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Johnnie Johnson's 1942 Diary (Hardback)

The War Diary of the Spitfire Ace of Aces

Aviation > Aircraft > Spitfires & Hurricanes Aviation > Royal Air Force Aviation > WWII > Luftwaffe WWII

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.

As featured by

Scramble 1940 - Official Newsletter of the Battle of Britain Historical Society

In a generation of outstanding RAF fighter pilots, Johnnie Johnson was the top scoring Ace who survived the Battle of Britain and the fight for air supremacy, to stay on in the post-war RAF, to reach the rank of Air Vice Marshal. This book is based on his war diary of 1942 and provides a number of insights into life in the RAF Fighter Command of that period. – Most Highly Recommended

Read the full review here

Firetrench

I really enjoy books written using the words of the person the book is about and I really enjoyed this aspect of the book due to how it puts you in touch with the person and his humanity. This is a very enjoyable read.

Read the full review here

Aeroscale

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
 Dilip Sarkar MBE

About Dilip Sarkar MBE

Dilip Sarkar has now written over sixty well-received books. Having enjoyed a privileged relationship with many of The Few, he is a globally acknowledged expert on the Battle of Britain, currently working on a career-topping eight volume official history for The Battle of Britain Memorial Trust and National Memorial to The Few. Described by the late Dr Gordon Mitchell, son of the Spitfire’s designer RJ Mitchell, as an ‘aviation detective’, Dilip Sarkar did actually begin his professional life as just that – a police detective. His evidence-based approach and ability to discover new material is well-known – in 2023, for example, he was responsible for having Air Chief-Marshal Sir Keith Park, a New Zealander, officially recognised as one of The Few. Made an MBE for ‘services to aviation history’ in 2003, Dilip was elected to the Fellowship of the Royal Historical Society in 2006, achieved First Class Honours in Modern History as a mature student in 2010, and in 2024 was made both a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society and member of London’s Royal Air Force Club. During his long career, Dilip has exhibited and spoken internationally at such prestigious venues as Oxford University, the RAF Museum, IWM Museum, and Airborne Museum, Oosterbeek; he has worked on many TV documentaries, on and off screen, again internationally, and has an engaging presence on YouTube and Facebook in particular.

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