Share this story Share on Facebook icon Share on Twitter icon Share on Pinterest icon Share on Google Plus icon Share on Linked In icon Share via Email icon

Spitfire Singh


Despite their heroics during World War I, the British officers of the Royal Air Force did not believe that pilots from India were capable of waging war from the air. They were considered inferior, and the fledgling Indian Air Force (IAF) was equipped with outdated machines and forced to operate in impossible working conditions.

Harjinder Singh, a determined orphan, entered this military world in mid-1930s as a lowly sepoy, and yet thanks to his courage, determination and sheer skill, he enjoyed a meteoric rise over three decades of service, becoming one of the leading figures of the IAF – a thrilling career that spanned World War II, Indian independence and the carnage of Partition.

Using an extensive collection of personal diaries, notes and letters with a thread of humour throughout, Spitfire Singh unleashes this untold story – one of mutual respect forged and strengthened across lines of religion, caste, creed and race.

Harjinder Singh’s life was one of relentless adventure, from the scrublands of the North Western Frontier and battling the Japanese in the Burmese jungle in outdated equipment, to UK on the eve of D-Day and the corridors of power in an independent India.

A highly skilled engineer, Singh designed, built and test flew two different aircraft, and rebuilt two bomber squadrons from scrap, all to prove that the IAF could become self-sufficient. His efforts and stubborn refusal to quit helped make the IAF the 4th largest in the world, an astonishing feat given the twin challenges of nation-building and partition.

Spitfire Singh is available in paperback format for £12.99 from Bloomsbury. ISBN 978-9-3861-4161-3.


Catch up on militaria news, order a back issue of The Armourer, or pick up the latest issue, in either print or digital format. Like what you see? Why not take out a subscription, save money and have it delivered to your door.

Back to News & Articles

28/11/2017 Share this story   Share on Facebook icon Share on Twitter icon Share on Pinterest icon Share on Google Plus icon Share on Linked In icon Share via Email icon

Recent Updates

What’s on at the NAM in April

Here are the special exhibitions and events that are running in April at the National Army Museum in Chelsea, ...

Do you know any WWII veterans?

The travel arm of the Royal British Legion is on a mission to find all surviving veterans of WWII. ...

Isle of Man PO introduces stamps to mark RAF centenary

The illustrious 100 years of RAF history is commemorated through a special collection of stamps. ...

RAF centenary at Cotswold Airport

An Easter programme of events is planned at Cotsworld Airport to celebrate 100 years of the RAF. ...

Other Articles

Life in the trenches

New show for 2018 season from the Combined Ops Reminisce Workshop Group. ...

What’s on at the NAM in March

Here’s what’s coming up at the National Army Museum, based in Chelsea, London in the month of March. ...

Officer’s mess chair

Something for the collector who has everything, a sumptuous chair with a vintage uniform. ...

Forces re-united in Liverpool bunker

A business lunch in Liverpool saw the three services in the wartime bunker for the first time since 1945. ...