Review: Harrier 809, Rowland White

Rating: 4 out of 5

I mostly picked this one up because I had read Mr Rowland White’s book on the Vulcan. I enjoyed that already going in as it was a friend’s recommendation, and Mr White’s name stayed with me in a positive light. Hence I took the opportunity to add something I thought would be similar into my library.

In truth, I don’t remember if the two books are similar in style, but when I came away from the Vulcan story with mostly positive memories then I’m much less positive about the Harriers. I think there’s an overabundance of acronyms in this title and while it probably adds to the military character of the story, it gets tedious rather quickly to have to remember again what an acronym was (and, no, none of these were things I would be using on a daily basis after reading the book either).

But, clearly, that’s not the main story. The main story is how Tom Gedge managed to conjure up an additional squadron of Harriers in minimal time and then send these down to the Falklands. Throughout, the reader is peppered with statistics of one kind and another, especially relating to the fighters’ capabilities. The same approach is not given to the Argentinians, although we do see at least some of the Argentinian sorties in detail.

The entire book is a build-up to the Battle of the Falklands with its ensuing losses in men, ships, and planes. The author explains—and, indeed, shows in a number of chapters focussing on these events—how these came about, what the CAP was doing (not a new acronym!), and what sort of efforts the British side went through to support their “boots on the ground”.

All in all, an enjoyable and interesting title, but one which didn’t help full comprehension of all the ongoing activities by it’s resorting to a fairly military-sounding style.

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