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Johnnie Johnson's 1942 Diary (Hardback)

The War Diary of the Spitfire Ace of Aces

WWII Aviation Aviation in WWII Spitfires & Hurricanes Luftwaffe Royal Air Force

By Dilip Sarkar MBE
Imprint: Air World
Pages: 248
Illustrations: 20 black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781526791702
Published: 26th November 2020

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Air Vice-Marshal ‘Johnnie’ Johnson was a character literally from the pages of Boys’ Own: an individual who became the RAF’s top-scoring fighter pilot and wing leader par excellence of the Second World War. A one-time household name synonymous with the superlative Spitfire, Johnnie’s aerial combat successes inspired schoolboys for generations.

As a ‘lowly Pilot Officer’, Johnnie Johnson learned his fighter pilot’s craft as a protégé of the legless Tangmere Wing Leader, Douglas Bader. After Bader was brought down over France and captured on 9 August 1941, Johnnie remained a member of 616 (South Yorkshire) Squadron.

By the beginning of 1942, when Johnnie's diary begins, Fighter Command was pursuing an offensive policy during daylight hours, ‘reaching out’ and taking the war to the Germans in France. It was also a period in which the Focke-Wulf Fw outclassed the Spitfire Mk.V. In Johnnie’s words, the Fw 190 ‘drove us back to the coast and, for the first time, pilots lost confidence in the Spitfire’. As well as his participation in Rhubarb and Circus sorties, Johnnie was also involved in Operation Jubilee on 19 August 1942.

In this diary, published here for the first time, we get a glimpse of the real Johnnie, and what it was really like to live and breathe air-fighting during one of the European air war’s most interesting years: 1942. Presented on a day-by-day basis, each of Johnnie’s entries is supported by an informative narrative written by the renowned aviation historian Dilip Sarkar, drawing upon official documents and his interviews and correspondence with the great man.

As would be expected, Johnnie’s diary also includes numerous personal references. This diary, therefore, is a unique insight into how fighter pilots lived, loved – and died.

Article: Spitfire ace’s heroism and skills in the sky - words by Mike Pryce

Worcester News, 30th December 2020

Article: ‘A glimpse into the life of a fighter ace’ as featured by

Loughborough Echo, 30th December 2020

About Dilip Sarkar MBE

Driven by his passion to research and share the stories of casualties and record the human experience of war, DILIP SARKAR is a best-selling author whose work is highly regarded globally. A noted expert on the Battle of Britain period, who enjoyed a long and very personal relationship with the Few, Dilip was made an MBE in 2003 for ‘services to aviation history’, and, in 2006, elected to the Fellowship of the Royal Historical Society. He is a sought-after, dynamic speaker whose enthusiasm is infectious, presenting at many prestigious venues, including the Imperial War Museum Duxford, RAF Museums Hendon and Cosford, National Memorial Arboretum, Oxford University, Bentley Priory Museum and Airborne Museum, Oosterbeek. Dilip’s work has been exhibited internationally and he continues to work on TV documentaries, on and off camera. 

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