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Publisher's Summary

In 1942, Norman Hanson learned to fly the Royal Navy's newest fighter: the US-built Chance Vought Corsair. Fast, rugged, and demanding to fly, it was an intimidating machine. But in the hands of its young Fleet Air Arm pilots, it also proved to be a lethal weapon.
Posted to the South Pacific aboard HMS Illustrious, Hanson and his squadron took the fight to the Japanese. Facing a desperate and determined enemy, Kamikaze attacks, and the ever-present dangers of flying off a pitching carrier deck, death was never far away.
Brought to life in vivid, visceral detail, Carrier Pilot is one of the finest aviators' memoirs of the war; an awe-inspiring, thrilling, sometimes terrifying, account of war in the air.
©2016 Norman Hanson (P)2017 Tantor
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Customer Reviews

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By Jean on 11-26-17


This memoir is about a pilot aboard the Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious. Hanson was a squadron commander. Hanson tells about his time in boot camp and in pilot training. He then describes life on the carrier, HMS Illustrious. Hanson describes in detail the actions he fought on HMS Illustrious in the Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean.

Lieutenant Commander Normal Hanson was born in 1914 in the village of Keighley, Yorkshire. He served in the Royal Navy from 1941 to 1946. He fought in the Pacific and took part in the Palembary refineries attack and in the Sakishima Islands.

The book is well written and almost reads like a novel. The book was originally published in 1979. It is one of the few memoires about the British Navy in the Pacific.

The book is almost thirteen hours. Chris MacDonnell does a good job narrating the story. MacDonnell is an English actor and audiobook narrator. He grew up in the acting world as both his parents worked for British film director David Lean.

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5 of 5 people found this review helpful

By B Taub on 09-15-17

Interesting account of little covered piece of WW2

At least here in the US, we don't hear much about the British navy in the Pacific in WW2, and even less about British naval pilots. Hanson does a nice job of recounting his experiences as one of those pilots. There was a lot to learn here, especially for aviation buffs as the author covers his flight training in Florida, his time serving in Egypt and, eventually, his work flying Corsairs from carriers in the Pacific. He mourns the close friends he lost but also, at times, gives very detailed accounts of things like the experience of flying a corsair and the experience of escaping one that had crashed and was sinking. He also, at times, demonstrates a wonderfully dry sense of humor.

I definitely recommend this book if you're interested in military aviation, WW2 naval aviation, Corsairs, or the experience of being a British naval pilot.

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

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By TonyG on 10-22-17

One man's war

For those of us who have never fought in war it is almost inconceivable to understand how people experienced death, humour, dislocation, comradeship, without any of the "safe space" nonsense that afflicts the West today. These were brave men, and listening to Hanson's story is uplifting. Chris Macdonnell reads it well with clarity and empathy.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

By Stephen Howlett on 11-25-17

A new perspective on a rarely mentioned group of men

This book is a telling of the appalling losses of men and machine even before actual combat. The bravery of these men deserves far more recognition than they get. Very interesting book on the life of a man becoming a carrier pilot and the loss of most of his friends and for a change we get the British under a kamikaze attack.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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