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Carrier Pilot: One of the greatest pilot's memoirs of WWII - a true aviation classic.

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‘It has everything a war memoir should have’ LEN DEIGHTON ‘OF ALL THE AIRCRAFT I HAD EVER SEEN, THESE WERE THE MOST WICKED-LOOKING BASTARDS. THE CORSAIR LOOKED TRULY VICIOUS …’ In 1942 Norman Hanson learnt to fly the Royal Navy’s newest fighter: the US-built Chance Vought Corsair. Fast, rugged and demanding to fly, it was an intimidating machine. But in the hands of it ‘It has everything a war memoir should have’ LEN DEIGHTON ‘OF ALL THE AIRCRAFT I HAD EVER SEEN, THESE WERE THE MOST WICKED-LOOKING BASTARDS. THE CORSAIR LOOKED TRULY VICIOUS …’ In 1942 Norman Hanson learnt to fly the Royal Navy’s newest fighter: the US-built Chance Vought Corsair. Fast, rugged and demanding to fly, it was an intimidating machine. But in the hands of its young Fleet Air Arm pilots it also proved to be a lethal weapon. Posted to the South Pacific aboard HMS Illustrious, Hanson and his squadron took the fight to the Japanese. Facing a desparate and determined enemy, Kamikaze attacks and the ever-present dangers of flying off a pitching carrier deck, death was never far away. Brought to life in vivid, visceral detail, Carrier Pilot is one of the finest aviator’s memoirs of the war; an awe-inspiring, thrilling, sometimes terrifying account of war in the air. PRAISE FOR CARRIER PILOT 'Just outstanding. Carrier Pilot is up there with First Light and The Big Show as one of the best pilot’s memoirs of WWII.’ ROWLAND WHITE, AUTHOR OF VULCAN 607 'Hanson's thrilling memoir takes you right into the cockpit in a way few writers have ever managed. The lethal world of the wartime Royal Navy carrier pilot, with its casual and shocking violence, horrific attrition, yet extraordinary camaraderie is so vividly brought to life that one can almost smell the smoke, oil and sweat. Real, adrenalin-charged, and ridiculously dangerous flying, Hanson's account is an aviation classic that has to be read.’ JAMES HOLLAND, AUTHOR OF DAM BUSTERS and THE WAR IN THE WEST


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‘It has everything a war memoir should have’ LEN DEIGHTON ‘OF ALL THE AIRCRAFT I HAD EVER SEEN, THESE WERE THE MOST WICKED-LOOKING BASTARDS. THE CORSAIR LOOKED TRULY VICIOUS …’ In 1942 Norman Hanson learnt to fly the Royal Navy’s newest fighter: the US-built Chance Vought Corsair. Fast, rugged and demanding to fly, it was an intimidating machine. But in the hands of it ‘It has everything a war memoir should have’ LEN DEIGHTON ‘OF ALL THE AIRCRAFT I HAD EVER SEEN, THESE WERE THE MOST WICKED-LOOKING BASTARDS. THE CORSAIR LOOKED TRULY VICIOUS …’ In 1942 Norman Hanson learnt to fly the Royal Navy’s newest fighter: the US-built Chance Vought Corsair. Fast, rugged and demanding to fly, it was an intimidating machine. But in the hands of its young Fleet Air Arm pilots it also proved to be a lethal weapon. Posted to the South Pacific aboard HMS Illustrious, Hanson and his squadron took the fight to the Japanese. Facing a desparate and determined enemy, Kamikaze attacks and the ever-present dangers of flying off a pitching carrier deck, death was never far away. Brought to life in vivid, visceral detail, Carrier Pilot is one of the finest aviator’s memoirs of the war; an awe-inspiring, thrilling, sometimes terrifying account of war in the air. PRAISE FOR CARRIER PILOT 'Just outstanding. Carrier Pilot is up there with First Light and The Big Show as one of the best pilot’s memoirs of WWII.’ ROWLAND WHITE, AUTHOR OF VULCAN 607 'Hanson's thrilling memoir takes you right into the cockpit in a way few writers have ever managed. The lethal world of the wartime Royal Navy carrier pilot, with its casual and shocking violence, horrific attrition, yet extraordinary camaraderie is so vividly brought to life that one can almost smell the smoke, oil and sweat. Real, adrenalin-charged, and ridiculously dangerous flying, Hanson's account is an aviation classic that has to be read.’ JAMES HOLLAND, AUTHOR OF DAM BUSTERS and THE WAR IN THE WEST

30 review for Carrier Pilot: One of the greatest pilot's memoirs of WWII - a true aviation classic.

