Osprey Aviation Editor since 1989, Tony Holmes is a native of Fremantle, Western Australia. Responsible for devising the Aircraft of the Aces, Combat Aircraft and Aviation Elite Units series, Tony has also written more than 25 books for Osprey in the past 17 years. Awarded the Tailhook Association's contributor of the year award last year for his coverage of Operation Iraqi Freedom, he has written four books in the last 18 months in the Combat Aircraft series. His latest book, F-14 Tomcat Units of Operation Enduring Freedom is out this month.
What are you doing at the moment?
Trying to write several magazine articles that have been on the backburner whilst struggling to keep various Osprey titles that I have been editing on schedule.
When did you get hooked on history and why?
I grew up surrounded by model and full-size aircraft as my father was in the Royal Australian Air Force and then subsequently worked in civil aviation, and my grandfathers had seen combat in World War 2 in the RAF and the Royal Marines, respectively. Listening to war stories from my grandparents, reading Commando and Battle comics, leafing through my father's large collection of avitaion periodicals and books and avidly watching films on the television effectively fed my history 'habit'.
If you were any warrior from history who would you be?
A humble sergeant pilot flying a Hurricane or Spitfire in No. 11 Group in the summer of 1940, preferably with pre-war flying experience so that I had a better chance of surviving to see Christmas!
What is your favourite war film?
The Battle of Britain, followed closely by The Eagle Has Landed. I know that you have not asked for this, but my least favourite by some considerable margin is Michael Bay's Pearl Harbor, even though the truly luscious Kate Beckinsale does her utmost to keep us men folk entertained during the 183-minute historical howler.
Why do you think Military History is important?
Surely people have to have some understanding of how our everyday lives in the 21st century have been shaped by conflict, rather than by 'Celebrity Bum Swap' or some other equally asinine reality garbage that seems to fill our TV screens and newspaper pages these days? A healthy interest in military history also helps me pay my mortgage!
What is your favourite quote from history / historical quote?
Legendary German fighter ace Oberstleutnant Adolf Galland's reply to Reichsmarschall Herman Goering's question on 2 September 1940 as to what the Commander-in-Chief of the Luftwaffe could do to help Galland's unit prevail in the Battle of Britain. "I should like an outfit of Spitfires for my Jagdgeschwader."
If you could fly any plane or drive any tank from history, which would it be?
A late-war Spitfire F XIV - the fastest frontline piston-engined fighter of World War 2.
Best military cock-up in history?
Speaking from a purely aeronautical perspective, the Italian Regia Aeronautica's rather half-hearted, and very late, contribution to the Luftwaffe's efforts to win the Battle of Britain take some beating.
Who is you military hero?
Any pilot who climber into a Hurricane or Spitfire and took on the might of the Luftwaffe druing the summer of 1940 (see a theme developing here?!)
If you could pit two armies from history against each other, which two would you pick, and why?
Again, looking at this with my aviation editor's hat on, I think Finnish fighter pilots in Bf 109Gs taking on Jagdwaffe pilots on the Eastern Front in the summer of 1943 in the same Messerschmitt fighters would make for a fascinating contest. The Finns were amongst the very best fighter pilots of World War 2, and their German counterparts were at the very top of their game in support of the massive tank battles in the Crimea in the hot summer of 1943.
Elephants or horses? Discuss the pros and cons...
Give me something with a liquid-cooled Rolls Royce Griffon engine driving a five-bladed propeller any day!
Favourite Michael Caine quote?
"You'll be in a barrel if you don't look out for fighters". Sqn Ldr Canfield admonishes one of his young pilots as they wade into seemingly defenceless Stukas attacking radar sites on the south coast during The Battle of Britain.
What is your favourite war comic?
Without a doubt Commando, especially those with an aviation theme - I had dozens of them in my collection whilst growing up as a kid in far off Western Australia.
Spartan or Roman?
Not too good on my ancients I'm afraid, as very few of them learned to fly.
What is your favourite Osprey book?
Anything written by John Weal or Greg VanWyngarden.
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