303 Squadron North American Mustang...

...Polish Wings 23, new from MMP Books

Title:  Polish Wings 23: 303 Squadron North American Mustang

Author: Steve Brooking, Wojtek Matusiak, Piotr Sikora

Publisher:  MMP

ISBN:  978-83-65281-80-7

The latest release is number 23 in their Polish Wings series from MMP and it covers one of the Polish squadrons within the RAF.  It was established in August 1940, with Polish pilots who had escaped the German occupation of their country.  As is explained within the opening section of background text, these were experienced pilots who also had combat experience against the Luftwaffe.  Coming to the UK they began to fly modern fighters, namely Spitfires, along with an effective early warning and control system.  The text tells the story of the unit through the war, leading to the change in equipment in 1945 as they became the only Polish squadron to operate what in RAF service was known as the Mustang IV.  This included both the P-51D and the P-51K.  There were only a couple of the P-51D issued, and these are recognisable for having standard  RAF camouflage of Ocean Grey/ Dark Green disruptive patterned upper surfaces, and Medium Sea Grey undersides.  The remaining aircraft were all in a natural metal finish.

Following the background story, the bulk of the book then consists of lots of archive photos showing both individual aircraft as well as the pilots who flew them, not just in the last couple of months of the war in Europe, but beyond that to the end of 1946 when the squadron was finally disbanded.  Along with the photos there are a series of the fine colour profiles which are a common feature of this Polish Wings series.  Both the photos and the artwork all have detailed captions, which provide yet more detail that will be invaluable to the modeller and historian alike.  There is a lot in here for the modeller as there are lots of little details highlighted in the pictures and artwork.  Things like some having their individual code letter repeated under the nose while some do not.  Little details such as the shape of the camera gun port, and one which was new to me, a small circular port on the left side of the fuselage below the cockpit for firing a signal pistol.  The photos show this also has a distinctive smoke ring around it.

There is a lot of information in here detailing the use of the Mustang IV as well as the background to the Squadron badge, which though disbanded back in 1946 has been resurrected in the modern Polish Air Force, which you will also find adorning the top of the fuselage of a Mig-29 as was detailed in the earlier book in the series, Polish Wings 21.  This new one will make an ideal companion to it.

Thanks to MMP Books, who kindly provided my review copy.

Robin