Home :: Browse All Books :: Military :: Dogfight: The Battle of Britain

Dogfight: The Battle of Britain

Dogfight: The Battle of Britain
Our price:
including GST
Dr Adam Claasen


The Battle of Britain

Dr Adam Classen

Part of the Exisle ANZAC Battles Series

Dogfight tells the story of Australians and New Zealanders in one of World War II’s defining and most memorable campaigns: the Battle of Britain.

"...packed with drama, incident and great characters. Adam Classen has done Second World War history a real service by telling brilliantly the story of the ANZACs' enormous contribution to the greatest air battle ever fought."


From 9 July until 31 October 1940, the German air force (the Luftwaffe) sought aerial supremacy in skies over England as a prerequisite for an invasion of Britain (Operation Sealion). The ensuing conflict of Luftwaffe and RAF aircraft in the long summer of 1940 became forever known as the Battle of Britain.

Of the 574 overseas pilots in the campaign, the New Zealand contingent of 134 airmen was second in size only to the Polish contribution. The Australian involvement, though smaller, was a healthy 37. Of the top ten pilots with the greatest number of victories two were New Zealanders (C. F. Gray and B. Carbury) and one an Australian (P. Hughes). The Anzacs also had a fellow compatriot at the highest level in the Fighter Command system: the highly regarded New Zealander Air Marshal Sir Keith Park, who was instrumental in devising and implementing the integrated air defence of Britain around Spitfire and Hurricane aircraft, radio control and radar. In the spring of 1940, he was given the command of Group 11, which would face the brunt of the German aggression in south-east England. The success of Park’s plans and operational initiatives, and the role played by Anzac pilots and aircrew, would all contribute to the conflict’s eventual successful outcome.


Specifications: 234 x 153mm | 9¼ x 6 in | Paperback | 224 + 8pp insert pages | eBook available


About the author:

Dr Adam Claasen is a senior lecturer in modern history and international relations at Massey University. He has a doctorate from the University of Canterbury, is a Smithsonian Institution fellowship recipient, and in 2006 was a Fulbright Visiting Scholar at Georgetown University, Washington, D.C. He teaches and researches primarily on the Second World War and the rule of air power in war, and  is the author of Hitler’s Northern War.

The Anzac Battles series is a new series from Exisle. Each title in the series describes one of the great military battles fought by Australian and New Zealand soldiers during the wars of the twentieth century. The series has been devised specifically for an Australian and New Zealand readership. 

Series Editor: Glyn Harper




Rich story of battlers

Dogfight: The Battle of Britain
by Dr Adam Claasen
Exisle publishing $34.99 (paperback)
Reviewed by Debbie Walton - Saturday Express, Blenheim Marlborough

The opening sentence sets the scene perfectly: "John Gard'ner was blissfully unaware that he had been spotted by a German formation of fighters." And so begins a rollercoaster ride through the highs and lows of being an ANZAC fighter pilot during the Battle of Britain.

Dogfight: The Battle of Britain tells the story of New Zealanders and Australians in one of World War II's defining and most memorable campaigns. Written by Adam Claasen, a senior lecturer in modern history and international relations at Massey University, Dogfight strikes just the right note. It describes a great military battle fought by ANZACs in both military and very human terms.

Hindsight is a fine thing. The recruitment drive that took place in the 1930s as unease grew over German intentions in Europe now appears cruel in its deceptiveness. The promotion of the idea that a pilot's life would appeal to all men who "wish to adopt an interesting and progressive career" with leave on a "generous scale" makes the career move sound like a walk in the park.

All too soon young men with a sense of adventure were going through recruitment, training and on into battle. The harrowing first-hand accounts of combat and bailing out - if the pilot was able - are riveting; the bravery tempered by losses that accrued. We read of "the telephone bell; orders to scramble; the usual mad rush to the cockpits; a feverish pushing of starter buttons and the roar as twelve Merlins sprang into life".

In the pages of Dogfight' we meet the ANZAC fighter pilots not just in the air, but during their time off, gaining insight into their relationships and time out with friends. There's warmth and humanity in the writing style and the reader is carried along by a sense of excitement and anticipation as the battle unfolds.

The pilot's personal lives - the back stories detailing time off in the pub or mess, the relationships and the fears they harboured all add depth to the account. "A marriage that survived the carnage was not without its own trials... and weddings were abbreviated and spare".

This is the detail that drives home the full force of what these men's lives were like. Written in an engaging style, Dogfight: The Battle of Britain is a gripping read that finishes appropriately - back with retired Group Captain John Gard'ner - one of Churchill's ANZAC 'Few'.


Australian Defence Magazine

Aus defence mag


Contact Air Land and Sea

contact air land and sea

Daily Telegraph

daily telegraph



Gift certificates