Mark JohnsonUnited States
CaliforniaThat's a Palm Pilot on the left, and a pink iPod mini on the right. Yes, I've been doing BGTG that long!http://www.WargamesToGo.com
Mark Johnson's irregular podcast about small wargames
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As much as I've enjoyed diving in deeply to the Battle of Britain as a topic--and I certainly have--I need to wrap it up and move on. This episode closes the series out with a bang, featuring two great interviews and my final thoughts about some games & films. Lee Brimmicombe-Wood is probably the top wargame designer today who focuses on air combat games, and you'd better believe he's thought about the Battle of Britain. We talk about his Burning Blue, Wing Leader, and historical analysis of the battle itself.
Later I talk with James Crate, a listener who helpfully contacted me after my first episode in this Battle of Britain series. James is widely read on the topic, and has many book suggestions for us. Much of his career has been as a Naval Flight Officer, operating weapon systems in the back seat of F/A-18 or other aircraft. He brings a special perspective to wargaming air combat. You may be surprised to hear about his favorite title to play.
In addition to these two features, I talk about two final films and four more games (actually six more, if you include the two above that are mentioned in the interviews--if you listen you can hear me looking up Bag The Hun after James suggests it!). I think that's the right number. In truth, this process has taken so long that I'm kind of losing track. For the next episode, I'm going to be trying something different. As long as I'm living in France, I have the opportunity to visit fantastic sites for military history. It's only natural for me to want to explore them in wargames, and talk about that exploration on the podcast. But at my usual pace, I'd get to only one or two more topics during my next nine months over here. That's not enough! Topics like D-Day and Bulge are ones I definitely COULD dive into this deeply again, but for the next several months I'm going to try to aim for more breadth, less depth. A few weeks ago I visited the beach (and museum) at Dunkirk, and that's a great example for next time. I've got two films, one book, and three games on that topic. Manageable, right? We'll see...
• Angles One Five
• First Light
Books (special thanks to James Crate for these detailed recommendations)
• Battle of Britain: A Day-by-day Chronicle, 10 July - 31 October 1940 by Patrick Bishop – As it says, gives a half page to a few pages on each day depending on activity. But there are numerous sidebars and asides that cover everything from personalities to tactics to underreported events. There is also a fair helping of brief first person accounts and after action reports of the day described. Fun to read one day at a time starting in July to “follow along” with the Battle. Get it in hard back (nicely illustrated in color).
• The Most Dangerous Enemy: A History of the Battle of Britain by Stephen Bungay – Comprehensive, opinionated, well researched. If you read the notes, a great deal of the air combat analysis comes from the works of author Mike Spick whose books on air combat tactics are all recommended.
• How the Spitfire Won the Battle of Britain by Dilip Sarkar – The author has an excellent understanding of the Spitfire and her pilots. A great deal of technical and tactical detail including a discussion of Luftwaffe bomber tactics which is under covered in other works. Challenges many assumptions about the share of the workload between the Hurricane and Spitfire. Highly recommended and available on Kindle. Beyond the Battle of Britain, all of Mr. Sarkar’s books on the Spitfire and its pilots are highly recommended.
• Invasion, 1940: The Truth About the Battle of Britain and What Stopped Hitler by Derek Robinson - Challenges a lot of the assumptions about the invasion threat in 1940. There is a wide range of opinion on this book from revisionist cash grab to insightful reappraisal. If nothing else he is asking good questions and forcing the reader to reconsider or defend previously held beliefs. Available on Kindle and recommended.
• Luftwaffe Fighters and Bombers: The Battle of Britain by Chris Goss – First-hand accounts by numerous Luftwaffe fighter and bomber pilots. A lot of detail from “the other side” not available anywhere else.
• Spitfire on my Tail by Ulrich Steinhilper – Ulrich describes his missions as a fighter pilot before and during the Battle until being shot down and captured over England in October 1940. Great insight into the inner workings and organization of a Luftwaffe 109 squadron during 1940.
For first person accounts and flat out entertaining reading James recommends all of the following available on Kindle:
- Fighter Pilot by Paul Richey
- Fighter Boys: The Battle of Britain, 1940 by Patrick Bishop
- Arise To Conquer by Wing Commander Ian Gleed DSO DFC
- Ten Fighter Boys by W/C Athol & S/L Hubert
- Gun Button To Fire by Tom Neil
- First Light: The True Story of the Boy Who Became a Man in the War-Torn Skies above Britain by Geoffrey Wellum
Remember to follow along & chime in on my discussion thread (and geeklist) for all of my Battle of Britain thoughts & explorations. If you're a wargamer on social media, follow me on Twitter (@WargamesToGo). Feedback is always welcome.