The author has conscientious collected in this book all weapon facts from the 14th squadron of the RAF in the 1945-2015 period. Who else can do this better than Michael Napier, who himself has served a long time at this squadron and has written a beautiful book about that time (Tornado above Tigris). This book however is very different. From the founding of the squadron in 1915 till present time, the Blue Diamonds, as the squadron is called, have registered a lot of weapon facts on their behalf, but the author has limited himself till the period of after WWII.
He has meticulously described all exercises, actions, war actions, disasters and organisational business, in chronological order, with the names and background of the involved persons and completed with often humoristic commentary.
Remarkable is that the Blue Diamonds in this period with the introduction of new airplane types, also got more and more new tasks assigned. Each new type of airplane automatically meant different operational goals and that varied from air defence tasks (the Vampire and the Hunter) to tactical bombardment orders (the Canberra, Phantom and Tornado). The largest part of this period (90 pages) is dedicated to the deploy of the Tornado. This is no surprise since Napier also served as Tornado pilot in that period.
Especially the period of the Cold War is interestingly described. The many exercises in that period, by which strikingly large amounts of airplanes were deployed (we are talking about more than 1.500 planes sometimes) and mass dog fights – in which about 50 planes could be involved – plus the usual incidents and accidents.
Also the deploy of the Blue Diamonds abroad, covers an important part of the book. Beautiful is the part about the yearly formation flight on the birthday from the Queen of Great Britain. In almost every book that I read about the RAF, the formation flight on this day comes round and each time I read how problematic and complex this was. Luckily, nothing has every happened due to the experience of the crews.
What really hit me is the great transfer of tasks and planes from the 14tht squadron in the described period and the relatively short term in which the different air plane types were deployed, throughout the years. The author has done an awful lot of research in order to register these events in such detail. Well Done!
It is a beautiful bound book, very well organised, 320 pages with very many pictures, cards and drawings of the used air plane types. Plus in the back an appendix with background of the mentioned crew members and the air planes that were deployed in this period. This book is a historical document, especially recommended for everyone who has served in this period at the 14tht squadron, but also for other interested people. It gives, in particular, also a good insight in the day to day operations at squadron level throughout the years, especially in the period of the Cold War and the wars in the Balkan, Afghanistan and Iraq.