushing things a bit in a book such as this and taking space away from possibly one or two more independent stories.
An additional problem, especially with the WWII stories, is that there is a lot of service and period specific slang that goes unexplained. All of the stories have some footnotes to explain some of the acronyms and jargon; a similar treatment to the slang in the WWII stories would have been helpful in several places.
The above mentioned criticisms certainly don’t take away from my recommending this book for both good stories and the completeness of the three volume collection.
As with the previous two volumes, this one was also published to raise awareness and funds for the RAF Benevolent Fund and other British military veterans’ charities.
This link will take you to the book’s page on the RAF Benevolent Fund website: