Air fighting began in the First World War, when single, fabric-covered aeroplanes scouted for the soldiers below. Pilots and observers fought aerial duels with rifles or revolvers. Soon the two-seaters were carrying machine-guns, and the scouts were flying in pairs. Later, the pairs developed into squadrons, and team fighting developed until German ‘circuses’ of fifty vividly-painted scouts fought British ‘wings’. In the Second World War the Battle of Britain pilots fought in much the same way, but faster planes and greater altitudes brought a trend towards smaller formations. The introduction of jets saw the fighting unit reduced still further and now, with supersonic fly-by-wire technology pushing the frontiers of air power ever further, formations have returned to single numbers. Air warfare has come full circle
Air Vice- Marshal Johnson was the top scoring Allied fighter pilot in the Second World War. He also fought with the United States Air Force in the Korean conflict. His book chronicles the achievements of those great fighter leaders of both wars, who were not only successful in the air but also played their part in shaping the course of air combat.