The most iconic aircraft of WW2 and beyond, through the eyes of author Jonathan Falconer

Aircraft wrecks, Interviews, WW2

By Pierre Kosmidis

Photos submitted by Jonathan Falconer and used by permission

The aerial warfare is a vast chapter that still attracts interest, over 7 decades after the end of WW2. Thousands of aircraft of all types roamed the skies and their legacy still lives to this day, as aviation enthusiasts and historians look out for new evidence, for details that help us understand the larger picture of war over Europe and all across the globe.

www.ww2wrecks.com has reached out to acclaimed author and researcher Mr. Jonathan Falconer, who sheds light on the painstaking research process of gathering facts and figures for a book and unraveling the mysteries behind the creation of some of the most iconic aircraft ever to have appeared in the skies.

You are an acclaimed author with a dozen books under your belt. What is your focus and why do you believe there is such an interest from readers all across the world?

Handley Page Halifax Manual_1

 

My first book was published in 1990 and to date I’ve written and had published more than 35 titles. My main interest is in RAF history of the Second World War, but I am also fascinated by aviation, military and maritime history generally.

 

Handley Page Halifax Manual_2

 

I have also written several local history books, in particular two that tell the story of my home town of Bath in WW2 and of its experience when it was bombed in April 1942 in the Luftwaffe ‘Baedeker Blitz’; and two more books that tell the stories behind the names on the war memorial in my adopted town of Bradford-on-Avon.

 

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What are you currently working on? What will the subject of your new book be?

Aerial reconnaissance photograph taken during a daylight raid by 872 aircraft on German defensive positions around Calais, France, on 25 September 1944. Three Handley Page Halifaxes, photographed from an Avro Lancaster, can be seen over the target area, a coastal battery, which is obscured by low cloud. The scattered candles of a Target Indicator can be seen smoking on the beach, which is itself covered in landing obstacles.
Aerial reconnaissance photograph taken during a daylight raid by 872 aircraft on German defensive positions around Calais, France, on 25 September 1944. Three Handley Page Halifaxes, photographed from an Avro Lancaster, can be seen over the target area, a coastal battery, which is obscured by low cloud. The scattered candles of a Target Indicator can be seen smoking on the beach, which is itself covered in landing obstacles.

My next book is called the RAF Bomber Command Operations Manual 1939-45, which looks at how the wartime Command was organised and how it operated – everything from the chain of command, aircrew training, aircraft, weapons, technology and tactics, to airfield construction, finding out what happened to those crews who failed to return, the salvage and repair of battle damaged aircraft, and operational research – the number crunching and data analysis that went on behind the scenes to help Harris and his staff with raid analysis and planning.

This book will be published in August 2018 by Haynes.

 

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How do you feel when you finally see it on the bookshelves?

 

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The overriding feelings upon finishing a new book project and handing it to the publisher are ones of relief and a huge weight relieved. I always find that in the run-up to completion a project often refuses to ‘lie down’ to allow the last loose ends to be tied up.

 

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There’s always some little niggle that needs addressing, or a late detail to be added. In a way I suppose you could say it’s a birthing process that can often be painful and prolonged!

 

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That said, the feeling of seeing a pile of manuscript paper and a folder full of photos eventually turned into a book that people can read and enjoy, never ceases to thrill and it gives me a sense of pride and achievement.

 

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I love the process of creating something from nothing, turning the germ of an idea into a fully formed book!

 

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What is so intriguing about WW2? Do you see a renewed interest or indeed interest has never really faded out?

 

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It’s the sheer global scale of the conflict. Few corners of the world were untouched by it.

 

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Also, I never cease to be amazed, and often humbled, by the thousands of ordinary men and women who answered the call of duty and became caught up in extraordinary events.

 

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They rose to the challenge and we still owe them an immense debt of gratitude, even after 70 odd years.

 

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A truly special and inspirational generation of people.

 

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I don’t think the interest has ever really gone away in WW2, although I detect nowadays that there’s less interest in it among the up and coming younger generations than there was with my own. This could be down to the fact that the parents of most kids today haven’t got any direct link with the war through their parents.

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My father was a boy in WW2 and experienced German bombing and strafing at first hand; my grandfather served in the RAF in WW2 as did great uncles and second cousins in the Royal Navy and the Air Force.

 

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Conversation around the dinner table often turned to the war and what they did, where they went and the people they served with.

 

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I perceive a growing interest in the history of the Cold War, particularly in its hardware, which I think could begin to rival interest in WW2 fairly soon.

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