A Decisive Dual

A Decisive Dual

Spitfire vs 109

By author David Isby

Review by Joseph J. Gleason

 Decisive Dual Book Cover

A Decisive Dual

Spitfire vs 109

By author David Isby

          This extremely well documented historical accounting of the impact of war on the development of the art of aerial combat is mandatory reading if you also have an interest in exploring the personality traits of the aircraft designers, pilots, military officers and politicians who influenced the purpose, timing, financing, and staged the course of competition for air superiority. The events take place beginning in Spain then Europe and Africa from 1933-1945 and lasting through the Cold War Era of the 60’s. 

            David Isby does a masterful job of bringing the reader into the life and times of the men whose outlook on life evolved from peaceful childhood dreams to stark reality in the fog of war.

He not only places you in the cockpit of both the Spitfire and the 109 and takes you through the maneuvers in the dogfights so that you understand the strengths and weaknesses of these aircraft but he also sets the stage with complications including fuel and parts production shortages, repair scheduling, manufacturing plant destruction, relocation, reconstruction , and inclement weather. 

            This study of the early stages of aerial combat between the Spitfire and the 109 also gives credit to the development, placement and performance of radar stations and the role of bombers while comparing and contrasting aerial surveillance and tactical fighter support strategies.    

            Isby repeatedly puts you directly in the line of enemy fire and in the presence of the key decision makers on both sides at every juncture where critical improvements were made in direct response to daily battle conditions. Every confrontation between the Spitfire and the Messerschmitt 109 is colored with emotions tempered with nerves of steel. You feel the tension as you notice the enemy approaching in your rear view mirror. You experience the struggle to maintain consciousness while pulling excessive g-forces at altitudes that cause your machine guns to freeze up. Critical design advantages include faster climb and recovery rate, radio communications, armor plating, puncture resistant fuel tanks, a tighter turning radius, higher maximum ceiling, longer range, and proximity to repair, refueling and friendly landings. 

            As PIC you are presented with carburetors choking on sand, a critical loss of vital horsepower caused by congested air filters, landing gear failures, canopy clouding, radio malfunctions, and much more. Each aircraft has inherent advantages and disadvantages. 

            As designer you face the struggle to make timely adjustments in production schedules while fending off competitive bidders, implementing immediate improvements that determine the fate of millions of your allies and fellow countrymen.   

            As a devoted and desperate minimal air time new recruit you realize the only way you will survive is to turn to the dwindling number of experienced pilots for guidance on everything your instructor did not have the time to present to you, such as deflection shooting, spin recovery techniques and stall avoidance, situational awareness, fuel conservation, relational navigation and formation flying. Periodic mechanical modifications to each aircraft require the competition to discover their respective weaknesses in deadly combat. You fly the first Spitfire deliveries off the air craft carrier Wasp into Malta without knowing whether the plane will perform properly.    

            Secretly developed strategic advantages and the struggles to obtain real time information on battlefield conditions make this so much more than a mere comparison of the mechanical differences between the Spitfire and the 109 that I recommend it to a much wider audience.      

            In fact, I have already recommended it to several friends, some of whom are pilots, some of whom are avid history buffs and some who just enjoy thrilling factual accounts of people and places with which they are familiar. I look forward to reading more accounts by David Isby.

Review by Joseph J. Gleason
JRHaferAviationBlog.com
Publishers Note: Joseph J. Gleason is an Attorney. Contact 863-667-1043
Counsel@gleason.net

2 Responses to A Decisive Dual

  1. Good review gives me the idea that this book would appeal to a wider non aviation audience perhaps? Glad to know this British Bloke has a instructive way of writing too. Thanks for the review Joe. Good job… 🙂

    • Joseph J. Gleason says:

      JR, This is a perfect read for the student of military history. It lays down all the details that should be taught in a formal education on the subject.

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