THE ODDS AGAINST US by Peter Townsend


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An autobiographical account of flying night-fighters during the Battle of Britain. Townsend, a Wing Commander for the RAF, personally flew mission after mission over the dark, cold skies of London. This is his eighth book--most of the others deal in some way or another with WW II, too. London, as Churchill described it, was like a fat cow, tethered and awaiting the slaughter. And when the Germans came to cut it up by air, Townsend was one of those called upon for the dangerous mission of engaging their bombers. The problem was that, up until that time, most aircraft had the capacity only for day-fighting. The rub was that the Germans bombed by night. So Townsend and his fellows had to fly ""exploring the terrors of the night."" The instruments were only suitable for day flying. There was no radar for tracking the enemy planes. ""The pilot"" had to fly in close enough to the ""hostile"" in order to discern, with his own eyes, its dark indefinite shape."" The antiaircraft searchlights were blinding to their compatroit's night vision. And, by night, the large tails of fire that the day-fighters trailed innocuously by day became a frightening spectacle to the pilots, as well as providing enemy fighters with highly visible targets. All in all, not a very happy circumstance for employment. And Townsend brings the reader right into the cockpit to experience these dangers. More than once, his plane hit by an enemy gun, Townsend simply had to climb out of his own open cockpit and jump overboard to safety below, German fighters buzzing around his falling parachute. The Odds Against Us tells the tale of adventure, not necessarily of success. On their best day (or night, actually), the fighers only knocked out eight of 500 German fighters, far below the average for day-fighters. An exciting tale, though, sure to appeal to all dyed-in-the-wool WW II buffs.

Pub Date: March 19th, 1987
Publisher: Morrow