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jean

    This memoir is about a pilot aboard the Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious. Hanson was a squadron commander. Hanson tells about his time in boot camp and in pilot training. He then describes life on the carrier, HMS Illustrious. Hanson describes in detail the actions he fought on HMS Illustrious in the Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. Lieutenant Commander Normal Hanson was born in 1914 in the village of Keighley, Yorkshire. He served in the Royal Navy from 1941 to 1 This memoir is about a pilot aboard the Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious. Hanson was a squadron commander. Hanson tells about his time in boot camp and in pilot training. He then describes life on the carrier, HMS Illustrious. Hanson describes in detail the actions he fought on HMS Illustrious in the Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. Lieutenant Commander Normal Hanson was born in 1914 in the village of Keighley, Yorkshire. He served in the Royal Navy from 1941 to 1946. He fought in the Pacific and took part in the Palembary refineries attack and in the Sakishima Islands. The book is well written and almost reads like a novel. The book was originally published in 1979. It is one of the few memoires about the British Navy in the Pacific. I read this as an audiobook downloaded from Audible. The book is almost thirteen hours. Chris MacDonnell does a good job narrating the story. MacDonnell is an English actor and audiobook narrator. He grew up in the acting world as both his parents worked for British film director David Lean.

  2. 5 out of 5

    John

    Excellent book about the overlooked British aircraft carriers in the Pacific. I would highly recommend this to anyone with an interest in carrier pilot training and life. Although about the Brits there are American connections. They flew the American F4U Corsair fighters and the author received his flight training in Pensacola and Miami. It has lots of fascinating derails about his training, carrier landings and life aboard an aircraft carrier.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Edoardo Albert

    There’s a strange new fashion in publishing to make a book’s subtitle into an advertising blurb. Browse Amazon – particularly its Kindle pages – and you will see books with, right there on their title lines, advertising bumph such as ‘the most uplifting and romantic novel’, ‘the gripping, bestselling Richard & Judy book club thriller’, and in the case of Carrier Pilot, ‘one of the greatest pilot’s memoirs of WWII – a true aviation classic’. Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s not. That’s not to There’s a strange new fashion in publishing to make a book’s subtitle into an advertising blurb. Browse Amazon – particularly its Kindle pages – and you will see books with, right there on their title lines, advertising bumph such as ‘the most uplifting and romantic novel’, ‘the gripping, bestselling Richard & Judy book club thriller’, and in the case of Carrier Pilot, ‘one of the greatest pilot’s memoirs of WWII – a true aviation classic’. Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s not. That’s not to say Carrier Pilot isn’t a good book: it’s a fine read. But it’s not in the category of books that transcend the limitations of being a memoir and thus being limited to a particular man’s experiences and memories. However, what it does do is tell Norman Hanson’s story very well, of how he ended up training to be a pilot with the Royal Fleet Air Arm and sailing over to America in 1942 to be trained as a pilot in Florida. Indeed, the vast majority of the book is concerned with training: flying a plane is difficult enough. Taking it off and landing it again on the truncated runway of an aircraft carrier pitching on the ocean makes it all an order of magnitude more difficult and dangerous. In fact, that’s what comes across most clearly in Hanson’s memoir: just how dangerous the training was. Although I did not tally the deaths up exactly, my impression was that as many pilots died in training as died in combat – perhaps even more. Hanson and his colleagues were not helped by having to fly the F4 Corsair, a plane of which Hanson says, in the book’s most memorable phrase, “of all the aircraft I had ever seen, these were the most wicked-looking bastards. The Corsair looked truly vicious.” These first Corsairs were vicious, and utterly unforgiving of pilot error. This is where the book is strongest, showing the cost and courage required even to learn to fly these planes. So while not a true classic, Carrier Pilot brings new light to a discipline (fleet air flying) and a theatre (the British in the Far East) that have received relatively little attention and thus makes a worthy addition to any WWII library.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Geoff.B

    not much. not very well written. flaccid style and the usual R.A.F. smugness which was endemic to so many writers of that genre and era.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Earle F. stone

