Review: RAF Top Gun
- Published: 30 April 2010 30 April 2010
- Last Updated: 12 July 2013 12 July 2013
This biography of Air Commodore E.M. Donaldson CB CBE DSO AFC and Bar LoM [USA] is a great addition to the life stories of those airmen who fought through the Battle of Britain and became known as "The Few".
This particular account benefits from the close co-operation of the Donaldson family with the author.His quite fascinating career makes very interesting reading and it becomes understandable how Donaldson became one of the heroes of his time.
From the local flying circus trips he took as a boy to the 104 Starfighter flight at Mach 2 and everything in between, including dicing with the Me109s in a Hurricane. Donaldson flew many aircraft types from his time pre war in the RAF flying the biplanes of the time, he was even attached to a Bomber Squadron for a time. Conversion to monoplanes in 1938 with his Squadron flying Hurricanes, he also flew in in the jet fighter, the Meteor and even the USAF Starfighter after the war.
This title goes through his life story in some detail, the high and low points of his career, his time with the RAF aerobatics team pre war, his exploits in France supporting the BEF in the air. He later transferred to train gunnery with the RAF and as a senior post attached to the USAF.
He continued in the RAF postwar and not just flying a desk, he was responsible for the World Air Speed record being taken by specially modified Gloster Meteor aircraft with the RAF High Speed flight, one of 3 pilots who would attempt the record, he became the title holder with the highest speed run in what was a very risky attempt.
It is an extremly readable story and all this information is imparted to the reader by an author clearly extremly interested in his subject. There are also several side anecdotes about his contemporaries and their careers, how they affected him or the other way around! There are several stories of his lively discussions with senior officials and some of his practical jokes.
Amongst those written about in the book are his 3 brothers, all flyers in the RAF - he was one of 3 siblings all awarded the Distinguished Service Order, which may be some kind of a record. Also mentioned and included in the photo section is Donaldsons cousin, another famous flyer, Douglas Bader, this is certainly a book for fans of the RAF and the exploits of those daring pilots of that time.
After the war Donaldson became a senior staff officer in the RAF and there is some detail on the post war development of the RAF as seen by him. Not just office bound he was sent as senior RAF officer to the Aden crisis and also flew during that campaign, including a lively flight over a beseiged town to give a war correspondant a view of what the RAF was doing!
All together an interesting and worthwhile read.
(Reviewed by Matt Gibbs)
Thanks to the publisher for the review copy.