"Scottish Military Aerodromes of the 1920s and 1930s" by Malcolm Fife is a remarkable book, for all the right reasons. We've commented in the past how Malcolm Fife's writing, especially his writing about aviation, has such amazing authority. This is a book that must be considered the definitive work on military aerodromes in Scotland during the two decades that followed the rundown after the First World War and came before the huge World War Two build-up got into its stride.
The quality of the writing is as good as you'd expect from Malcolm Fife; and the photographs, maps and tables are never short of fascinating. What really makes this book stand out, however,is the depth of the research that simply oozes from every page. This really does make it an essential point of reference for anyone with any interest in the subject.
I should say that I am fascinated by the story of military aviation in Scotland: but that probably makes me a harder critic to please than someone less immersed in aspects of the subject of the book. What came as something of a surprise to me was to discover that after the First World War, military aviation in Scotland - the home in 1913 of the first operational military aerodrome in Britain - contracted quite so dramatically, only then to slowly bounce back.
Anyone familiar with the large number of military airfields that peppered so much of Scotland, especially its eastern side, during World War Two will be amazed to discover that during the period covered by this book there were only seven RAF aerodromes operating. This has allowed the author to write what amounts to full histories during this period of RAF Leuchars; RAF Donibristle; RAF Turnhouse; RAF Novar/Evanton; RAF Abbotsinch; RAF Montrose and RAF West Freugh. There is also a chapter covering military aerodromes that opened in 1939; another on flying boats and seaplane bases; and another on aircraft carriers and seaplane ships.
This is one of those books that I know will find a home on my bookshelf; and a book that will be turned to for years to come as an enduring work of reference. Highly recommended for anyone with any interest in aviation, especially military aviation in Scotland.