Thoroughbred Stallion of the Air
By Steve Pace
Fonthill Media Limited
ISBN: 978 1 78155 051 9
Review by Mark Barnes for War History Online
I was at North Weald aerodrome for a look round one of the aircraft restoration companies as part of a birthday treat organised by my brother-in-law. There was a Douglas Skyraider having it’s propeller sorted and other amazing bits of kit in various stages of renovation. Two Folland Gnat pilots paced out their display routine on a bit of vacant hard standing. A couple of airliners were gently rotting over on the perimeter. There was a lot of atmosphere about the place and then, to make it all perfect, two P51s cruised across the field before dropping down to land. We watched them taxi noisily up to the ground in front of the café and there wasn’t much of a leap of the imagination required to see yourself on a similar spot seventy years earlier. It was a sublime moment. I recognised one of the Mustang pilots as Maurice Hammond, and had been lucky to see a display he put on for my military vehicle group some time earlier. It might have been pointless to say hello to him because he wouldn’t know me from Adam, but I wanted to thank him anyway. It seemed like the right thing to do.
As the writer of the forward suggests, veteran author Steve Pace flies into a crowded sky of books about the Mustang and knows he has a job to do. I don’t have any specialist books on the plane in my collection, so I can’t compare it to other works and I am content to take it at face value. This is a very serious book in that American way that differs markedly to my regular diet of British produced titles.It is straightforward and very studious but immensely readable and it has an authority about it that only comes from experience and knowing your subject. It bears all the hallmarks of a labour of love.
We all know versions of the story of the Mustang and how it was built for the British who, finding the performance at altitude was lacking, stuck a Merlin engine in one to see what would happen. The rest is history. No story is ever that simple and here Mr Pace sets out the whole story of the aeroplane from discussions, to drawing board, to legend. Quite correctly