Johnnie Johnson – officially the RAF’s top-scoring fighter pilot of the Second World War – is literally a character straight out of the ‘Boy’s Own’. By the wear’s end, this policeman’s son from Leicestershire was a household name, feted by Churchill and Eisenhower. By 1945, Johnnie had scored 38½ aerial victories – all against fighters – and was never himself shot down in over 1000 sorties. Significantly, Johnson possessed the rare gift of a natural leader, charismatic and inspiring confidence in the mould of Douglas Bader, with whom he flew during his formative years as a fighter pilot. Without doubt, ‘Greycap Leader’ was the outstanding RAF fighter leader of the war.
Dilip enjoyed a close friendship with Johnnie over many years, the pair spending hours discussing the great man’s life and times at his home in the Derbyshire peaks. Johnnie was always a crowd-pulling guest at Dilip’s book launches and presentations. Sadly Johnnie died in 2001 – but Dilip’s authorised biography, produced with the support of the Johnson family and friends globally, remains the definitive work on his life and wartime adventures – Spitfire Ace of Aces (Amberley, 2011).
With a vast collection of photographs, many from Johnnie’s personal collection, Dilip’s presentation on the RAF’s greatest fighter pilot brings us close to the man himself – gone but never forgotten.