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Beaufighter Aces of World War 2 by Andrew Thomas, Osprey Publishing, Oxford, England, $19.95.

Looking like a pug-nosed Bristol Blenheim with an attitude, the Bristol Beaufighter seemed every inch the hybrid bomber-turnedfighter that it was. Hardly the epitome of speed and maneuverability, it still offered enough of both to serve as a formidable night fighter, when one combined its four Hispano 20mm cannons and six Browning .303-inch machine guns—the most powerful armament packed by any Allied fighter of World War II—with radar.

Cobbled together though it was, the “Beau” entered Royal Air Force service at the right time. The German Luftwaffe had just begun night bombing attacks on London and other British cities when Sergeant Arthur Hodgkinson of No. 219 Squadron claimed a Dornier bomber for the first of the new fighter’s many victories.

The 65th in Osprey’s “Aircraft of the Aces” series, Beaufighter Aces of World War 2 covers the career of an unlikely looking but nonetheless versatile weapon that played an important role throughout the conflict in defense of Britain, Malta and Egypt, and ravaged enemy shipping from the English Channel to the coast of New Guinea. Andrew Thomas does the plane and its crews justice on all fronts, backed by a wealth of photographs and 30 color profiles that reflect the varied environments under which it fought.