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from the cockpit No.9



Graeme Rowan-Thomspon


Ad Hoc Publishing


S u m m a r y

Title and Author Attacker
from the cockpit No.9
by Graeme Rowan-Thomspon
Ad Hoc Publishing
ISBN: 0-946958-67-2
Media: Soft, glossy, laminated card, colour covers; A4 portrait format on 116 semi-gloss pages (4 in colour).  Includes 16 colour artworks and 171 photographs.
Price: GBP17.95 net
Review Type: First Read
Advantages: Informative and entertaining accounts from experienced and knowledgeable pilots, on a much-underrated aircraft.  Excellent range of previously unpublished photographs as well as useful colour profiles.
Disadvantages: As with the Firebrand volume which was published at the same time as this one, there are no insights from aircraft maintainers or deck crews this time around.
Recommendation: Highly Recommended


Reviewed by Steve Naylor

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Until almost exactly a year ago, decent books on the Supermarine Attacker were pretty much non-existent.  So somewhat optimistically perhaps, you wait and wait and then, just like buses, two turn up within a (relatively) short time of each other.  We'll return to the 'other' book later, whilst we first concentrate on the subject of this review, namely Adhoc Publications' latest offering, ‘Attacker -  From the Cockpit No.9’ by Graeme Rowan-Thomson.  Hugely experienced as a naval jet fighter pilot, the author flew Attackers with both 890 and 800 squadrons and was an Attacker aerobatic team member whilst at RNAS Ford in Sussex (UK).  Continuing the, now well established, 'From the Cockpit' style, the author and several similarly experienced pilots of the time from the Royal Navy, United States Navy (whilst on 'exchange') and Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve, give excellent accounts of their experience with the type.  These testimonies give the reader an excellent insight into the trials and tribulations of operating the Royal Navy's first jet fighter and it was particularly interesting to read the views of Captain A. W. ('Hap') Chandler USN of his time with the Attacker, since he was also able to compare it with his previous experience of the Grumman Panther F9F-2.

So the text is good, nay excellent, but what about the photographs?  Well its rapidly becoming a cliché, but once again, the images (all black and white) are the highlight of this book.  Where do they get these pictures from, one wonders?  Well as before, many are from private collections and, as in other titles in this series, previously unpublished.  The quality of these images is superb and it is often hard to believe that they were taken nearly sixty years ago.  Plenty to interest everyone therefore, modelers especially.  Also in keeping with the 'From the Cockpit' style, there are the usual colour artwork profiles by Roger Chesneau (16 in total, over four pages) covering various service aircraft and variants, including a two-page, 4-view, spread of Attacker F. Mk I 'WA492', as flow by the author with 890 Squadron at RNAS Ford in Sussex (UK), in July 1952.





Being the first can be an advantage and a disadvantage.  Supermarine's Attacker was the first jet fighter operated by the Royal Navy and so goes down in history with that honour, though equally, it has also been pretty much forgotten.  Replaced by the Sea Hawk, and overshadowed by that aircraft and subsequent ones, the Attacker has perhaps unfairly been dubbed a failure.  To think that however, would be a mistake, one which this new book does much to correct.  Whilst a compromise and a testbed in many ways (some even suggested it was just a means of testing the Nene engine!), the Attacker helped shape the new operating procedures and equipment that would be required in the new jet era.  Without the Attacker and the experience it brought and the lessons it taught, progress in Royal Navy jet aviation would have been much more protracted and subsequent aircraft would not have been able to be operated at their true potential.

Another excellent title in this expanding series and well worth any FAA enthusiast's hard-earned cash.  What about that 'other' Attacker book, which I reviewed here some 12 months or so ago, and alluded to at the beginning?  Well, in many ways they compliment each other as they have different styles and agendas, so comparisons are a futile exercise.  From a purely photographic point of view however, there is hardly any overlap, so I'm sorry, I'm afraid you will all just have to buy both of them!

Highly Recommended.

Thanks go to Ad Hoc Publications for the review copy.

Copies should be available to order from most good book outlets, but can also be ordered direct from;

Ad Hoc Publications
Wattisham Road
Suffolk IP14 2HX

Tel: 07776 134277 Email: adhocpub@aol.com


Review Copyright 2008 by Steve Naylor
This Page Created on 11 April, 2008
Last updated 11 April, 2008

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