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Spitfire! (Hardback)

The Full Story of a Unique Battle of Britain Fighter Squadron

WWII Aviation Battle of Britain Aviation in WWII Spitfires & Hurricanes Luftwaffe Royal Air Force

By Dilip Sarkar MBE
Imprint: Air World
Pages: 484
ISBN: 9781526732811
Published: 19th June 2019


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As a child, Dilip Sarkar was fascinated by the haunting image of an anonymous RAF Spitfire pilot. Taken minutes after landing from a Battle of Britain combat, this was Squadron Leader Brian Lane DFC, the commander of 19 Squadron, based at Fowlmere – and author of the stirring first-hand account Spitfire! The Experiences of a Fighter Pilot, published under the pseudonym B.J. Ellan. Deeply moving was the discovery that in 1942 Brian was reported missing after a futile nuisance raid over the Dutch coast.

During the mid-1980s, Dilip began researching the life and times of both Brian Lane and 19 Squadron, forging close friendships with many of the unit’s surviving Battle of Britain pilots and support staff. This enabled identification of the wartime censor’s blanks regarding people and places in Brian’s book, and the publication in 1990 of Dilip’s first ever book, Spitfire Squadron: 19 Squadron at War 1939-41.

Nearly thirty years later, sadly all of the survivors are now deceased, but Dilip’s close relationship has provided a huge archive of correspondence and interviews in addition to a unique photographic collection. Furthermore, the author, a retired police detective, has thoroughly investigated the life – and death – of Squadron Leader Lane.

This completely new book, Spitfire!, covers everything we would ever need to know about such a unit during the critical pre and early war period: the social, political, aviation and military history all in one volume – emphasising the human experience involved and the stories of casualties. With an immense photographic collection – many published here for the first time – this book is destined to become a classic.

So, strap yourself in, turn gun button to ‘fire’, and join 19 Squadron’s Spitfire pilots during our Darkest and Finest Hours … the ultimate ‘Band of Brothers’?

Promotion for author Kent BoB event as featured by

Isle of Thanet Gazette (9th & 16th August 2019)/Dover Express (8th & 15th August 2019)

Dilip Sarkar comes across a kind man who enjoys an enduring affection and connection with the men and women of Fighter Command.

His book is a fine monument to No19 Squadron – it’s pilots, technicians and administrators. The reality is however many Battle of Britain books that come along in the year ahead, some, like this one will stand out. Highly recommended.

Review by Mark Barnes for War History Online

Publicity for author's Bentley Priory Museum event as featured by

Optima, 22nd June 2019

As featured in

RAF News 23/8/19

Featured in

RAF News, August 2019

Dilip Sarkar now turns his atttention to the Spitfire, Britain's most iconic warplane, and the one that most commentators believe was most intrumental in helping Britain to achieve air superiority during the Battle of Britain. Superbly told.

Books Monthly

"This is an admirable book with high production values with the author getting into the spirit and culture of the squadron and the RAF at this crucial time."

Reviewed by

Robert Bartlett

'Renowned historian to launch new book at museum'

My Radlett & Shenley News, July 2019

Featured "On The Bookshelf" by Neil Smith for

Wargames Illustrated, June 2019

Life among The Few: Rare photos show the gaunt faces and bullet-holed Spitfires of the heroic RAF Battle of Britain pilots who saw off Hitler's Luftwaffe

Mail Online

Researched over many years with the full co-operation of 19 Squadron's surviving pilots, support staff and the relatives of casualties, this 'highly detailed but readable' book covers the aviation, military, social and political aspects of the famous unit.

The Bookseller 8/3/19

About Dilip Sarkar MBE

A prolific author, DILIP SARKAR has been obsessed with the Second World War for a lifetime. An MBE for ‘services to aviation history’, and Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, unsurprisingly, for a retired police detective with a First in Modern History, his work has always been evidence-based - often challenging long-accepted myths. Firmly focussed on the ‘human’ experience of war, his many previous works include the authorised biographies of Group Captain Sir Douglas Bader and Air Vice-Marshal ‘Johnnie’ Johnson, the best-selling Spitfire Manual and The Few. Dilip has presented at such prestigious venues as Oxford University, the Imperial War and RAF Museums, and National Memorial Arboretum; he works on TV documentaries, both on and off screen.

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