    Excellent ! Totally well written. Held my attention from start to Finish! The descriptions made you feel like you were there, living ut.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Brad

    If I had to choose one word to describe this book it would have to be "Interesting". I have read somewhere over 50 books on WWII, but this one provided an unique perspective. Although Hanson is by no means a polished writer he is quite readable. He received some of his training in the USA, so his description in that regard are the same as almost any other pilot's with the exception of his having a surprising talent for functioning under oxygen deprivation. The "Interesting" part comes from his d If I had to choose one word to describe this book it would have to be "Interesting". I have read somewhere over 50 books on WWII, but this one provided an unique perspective. Although Hanson is by no means a polished writer he is quite readable. He received some of his training in the USA, so his description in that regard are the same as almost any other pilot's with the exception of his having a surprising talent for functioning under oxygen deprivation. The "Interesting" part comes from his detailed accounts of a junior officers life in the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm. Since the Royal Navy is "Wet" booze is an integral part of their daily activity. Chasing skirts is a close second. Hanson himself was married but doesn't hesitate to relate many of his fellow pilots exploits. I was well into the book when I began to ask myself whether this guy had ever seen combat. He indeed eventually does with the attendant loss of friends and personal close calls. I wouldn't recommend this book as a stand alone study of a carrier pilots life, but more as an adjunct to more detailed accounts.

  7. 5 out of 5

    John Royer

    An interesting read but frequently difficult read. The British version of the English language from the mid 1940s is not only quite different from today’s but is radically different from today’s American English. Colloquial expressions are not only difficult to interpret but are, at times, totally meaningless to an American reader. I was born in the mid 1940s and as a former pilot, am somewhat familiar with 1940’s US pilots vernacular. Places and locations are not always familiar and the vernacu An interesting read but frequently difficult read. The British version of the English language from the mid 1940s is not only quite different from today’s but is radically different from today’s American English. Colloquial expressions are not only difficult to interpret but are, at times, totally meaningless to an American reader. I was born in the mid 1940s and as a former pilot, am somewhat familiar with 1940’s US pilots vernacular. Places and locations are not always familiar and the vernacular specific to WW II British military pilots is nearly totally different than their American counterparts. Then there is the Royal Navy vernacular. About the only two words that are common between the RN and the USN are port and starboard. Still it is worth the time and effort to read and enjoy if for no other reason than to obtain an better understanding of the world of British Naval Aviation in the South Pacific during the 1940s war.

  8. 4 out of 5

    D. E.

    An NH. WW II Military, British Fleet Arm, Aviation Action Adventure (CP) (OOTGPMO WW II) (ATAC) NH. has penned a World War II, British fleet arm, military aviation action adventure,b which begins with a young British pilot going through pilot training at NAS Pensacola where he learns the basic fundamentals of flight. As he advances through training he meets and has a good time in the Pensacola area. From NAS Pensacola he goes to NAS Opka Locka for advanced training. Upon completion he enters the An NH. WW II Military, British Fleet Arm, Aviation Action Adventure (CP) (OOTGPMO WW II) (ATAC) NH. has penned a World War II, British fleet arm, military aviation action adventure,b which begins with a young British pilot going through pilot training at NAS Pensacola where he learns the basic fundamentals of flight. As he advances through training he meets and has a good time in the Pensacola area. From NAS Pensacola he goes to NAS Opka Locka for advanced training. Upon completion he enters the next and final phase as he learns to fly the Corsair. He is assigned the HMS Illusterous in the Southwest Pacific. This is an excellent read for the genre.....DEHS

  9. 4 out of 5

    joel chait

    This book includes detail explanation on the process of becoming a pilot and its training. The British Pacific Fleet activity was unknown to me as well as the fact that they had aircraft carriers and fought the Japanese. This book was an eye opener. The author really conveys the real story of how dangerous was the training and the carrier landing and the fact that many lives were lost on non combat action. There is not much dogfight stories which are always compelling, but the book demonstrate t This book includes detail explanation on the process of becoming a pilot and its training. The British Pacific Fleet activity was unknown to me as well as the fact that they had aircraft carriers and fought the Japanese. This book was an eye opener. The author really conveys the real story of how dangerous was the training and the carrier landing and the fact that many lives were lost on non combat action. There is not much dogfight stories which are always compelling, but the book demonstrate that telling the story from beginning to end of a carrier fighter pilot is just as fulfilling if not more than a book full of fighting action.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Terry Pray

