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Spitfire Glory: The Wartime Flying Life of Leif Lundsten

Tor Idar Larsen

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ISBN 10: 178155501X / ISBN 13: 9781781555019
Published by Fonthill Media, 2016
New Condition: New Hardcover
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Bibliographic Details

Title: Spitfire Glory: The Wartime Flying Life of ...

Publisher: Fonthill Media

Publication Date: 2016

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition: New

About this title

Synopsis:

Major Leif Lundsten flew hundreds of Spitfires during the Second World War. As a fighter pilot with 331 Squadron and test pilot with Vickers-Armstrong, he strapped on as many as seven different marks of Spitfires. All the way from the early mark II up to the rare, brutal XII version.

Following Lundsten’s career as a fighter pilot through the War, all the Spitfires he flew are covered in this book along with descriptions of his sorties. Behind every Spitfire there is a story to be told. Stories of brave heroism, tragic deaths or determined resilience. Many of the Spitfires disappeared quickly, shot down by Luftwaffe fighters. Others ‘lived’ longer than our hero did, and still exist today, becoming legendary Spitfires on their own. The author pays tribute to a forgotten Spitfire hero, a gallant and brave man that did his country proud. Time and time again Leif Lundsten took a Spitfire to the air, whether it was an air-test or to meet the Luftwaffe in a dogfight over the channel. He never lived to tell his story, but the stories of the Spitfires he flew remains. This is Leif Lundsten’s legacy.

From the Author:

Tell us the story behind Spitfire Glory
Well, it's actually a five-year project that has simply grown as each year have passed. The more information I gathered, the more I could write. I did a short booklet about Leif in 2011, but this was mostly based on secondary sources and putting two and two together from other books. When I managed to make a deal with a Danish source about Lundstens logbook, I suddenly had pages and pages of primary source of information. It turned out Lundsten was not simply a very skilled squadron leader at the time of his death, he was much more than that. I am of course thinking of his test pilot period in 1943. By sorting through all of that, I presented an idea to the publisher who thankfully went along with it even it was a work in progress. But it had to be a two-side story. It couldn't be just about him, it also had to be about all the Spitfires he flew. So, while tribute is being paid to him, it's also a tribute to the legendary fighter and to all the pilots who flew the Spitfires Lundsten took the air. Sometimes fate can be a very strange, as the book will show you.
Why the title?
I wanted Spitfire in the title, and came up with several suggestions to the publisher. The working title was "Lundstens Spitfires", but that one did not cover every aspect of the book, so I was pleased when the publisher came up with something else. I thought of calling it "Into the fire" with a slight nod to his final sortie, but I felt it struck too close to the former book "Into the swarm" and it did not have Spitfire in the title.
Who is Leif Lundsten and what made him special?
Speaking to a relative of his, we could conclude he was the only pure-bred Toten-boy who ended up with the Norwegian Spitfire squadrons, and boy what career he made for himself! This fact may not mean much to foreigners outside Norway though, but I'll explain further; Leif came from a very peaceful, very relaxed and sparsely populated farming community in Norway. The difference between Toten of the 1920s and 30s to London in 1941 is overwhelmingly huge. The fact he not only excelled, but ended up as a squadron leader leading 331 during D-Day and a test pilot with Vickers-Armstrong made him a shining star of the RAF and the Royal Norwegian Air Force. Bringing his down-to-earth Toten attitude and quiet personality into a world war is not only fascinating, I can also somewhat identify as I grew up in the same community myself. Decades may be between us, but people are people.
So why haven't we heard of him before?
Well, he left us all to soon. And even if he had survived, I doubt he would have wanted much fuzz around him. Information was not easily available in decades after WWII. With time, his name faded away to most people except friends and family.
Why write the book like a diary?
Why not? It makes for an in-depth look into his flying career. It just shows how much flying these guys did, how reliable a Spitfire and its engine was. Besides, I like a systematic approach. It's almost like historic avation meets planespotters of today listing all those Spitfires!
Are all the Spitfire serial numbers correct?
No, chances are slim I got them all correctly, but I believe most are. I managed to avoid falling into a few traps along the way, for example his Mk XIV Spitfire or the Seafire. It's all in the book
Why no focus on his operations in 1940 or with Hurricanes in 41?
Good question. But the focus was always on his Spitfires. It is mentioned, but briefly. It was just a choice. Its not ONLY about Leif, but also about all these Spitfires and their stories prior and after Leif flew them. Like I said, the book can be read two-ways. With a focus on Leif or with a focus on all those beatiful Spitfires.
Norwegians may say some parts of the book is a simple re-write of "Spitfire Saga", what would you say to them?
Well, no, it's not. But, you can't get around it either can you? Especially those few sources of information directly about Lundsten which is in SS. I have no choice but to add them, they can't be excluded either. His test pilot period should be enough to deviate from this notion anyway. I would say it relies more heavily on ORB and the logbook. Also, I'm not quoting Haave-Olsen from SS, I have his logbook at hand.
What is so important about his test pilot period?
He was only one out of two (Berg excluded) Norwegians doing this type of work during his rest period. It puts him on the map as the foremost Spitfire-expert of all Norwegian pilots.
The English looks a bit fragile at times, why?
Well, I'm not fluent. I'm doing alright, but I rely on others to help me out. If they don't come through and the publisher also fails to come through, there's very little I can do about it. I am not skilled enough to spot these things myself. However, it have to be said that while I worked on Viking Spitfire, my English contact and friend who worked on the book said he left some stuff in there with an obvious Norwegian-English feel to it. He did not want to take away the originality of the book, and I happen to agree.

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