In Review: Fleetway Picture Library Classics – Air War Stories

Fleetway Picture Library Classics - Air War Stories - Cover
Out next year: Tacconi’s Air War Stories (Fleetway Picture Library Classics)

Authors: Various
Artists: Ferdinando Tacconi, Nino Caroselli, Graham Coton
Publisher: Book Palace Books, April 2020
Number of pages: 272
Format: Flexi Cover; Black & White illustrations
Size: 6″ x 8″ (165mm x 215mm)
ISBN: 9781907081897 | Book Palace (including Preview) | AmazonUK (Affiliate Link)

The Book: Originally published in War Picture Library 49 and Air Ace Picture Library 11, 37 and 54, these four stories showcase the art of the great Ferdinando Tacconi. His style is immediately recognisable, with a very clear linework and some interesting curly cues done in pen and ink.

Tacconi wisely used an uncluttered linework that, with the passage of time, became more and more limited to the essential. The care he applied to the environment and details of each panel he drew, especially in his way of presenting vehicles or his beloved aircraft, made him one of the top artists around the world.

In fact, Tacconi would never hide his deep love for flying machines, which accompanied him throughout his career, both inside and outside the comic pages he drew.

The Review – by Norman Boyd: This is the second of this series I’ve read – and thoroughly enjoyed! All of these four 60-year-old plus stories are illustrated by Ferdinando Tacconi, and there’s a brief biography at the front and selected bibliography of his British comics work.

Fleetway Picture Library Classics - Air War Stories - Broken Wings

In “Broken Wings“, Donald Fleming, a hot-headed enthusiastic flyer learns with his father, a World War One ace pilot. His own World War Two career shows his recklessness but also his bravery and his sacrifice. He learns that he matches up to his father in the end.

Fleetway Picture Library Classics - Air War Stories - Scramble

Scramble!” was my favourite of the collection, only because I lived in Malta as a kid and knew the history of the second “Siege of Malta”, which led to the whole island’s award of the George Cross. This portrayal of the hardships and sacrifice focuses on the pilots encountering German and Italian bombers and fighters.

Fleetway Picture Library Classics - Air War Stories - Last of the Gladiators

Last of the Gladiators” tells the tale of how a fondness for and the obsession with retaining an ‘old’ style of plane pays off in the end, accompanying Atlantic convoys and in the fight being taken to Norway.

Fleetway Picture Library Classics - Air War Stories - Target Tirpitz

Target Tirpitz” needs no introduction as it’s a well known story of the attempts made to sink the German’s battleship. The story takes us from south England to Scotland to Russia and finally to Norway.

Tacconi’s artwork has grown on me since my childhood, and these examples show how a confident artist can add so much to war stories (that would usually bore me) and make them into entertaining tales which send me searching for more information on these incidents.

Norman Boyd

Buy Air War Stories from AmazonUK (Affiliate Link)

Air War Stories on Book Palace (including Preview)

Fleetway Picture Library Classics on Book Palace

  • War Picture Library #49 first published May 1960. Cover art by Nino Caroselli
  • Air Ace Picture Library #11 first published June 1960. Cover art by Graham Coton
  • Air Ace Picture Library #37 first published January 1961. Cover art by Nino Caroselli
  • Air Ace Picture Library #54 first published June 1961. Cover art by Nino Caroselli


The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Explorer (previously known as Star Trek Magazine) and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of "Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies" for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.

Categories: British Comics, British Comics - Collections, downthetubes Comics News, downthetubes News, Features, Reviews

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

%d bloggers like this: