Johnnie Johnson is a character literally straight out of the pages of ' Boys Own'. By the end of the Second World War the RAF Spitfire pilot was a household name in Britain, feted by Churchill and Eisenhower. Although he missed the Battle of Britain, when slow- flying bombers were abundant and easy targets for fighters, by 1945 he had notched up 381/2 enemy 'kills' - all fighters, which took far more skill to shoot down - and was officially the RAF's top-scoring fighter ace. One of his most impressive achievements was that, despite participating in over 1,000 combat missions, he was never shot down. His Spitfire was damaged once, and on his return to base he apologised to his fitter, saying, 'I was surrounded by six of them.' Aviation historian Dilip Sarkar spent many hours with Johnson in the final years of the great man's life, recording the last interviews Johnson ever gave. The book is infused with breathtaking firsthand accounts from Johnnie himself and many of his fellow Spitfire pilots, also interviewed by the author, and profusely illustrated with photographs from Johnson's personal albums.
Dilip Sarkar has been fascinated by the Battle of Britain since childhood, he remains both moved and inspired by the story of Churchill's fabled Few, those young airmen who stood between freedom and a Britain dominated by Nazi Germany. Since the 1970s he has met and interviewed more Battle of Britain pilots than any other historian. He has researched the subject thoroughly and has published over thirty books, titles which include the only biographical works formally endorsed by the families of both Group Captain Sir Douglas Bader and Air Vice-Marshal Johnnie Johnson. In 2003, Dilip was made an MBE for services to aviation history, and elected to the Fellowship of the Royal Historical Society in 2006. He lives in Worcester. For more information please see www.dilipsarkarmbe.co.uk.