    A very good read I have read probably 100 books on World war II, most by historians or biographers. This one is different. Being a memoir, it is, of course, filled with details of various battles from a pilots first person perspective but also contains numerous quips that will have you rolling on the floor. Keep in mind, the author is a British pilot so it is a British sense of humor but it is so rich that I actually burst out laughing in spots. It's a very good read and I highly recommend it to A very good read I have read probably 100 books on World war II, most by historians or biographers. This one is different. Being a memoir, it is, of course, filled with details of various battles from a pilots first person perspective but also contains numerous quips that will have you rolling on the floor. Keep in mind, the author is a British pilot so it is a British sense of humor but it is so rich that I actually burst out laughing in spots. It's a very good read and I highly recommend it to any military history buff!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ben

    Reading this book from the perspective of try to learn the most about flight and combat flying this book was intriguing. The time spent in air school and practicing carrier operations was informative. Due to the time period involved and the group there was less combat tactics discussed then I was expecting. However it was still a fun read. Hanson did a great job writing with a driving tempo and creating vivid descriptions of his past life. A recommendation for those interested in learning about Reading this book from the perspective of try to learn the most about flight and combat flying this book was intriguing. The time spent in air school and practicing carrier operations was informative. Due to the time period involved and the group there was less combat tactics discussed then I was expecting. However it was still a fun read. Hanson did a great job writing with a driving tempo and creating vivid descriptions of his past life. A recommendation for those interested in learning about flight.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kelly Burgin

    The story of an English Corsair carrier pilot This is one man's report of learning to fly then training for war as a carrier based pilot in the Pacific. Detailed and personal the story moves back and forth between machines then the men,and friends,that flew them. Many did not return home. Death occurred when least expected and, at times, as expected when brave men tried to inflict more damage on the enemy. A good read. The story of an English Corsair carrier pilot This is one man's report of learning to fly then training for war as a carrier based pilot in the Pacific. Detailed and personal the story moves back and forth between machines then the men,and friends,that flew them. Many did not return home. Death occurred when least expected and, at times, as expected when brave men tried to inflict more damage on the enemy. A good read.

  13. 5 out of 5

    John Landers

    This is an interesting and well written insight into the training of WWII pilots in general and British Carrier pilots in particular. I had an occasional problem with language usage differences between American and British usages. I finished the book before I realized that there was a glossary in the back of the book. Interesting details about flying, carrier takeoffs and landings and the general risks of flying and combat.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey Frazier

    The title says it all. A worthwhile Read, I enjoyed it greatly. the duty of one pilot from training to the end of the war. The Pacific war is covered in around the last half of the story but the whole of it is entertaining. Mr Hanson captures you with amazing descriptions of procedures and of experiences of both be and his comrades in arms. I found myself quite sad when I got to the end. That is the mark of a great book/store it always leaves you wanting More.

  15. 5 out of 5

    DAVID JAYCOX

    So so account of carrier fighting during WWII. This book focuses mostly on the training and non air combat experiences of a British flyer in the Pacific theatre of the war. I was disappointed in the little time devoted to the actual combat experiences of the pilot. I would not recommend this book to anyone looking for more action. I was forced to skim over a third of it to stay awake.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Hijacking Of

    Great technically correct effort about the tribulations of flying very high powered aircraft, initially by novice aviators. The reading was slowed somewhat because of the over use of British slang and colloquialisms. For aviation buffs, in particular F-4U Corsair aircraft, it's a gem. I am associated with two very well known aviation museums - this book has enlightened me and will provide "backstory" anecdotes about military aviation in war time. Great technically correct effort about the tribulations of flying very high powered aircraft, initially by novice aviators. The reading was slowed somewhat because of the over use of British slang and colloquialisms. For aviation buffs, in particular F-4U Corsair aircraft, it's a gem. I am associated with two very well known aviation museums - this book has enlightened me and will provide "backstory" anecdotes about military aviation in war time.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Downing

