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Summary

When the Falkland Islands were invaded by Argentina in April 1982, Britain’s immediate response was to send a task force. But behind the pomp and bravado of its departure, a sober reality lurked. A mere 20 Sea Harriers operating from two aircraft carriers would take on the might of the Argentine air force, some 200 planes strong. The MOD estimated that within four days and against such formidable air power, half the harriers would likely be lost.

To reinforce that meagre force, and in just three weeks, the Navy formed, trained and equipped a brand new squadron from scratch. Not since the Second World War had so much been expected of such a small band of pilots. Their home would be a container ship converted into a makeshift carrier. 809 Naval Air Squadron was born.

Other covert operations mounted by MI6 and the SAS in Latin America would provide vital intelligence to protect the task force from attack, but in the vanguard of the conflict it would be the Sea Harriers of the 809 whose heroics in the South Atlantic which would become legendary.

With characteristic insider knowledge and in thrilling detail, Rowland White tells the story of those amazing exploits - the dogfights, the 23 kills, the deadly Exocet attacks, the ejections - demonstrating just why the Harrier is mentioned in the same breath as the Spitfire, the Lancaster, and the Vulcan and is destined to join them in the ranks of our most celebrated aeronautical achievements.

©2020 Rowland White (P)2020 Penguin Audio

What listeners say about Harrier 809

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Very well written, researched and narrated

In my case it was the title of this book which almost 'threw me off the scent'. I'd passed it by a few times before reading the reviews and deciding to 'give it a go'.

Despite its understandable biase toward the Harrier and the story of 809, it wasn't long before the pages revealed that there was much more to this book than could be presumed by its title.

In 1982, my 20 year old mind had struggled to process the who, why and wherefore concerning the personal challenge I'd found myself in, let alone the complexity and enormity of the overall challenge I'd become a very small part of.

A busy life had made it easy to leave the questions for another time but, nearly forty years later, like many of us, I found myself with 'time on my hands'. I succumbed to the call of unanswered questions and the need to unravel confused memories.

I read a number of books about the conflict and, whilst they had been very good in their own right, I found that there were still questions which needed answering, and gaps in my memory and understanding, which needed filling.

In comparison, this book turned out to be a revelation, each page seemed to reveal another missing piece of the jigsaw, a jigsaw I'd never really appreciated the size of.

Very cleverly written, this book interlaces a myriad of parallel stories which converge, cross and entwine. So numerous, and complex, they could be likened to a 'heat map' of the many sorties carried out by this titles namesake.

Whilst much of the content dealt with aspects which I didn't think directly affected me, I was amazed at how often it became evident that the consequences of a series of 'chain reactions', so brilliantly described by the author, had done so.

It's evident to me that this book has been meticulously researched, and scrupulously fact checked. It has proven to be both a gripping, and an enlightening read. I'm confident that it will do the same for anyone with an affinity with this period of history, and/or an appreciation of human 'endeavour' in challenging times.

For what it's worth, I think that without the honest and factual accounts of the Argentine perspective, this book would not have been whole. As such, it may be an uncomfortable read for anyone with the belief that 'the opposition' was inferior in courage, tactics, equipment or wherewithal.

I hope that one day this author will be drawn to apply his incredible researching and, eloquent story telling credentials, to a focused study of the sea campaign. If written in the same immersive way, I feel sure that it would be something very special indeed.

Thanks Rowland.

6 people found this helpful

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Harrier 809

Excellent book , having grown up when the conflict was on this book brings to life the struggles & scarifies of are armed forces.
The attention to detail is superb on every level a must read

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As good as expected

Another excellent read, nice balance of technical and history. End credits hinted at next book Dambusters 617... Looking forward already.

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Usual greatness.

Sublime writing by Roland White, great reading by Roy McMillan. Must add five more words.

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Another classic from Rowland White

This is the 3rd audible book I have downloaded (and kept) from Rowland white. All have transported you into the cockpit of Vulcan bomber, space shuttle and now a sea harrier during the Falklands war. Great detail on actual events coupled with a great storyline. Highly recommend Harrier 809 and also suggest checking out other books as well. Very well narrated by Roy McMillan. 5 stars all around!

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Exciting stories and tragic loss from both side.

British military aviation at its best. a compelling tale of odds against a war machine thousands of miles from home. Exciting stories and tragic loss from both sides. Hostile environment, hostile opponent, determination and resilience. what makes Britain great? it's all here!

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Brilliant!

Thoroughly enjoyable. This book is a must for anyone interested in British military history or aviation warfare. The narration was also excellent.

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Excellent

Excellent story and narrator. word count word count word count needs 15 words word count

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Everything Harrier

Lots of interesting info about Harrier and the Falklands war. Covers the much wider story of the air war than just the Harrier's (large) part.

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LOVED this book

Couldn’t recommend this more for aviation & military buffs. Technically detailed but not to the point of swamping & boring the reader.
(The performer could have pronounced several words properly: ‘helo’ & ‘material’ to name but two.
Overall well performed though!)

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  • msl70
  • 22-10-20

Falklands Aviation , one of the best I’ve read/ heard.

Finished it in 3 days. Which is something I haven’t done for years.
Have always liked books by this author and this I think is one of his best.
Crammed full of interesting facts and anecdotes. Lots of new information I was unaware of. A must buy for anyone interested in the 1982 conflict.