At the outbreak of the Second World War there were only 27 airfields in the area covered by this book: by the end of hostilities this had grown to a remarkable total of 115. Although removed from the main centres of aerial activity on the East Coast, this part of the country came in for a fair share of the Luftwaffe's attention due to its industrial centres such as Manchester and, of course, Liverpool and Swansea, with their vital docks. Fighter defence was required for these and many and varied aircraft types made their presence felt. In addition, maritime patrols over the Irish Sea were an urgent necessity to protect the life-saving convoys; many American units and aircraft staged through here on their way to the front line; and the area became a major centre for flying training at all levels.
One wartime veteran reminisces: 'Locally, any day could be described as an air display, with aircraft involved in circuits and bumps, navigational flying, fighter affiliation exercises and so on. There would always be a Beaufighter in the area, and no day would be complete without the Lancaster, Halifax, Spitfire and Hurricane. Often a Mosquito would suddenly appear flying fast and low and Lightnings, Thunderbolts and Mustangs would zoom around. Occasionally we saw less common types like the Barracuda and Whirlwind.'
Following introductory chapters on the aviation history and airfield architecture of Wales and the North-West, this book gives an alphabetical listing - with maps and photographs of each airfield in the area, describing the events which took place at each, the aircraft, squadrons and personalities. The author, David Smith, is an air traffic controller and a widely respected aviation historian whose 'Wreckovery' column is a regular feature of Aviation News and whose knowledge of the airfields in this area is second to none.