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Principal of Vincent Aviation Publications, Aussie baby boomer David Vincent, has been interested in the aircraft of the Second World War as long as he can remember. His father and his father’s two brothers all served in the wartime RAAF and David believes this connection was the catalyst for his interest. An early recollection was being taken by his parents to see the film The Dam Busters (circa 1956), and by the age of 10 he was collecting cuttings of WW II aircraft and assembling plastic model aircraft kits. David later started researching new information and photos relating to his interest and became a keen contributor to historical aviation magazines and, later, books.

His first foray into researching and publishing a book began in 1975 after attending an Adelaide reunion of the Catalina Club, a group of former RAAF personnel who had served in Catalina units. All of the veterans he spoke to were surprised that no book had yet been published that covered the history of RAAF Catalinas, despite an illustrious history which saw these lumbering flying boats being used on bombing attacks, long range reconnaissance flights and, later, minelaying against the Japanese, not to mention air sea rescue work. David worked on a tribute to the aircraft and its crews which he subsequently published in 1978 after approaching a couple of disinterested mainstream publishers. Entitled Catalina Chronicle: A History of RAAF Operations, this book was launched at the first national Catalina Club reunion held in Australia, at Swan Hill, Victoria. Although only a small book (128 pages) it was well-received and went to a second edition in 1981.

By that time David was nearing the end of a second work dealing with the ‘Mossie’, the all-wooden de Havilland Mosquito multi-role combat aircraft which had been used particularly effectively in air operations over Europe. This second book, Mosquito Monograph: A History of Mosquitoes in Australia and RAAF Operations, published in 1982, covered the history of the two RAAF squadrons based in England, Australian production of this aircraft and told the story for the first time in any detail of the RAAF Mosquitoes operated against the Japanese and the top secret but non-operational No. 618 Squadron RAF. This book was about twice the size of Catalina Chronicle and was also well-received; as recently as 2008 the chapter on the history of No. 1 Photographic Reconnaissance Unit/No. 87 Squadron RAAF was used in a squadron history by the new No. 87 Squadron which had reformed two years earlier.

It was decided early on that the next project would be Lockheed Hudsons in Australia and RAAF operations (simply because no one had looked at this aircraft’s Aussie connections in detail) but with so many units equipped with this type clearly more time would be needed to be spent on researching the subject matter. In the end more time was certainly spent on researching the subject matter – about 20 years more in fact – but the end would appear to have justified the means.

With the completion of the two volume Hudson history, plans are now a foot for a comprehensive pictorial volume illustrating aspects of nose art (pinups and other unofficial nose markings) on USAAF and RAAF aircraft in the South West Pacific Area 1942–1945. Most of the photographs for this book have already been obtained, but David would still like to hear from any interested parties who may have material to offer.

Image above: As an early indicator of David's interest in air force history, here he is, far left, photographed examining a "high-altitude flying suit with helmet for canopy ejection" with friends Brian Anderson (second from left) and Ken Winn (far right) and Ken's brother Trevor at an air force association display of the history of flying held in Adelaide in September 1959.


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