The Big Show: The Classic Account of WWII Aerial Combat

The Big Show: The Classic Account of WWII Aerial Combat by Pierre Clostermann has been described as the greatest pilot’s memoir of WWII….
Written by
Richard Brown
Published on
27 Jun 2024

The Big Show: The Classic Account of WWII Aerial Combat by Pierre Clostermann has been described as the greatest pilot’s memoir of WWII. From 1942-1945 he flew 432 sorties with the RAF starting in the Supermarine Spitfire and finishing in Hawker Tempest. He is France’s most highly decorated officer and is credited with between 29-33 shoot downs along with hundreds of motor vehicles destroyed, 72 locomotives, and 5 tanks.

If you are used to reading or listening to accounts of American airmen the language used may take a little getting used to, but I found myself smiling every time I heard him say “drop your babies,” the command to drop external fuel tanks before engaging the enemy. His descriptions of the flying are so engaging you feel as if you are there in the cockpit with him.

He flew fighter sweeps, airfield attacks, and engaged in dogfights from high altitude to tree top level. Then there are his accounts of scud running at over 400mph… The high altitude dogfights are engaging to listen to, but the low level fights just above the trees and through towns are gripping.

Originally published in 1951 just after the end of the war, it feels like the “fresh account” of the action which it certainly was when written. I had a hard  time tearing myself away from this one and dare I say was sad when the war ended because the stories were done. 

The Big Show: The Classic Account of WWII Aerial Combat by Pierre Clostermann

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The Big Show: The Classic Account of WWII Aerial Combat

The Big Show: The Classic Account of WWII Aerial Combat by Pierre Clostermann has been described as the greatest pilot's memoir of WWII....
Richard Brown

27 Jun 2024

Subscribe to our newsletter

Stay informed and inspired! Sign up for my monthly newsletter to receive my latest posts, stories, and exclusive updates straight to your inbox. (I will never share or sell your information)

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