"SKUA! The Royal Navy's Dive-Bomber" by Peter C Smith

Discussion in 'Non-fiction' started by vikingBerserker, Aug 3, 2012.

  1. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    #1 vikingBerserker, Aug 3, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2012
    SKUA! The Royal Navy’s Dive-Bomber
    By Peter C Smith
    Pen sword Books Ltd – 2006
    ISBN 1-84415-455-6

    Skua book.jpg

    There are a few WW2 planes that I feel were not viewed kindly by Aviation Aficionados. Some that come to my mind are the Brewster Buffalo and the the Douglas Devastator.

    I will be honest before reading this book I knew very little about the Skua beyond the few pages I’d ever read about it. I had just finished reading Fledgling Eagles by Christopher Shores where the plane was used during the Norwegian Campaign. With the Carrier GB coming up I decided to read up a little more about this plane and came across this book. I now add this plane to the likes of the Buffalo and Devastator – an unsung hero.

    The book is 271 pages long and is divided into 14 Chapters, 5 Appendix’s, and 74 pictures (including 6 sequence shots of the sinking of the Konigsberg) and several wonderful detailed line drawings. The author Peter C Smith is actually assisting with the restoration of the Skua recovered from Norway.

    It covers from the inception of the aircraft, to the misuse by the RAF (I never knew they were in charge of the FAA for awhile) to combat, to the final use as trainer/target tugs. The aircraft was originally designed as a dive-bomber but had a secondary role as a fighter.

    There are a number of really interesting stories about them:

    The SS Fanad Head Incident (page 68 ): One of the first times the aircraft is used in combat, 3 Skuas of the 803 Squadron from the HMS Ark Royal are dispatched to investigate a SOS from the SS Fanad Head being pursued by a U-Boat (U-30). Seeing the U-30 the first Skua attacks and drops a 112lb A/S bomb. However the bombs had been improperly fitted with a too short of a fuse and explode right below the aircraft destroying it. The 2nd goes in and this time the A/S does not explode at all. The 3rd goes in and is destroyed in the exact same way as the first one. Not a great start in combat, but not the fault of the aircraft.

    The second Incident of note was the attack an attack on the docked Scharnhorst. Chapter 9 “Lambs to the Slaughter” under the heading “The Charge of the Light Brigade”. It ends the same way but I will say the pilots were a brave lot. It was a disaster due to planning not the aircraft.

    Overall the Skua really was not that bad and had a number of successes as a dive-bomber (sinking the Koningsberg) and as a fighter. A few interesting things about the plane is it had a spin-parachute in the tail and one was flown by none other the Sir Laurence Olivier (the actor) in 757 Squadron.

    This was a very interesting book on a little known (and often little liked) aircraft. A solid 9 rounds.
     
  2. Aaron Brooks Wolters

    Aaron Brooks Wolters Well-Known Member

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    Thank you for the review David. I know absolutely nothing about the Skua, but after reading your review I may look into.:thumbright:
     
  3. buffnut453

    buffnut453 Well-Known Member

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    As with most books by Peter Smith it tends towards hagiography of the dive bomber role but I agree it's overall an excellent piece of work and includes some interesting photos. The Mushroom Publications book on the Skua is also well worth a look, as is Peter Lloyd's covering FAA camouflage and markings during the early stages of the war - Skuas going into battle still in overall silver dope but with black undersides anyone?
     
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