Warfare in News


Posted on Tuesday 6th June

Book Press Release “Phantom In The Cold War - RAF Wildenrath 1977 to 1992"

David Gledhill, Horncastle, Lincolnshire.

David Gledhill, a local Lincolnshire author, is launching his latest book “Phantom In The Cold War” at the annual "Cockpitfest" event at Newark Air Museum at 1 PM on Saturday 17 June 2017. The event will bring together a rare group of former aircrew who flew the Phantom during the Cold War who will be available for interview. The event will take place alongside the cockpit of a Phantom which served during the Cold War.

“Phantom In The Cold War” is released by the renowned military publisher "Pen and Sword" based in David's home county of Yorkshire. The book gives the inside story of air defence flying during the Cold War, describing operations by the Royal Air Force's Phantom fighter jets from the former base at RAF Wildenrath on the Dutch, German border where David served. Significantly, a number of former Phantom aircrew have contributed recollections describing their own experiences in remarkable depth. These include a former Station Commander, squadron commanders, pilots, navigators and groundcrew. “Phantom In The Cold War" includes many previously unpublished Cold War incidents and describes how the Phantom would have operated had the Cold War turned hot. It delves into the operations diaries of one of the Wildenrath squadrons and shows daily life flying and fighting the iconic Phantom in vivid detail. Topics include operating in the German low flying areas, holding Battle Flight which was the quick reaction alert force, a diary of squadron life and the operational war plans.

The Phantom was described as "the triumph of thrust over aerodynamics" but it was much loved by those who flew it. During the Cold War it was Britain’s contribution to the air defence of the NATO Central Region but there were just 22 Phantoms based at RAF Wildenrath which was home to Nos. 19 and 92 Squadrons. Those who served will remember vividly the rattle of the telebrief system: “Battle Flight, alert two Phantoms.” What followed was a rapid scramble and a headlong rush towards the Inner German Border. Incidents between the opposing power blocs were occasionally chilling, sometimes amusing but never dull and are recounted in the book.

David served for 37 years in the RAF as a navigator spending 13 years at RAF Coningsby culminating in 3 years as the Executive Officer on the Tornado F3 Operational Conversion Unit. Since he retired from the RAF in 2010, by then serving at the Air Warfare Centre at RAF Waddington, he has written twelve books. His previous factual works published by Fonthill Media describe his experiences in the cockpit of the Phantom and the Tornado F3 in the UK, Germany and the Falkland Islands. Both of these aircraft flew from RAF Coningsby for many years. He has also published a series of novels in the Phantom Air Combat series following the exploits of a fictional Phantom fighter crew. The novels are consistently in the Top Ten of the Aviation History category on Amazon in both the UK and the USA. David grew up reading the Biggles books by WE Johns but says that there seem to be few modern equivalents. Having flown over 3000 hours during his career, mostly in fast-jets, his ambition was to take his readers into the cockpit with a degree of realism absent in other books. He is keen to pass on his experiences by lecturing to aviation enthusiast groups around the County and beyond and takes every opportunity to show visitors around the Phantom cockpit at Newark Air Museum during shows. He has recently acquired the Tornado F3 mission simulator which is now on display at Thorpe Camp Visitor Centre near to the Tornado F3's former home at RAF Coningsby. He hopes to use the simulator as a means to pass on his experiences not only to local enthusiasts but to a new generation of potential flyers. He has been interviewed extensively on TV, radio and has described the Phantom at length on You Tube via the "Aircrew Interview" channel.

David's books have a sinister resonance given rising tensions between NATO and Russia. With British Typhoons deployed to NATO's flanks in Romania, the stories are, increasingly, relevant to modern readers.

It is rare for ex Phantom aircrew to get together but David will be joined at the launch by a number of former Phantom aircrew and groundcrew most of whom contributed, and they will be available to answer questions and to sign copies of the book. A special guest, Lawrence "Benny" Goodman, a Lancaster pilot who served on 617 Squadron and flew on the Tirpitz raid will be present at the launch. Although he did not serve at Wildenrath, Lawrence never lost his love of flying and may be persuaded to recount his experiences!
“Phantom In The Cold War - RAF Wildenrath 1977 to 1992" is available on pre-release on Amazon in hardback priced at £25.00 but signed copies will be available at the book launch along with a unique print of the blue commemorative Phantom that graces the cover.

Further Reading

Phantom in the Cold War

Only £25.00

Phantom in the Cold War

(Hardback - 271 pages)
by David Gledhill

The McDonnell Douglas F4 Phantom was a true multi-role combat aircraft. Introduced into the RAF in 1968, it was employed in ground attack, air reconnaissance and air defence roles. Later, with the arrival of the Jaguar in the early 1970s, it changed over to air defence. In its heyday, it served as Britain’s principal Cold War fighter; there were seven UK-based squadrons plus the Operational Conversion Unit, two Germany-based squadrons and a further Squadron deployed… Read more...

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