Further reading and viewing
The following titles are understood to still be in print as at December 2010. Click on book title for further details of these recommended books. Please note that where I have used a supplier link instead of the publisher (i.e. because I can't locate the publisher's website!) this does not necessarily mean I endorse that supplier and the link is used to provide information only. The books (and DVDs) featured should be available from all reputable outlets. If unsure I recommend you contact the Fleet Air Arm Museum shop at RNAS Yeovilton where the staff there will be happy to help.
'The de Havilland Sea Vixen' by Tony Buttler (2007, Air Britain). A comprehensive and detailed history of this impressive aircraft which gave sterling service to the Fleet Air Arm during the 1960s. Contains many invaluable first hand accounts from former pilots, observers and support crew. Highly recommended.
'Fleet Air Arm Fixed-Wing Aircraft since 1946' by Ray Sturtivant with Mick Burrow and Lee Howard (2004, Air-Britain). The level of detail contained in this mighty volume of 640 pages really has to be seen to be believed. Every single post-war FAA aircraft is listed by type and serial number together with details of squadron allocation and all incidents from category SS (no damage) to ZZ (total loss). There is also an index of all aircrew involved which runs to over 7000 names. No words of praise are too high for the authors who must have almost lived in the Fleet Air Arm Museum archive to produce such an impressive book.
Prelude To The Sea Vixen: DH.110 by Henry Matthews (2001, HPM Publications). Published to mark the 50th anniversary of the de Havilland DH110 this book provides a very detailed analysis and background to the concept, design and pre-production testing of this fascinating aircraft.
'Meteor Eject!' by Nick Carter (2000, Woodfield Publishing). A highly entertaining and informative account of early jet flying in the RAF, Nick Carter provides extensive details of the many challenges and dangers involved in flying the Gloster Meteor in particular.
From Tailhooker To Mudmover by Dick Lord (2003, Corporal Publications). This book traces an extraordinary career through nearly four decades of military aviation. Dick Lord covers in both compelling and amusing detail, his life first as a Sea Vixen pilot in the Fleet Air Arm and later as a F-4 Phantom pilot with the United States Navy. His unusual career then led to combat in Southern Africa as a Mirage F1 squadron commander. He later rose to the rank of brigadier-general in the South African Air Force. Highly recommended.
Books no longer in print
Books by their nature, unless they are bestsellers, have a nasty habit of only being in print for a short period of time. The following books have been a great source of interest and help to me and also come highly recommended. In many cases it should be relatively easy to obtain a copy from a reputable on-line second hand seller or via Amazon.co.uk. However, some will no doubt command a higher than usual price.
'HMS Victorious (1937-1969)' by Neil McCart (1998, Fan Publications). Detailed history of the famous aircraft carrier. The author has also published books about HMS Eagle, HMS Hermes, HMS Centaur and others.
'HMS Ark Royal IV' by Richard Johnstone-Bryden (1999, Sutton Publishing Ltd.). An excellent book fully detailing the history of this mighty aircraft carrier. Includes several interviews with Fleet Air Arm aircrew and descriptions of embarked aircraft in front line service.
'De Havilland Vampire, Venom & Sea Vixen' by Philip Birtles (1986, Ian Allan publishing).
'De Havilland Twin Booms' by Adrian Balch (2002, Airlife Publishing Ltd.). Contains dozens of excellent quality colour photographs of Vampires, Venoms and Vixens (mostly FAW2) in service.
'Fly No More' by Lt. Cdr. Brian Davies AFC RN (2001, Airlife Publishing Ltd.). Brian Davies, who has sadly died since writing this excellent book, describes in detail his rewarding career as a pilot in the FAA during which he was the Royal Navy's test pilot in the Phantom F4-K and CO of 892 Squadron.
'Fly Navy- The View from the Cockpit 1945-1995' edited by Charles Manning (2000, Leo Cooper\Pen & Swords Book Ltd). Published in partnership with The Fleet Air Arm Officers Association to commemorate the new millennium. Contains 95 first hand accounts by Royal Navy pilots and observers from the period 1945 - 2000.
'Fly Navy - Aircraft of The Fleet Air Arm since 1945' by Ray Williams (1989, Airlife Publishing Ltd). Illustrated history of aircraft (fixed wing and rotary) used by the Fleet Air Arm since 1945.
'Aircraft Carriers of the World, 1914 to the Present - An Illustrated Encyclopedia' by Roger Chesneau (1992, Arms and Armour Press)
'De Havilland Twin-Boom Fighters' by Barry Jones (2004, The Crowood Press). A 192 page hardback book detailing the development and service life of the De Havilland Vampire, Venom and Sea Vixen. Features a large number of good black and white photographs (plus and excellent cover shot of two 766 Squadron Sa Vixen FAW1s!).
'Up In Harm's Way - Flying With The Fleet Air Arm' by Commander R.M. 'Mike' Crosley DSC*, RN. (2005, Pen and Sword Aviation). This book covers the author's flying career from the finish of World War II until his final appointment as CO of the Naval Test Squadron at Boscombe Down in 1963. Having had an outstanding wartime record 'Mike' Crosley became heavily involved with the introduction of Britain's first carrier-borne jet aircraft. The book explains how modern techniques, such as the angled flight deck, steam catapult and deck landing mirror sights were developed and tested. At Boscombe Down he developed the 'hand's-off' launch technique for the Buccaneer which saved it from probable cancellation at a very difficult time for British Naval aviation. A very thorough book which also includes some excellent analysis of the many contentious 'political' decisions that have affected the Fleet Air Arm in recent decades.
'The Aircraft Carrier Victorious' by Ross Watton (2004, Conway Maritime). An excellent detailed book providing many drawings, plans and photographs as well as a full history of HMS Victorious from World War II to her premature withdrawal in 1967.
As mentioned on my introduction page, there is a paucity of publicly available videos and DVDs of archive film footage relating to the Fleet Air Arm during the 1960s. However, thankfully the company Simply Home Entertainment has produced a number of excellent DVDs which are well worth the investment:
The Royal Navy - At War and Peace, 1960-1966. From a series of Royal
Navy DVDs featuring rare archive footage from the post war period this DVD
features three films from the period 1960 to 1966. The first - 'Launch and
Recovery' - is an instructional film showing Sea Vixens, Scimitars and Gannets
being launched and recovered from the deck of an aircraft carrier. The
workings of the carrier's steam catapult and arrester gear systems are also
covered in fascinating detail. (Colour). The third film - 'Late Call' -
was filmed in the Far East during 1964/65 and was based on the exercise 'Dark
Night'. It shows how a Royal Navy Task Force would be deployed to assist
with international emergencies. The aircraft carrier HMS Victorious with
its Buccaneers and Sea Vixens features as do 845 Squadron Wessex helicopters
operating off the commando carrier HMS Bulwark. Other ships featured include the
carrier HMS Eagle, guided missile destroyer HMS Kent and the frigate HMS Zest.
The excellent 'Jets of the Fleet Air Arm' DVD includes some fine rare archive footage of nine types of jet aircraft that served in the Fleet Air Arm, including the Buccaneer, Sea Vixen and Sea Hawk. Also, a number of former pilots, including Captain Keith Leppard CBE RN, my father's 'Wings' on HMS Victorious, share their recollections of the aircraft they flew. Highly recommended.
Ark Royal - The Complete History traces the full history of all five ships which have borne the famous name HMS Ark Royal. With dramatic film footage and interviews with crews past and present, this DVD gives a fascinating look at life aboard the famous aircraft carriers - the pride of the British fleet.
Page last updated: 27th December 2010
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