    Great read, a different view of WW2 with lesser known operations and locations. A worthy read from beginning to end Well written, easy to understand for an American, even with a decidedly British flair. Loved his perception of America, and his honest opinion about America’s racially charged history. Only a foot note on that subject compared to the bulk of the story but worth noting. Get a taste for the treacherous, thrilling life of fighter pilot in WW2.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Tony Threlkeld

    Very good memoir of a WW2 pilot, from learning to fly and all the training to become a fighter pilot. He trained to become a carrier pilot. The author described his memories more or less day by day. Very sad parts of the book where friends were killed in accidents or in actual combat with the Japanese.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Don Crumbley

    The Royal Navy Corsair in WWII Not much is known about the heroic effort of the Corsair's use in WWII by the Royal Navy, as the U. S. Marines use of the Corsair in WWII in the Pacific Theater and Korea has the most press in the U.S. Well documented and clearly lays out the danger they incurred in use of the Corsair. It is an aviation classic. The Royal Navy Corsair in WWII Not much is known about the heroic effort of the Corsair's use in WWII by the Royal Navy, as the U. S. Marines use of the Corsair in WWII in the Pacific Theater and Korea has the most press in the U.S. Well documented and clearly lays out the danger they incurred in use of the Corsair. It is an aviation classic.

  20. 4 out of 5

    marvin shults

    Great Read A very real review of history for those of who lived during those days. Certainly a great bit of history for the younger generations. One would think that man would not even think about starting a War. Something that many Politician's Need to learn. Great job by the Author. Great Read A very real review of history for those of who lived during those days. Certainly a great bit of history for the younger generations. One would think that man would not even think about starting a War. Something that many Politician's Need to learn. Great job by the Author.

  21. 4 out of 5

    sally reid

    A riveting memoir This was a truly riveting story to read! I thought that after looking at the number of pages it would take a bit to read. It took only 3 nights!! I learned a lot and was mesmerized by the telling of his escapades, his close calls, and life on the ship. I was truly saddened by his re-telling of the loss of friends and .comrades during his flight time!!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Allan van der Heiden

    The war was harsh and the author does not deny it in the nonchalant way he reports when his colleagues died. The way it’s reported seems like those deaths made no impact but there must be lots of unresolved grief if the author is this blasé about death. Very informative about the war though. Was an interesting read.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Rick B.H. Ghost

    A book of one carrier pilot from his first flight to his remarkable survival and memories of the RN during World War 2. Good times, the loss of friends and the farewell to his home ship. The dangers not just towards air fights but the fear of landing on the decks of carriers you are put in the seat of those pilots.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

    Will read again . Very good memoir by British carrier aviator. Had never seen one by a Brit of carrier ops in Pacific theater. Well written but kind of slow to start as "Hans" writes as much about training as he does about the war itself. Will read again . Very good memoir by British carrier aviator. Had never seen one by a Brit of carrier ops in Pacific theater. Well written but kind of slow to start as "Hans" writes as much about training as he does about the war itself.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Clare Johnson, CLU, ChFC

    A very good picture of the spread from the British view I chose the rating because the book deserved it! The author lived the life and told of the experience in a way that makes you feel as if you were there.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Larry C. Smith

    Interesting read Interesting stories about carrier pilots and their adventure at war. Some parts a little confusing and hard to understand since it was from an Englishman's point of view. Never the less, it was an amazing book to read. Interesting read Interesting stories about carrier pilots and their adventure at war. Some parts a little confusing and hard to understand since it was from an Englishman's point of view. Never the less, it was an amazing book to read.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Larry

    Makes it come alive Few books can transport the reader enough to cause rapid breathing, this one did several times and then often added humor relief too. This is a must read for WW II history buffs and even more so if you are interested in aircraft! and military insight.

  28. 5 out of 5

    James D Werhane

    Well written memoir. Liked the story from the prospective of an English Naval aviator. Mr. Hanson te!!s his story with typical British wit and reserve. Any fan of WW II history will enjoy this book.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Stu

    Excellent Book - Worthy Companion To First Light This was an outstanding read. Authentic, gripping and well written. As per other reviews I’m surprised it’s not held in the same esteem as Geoffrey Wellum’s “First Light”.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Doug Rawden

    A great insight into British Naval aviation during the war, a change from the Battle of Britain books, as brilliant as they are. So sad reading about those that lost their lives in accidents, not that any loss of life is acceptable. Thoroughly recommended if you enjoy this genre.

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