fredag 27. januar 2012

Leo McKinstry: Lancaster (Kindle edition)

Having previously read Leo McKinstry's book "Hurricane" and found it quite enjoyable, it was a small risk to purchase this book. Leo McKinstry writes very well in a flowing, colloquial manner that makes his books very easy reads. His research and presentation is exhaustive, and I have never found reason to question his sources or use of them.

The book covers, as the cover says, the story of the Lancaster - from the reasoning behind its design, the development process and personality of its chief designer, its service and its post-war use. A lot of anecdotes and technical details round out the picture, and a lot of space is devoted to the strategic night bombing of Germany and occupied Europe. Separate sections are devoted to numerous special assignments, including the very well known Dambuster raids.

If there is anything detracting from the book, it is the systematic trashing of the other heavy bombers used by the British. Although the Halifax and Stirling were demonstrably inferior machines - dropping far less tonnage and loosing far more lives per machine - McKinstry appears to have adopted "Bomber" Harris' vehement hatred for these aircraft, giving a distinctly subjective streak to a book that otherwise appears to be very balanced and objective.

This aside, I considered the book a very good read, excellent both in detail and scope. It gives a good understanding of the background, reasoning, logistics, technology, strategy and people involved in the British air war over Europe.

From a gamer perspective, there is not much to find here unless one has an interest in making night-fighting scenarios, in which case there is a lot! A forumite asked me whether I would game the Dambusters, though I found that there was virtually no air-to-air combat during this raid - all the downed aircraft were shot down by anti-aircraft artillery.

In summary, a very thorough book covering all aspects of the Lancaster history. With the exception of the hostility for the Halifax and Stirling, there is very little to detract from this impressive volume. Though it bears little relevance to most of the popular periods and modes of air combat gaming, I would still reccommend this to anyone fancying a good read. All in all I give it a score of 5 out of 6.

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