Air Combat – Dogfights of World War II, ed. Tony Holmes

Air Combat – Dogfights of World War II, ed. Tony Holmes

This book is a collection of four existing Osprey volumes, looking at a serious of important clashes between Allied and Axis fighter aircraft across the main fronts of the war. As a result the four sections are different in style, and to be honest in the important of their topic.

We start with a less familiar part of the battle between the Luftwaffe and the RAF – the generally unsuccessful attempt to ‘lean over the Channel’ in 1941-2, which saw the Spitfire II and much improved Spitfire V face the Bf 109F, probably the best basic version of that fighter, on what had become home territory for the Germans. As a result the RAF suffered much heavier losses than the Germans, and failed in their efforts to pin down German fighter units in the west. This is an interesting start, although does examine a fairly minor part of the air war.

We then move onto one of the key clashes of the war in the Pacific, between the all-conquering Zero and the F4F Wildcat, the best carrier fighter available to the Americans during the crucial early battles in the Pacific. This is a look at how good American tactics eventually overcame the technical superiority of the Zero, picking on the few weaknesses of the Zero, including its light construction and lack of armour to make up for its amazing speed, range and manoeuvrability. This is probably the most important of the clashes covered in this book, as it covers some of the most important carrier battles of the Pacific War.

Part three moves onto the Eastern Front. In this case the book only looks at one part of a larger fighter battle – in this case between the best of the Soviet fighters – the La-7 – and the good but scarce Fw 190. Although this was an important clash, both sides fielded other key fighters, and in the case of the Germans the later versions of the Bf 109 were always present in larger numbers. As a result we get a picture of one part of a battle.

The final part is similar, in that it looks at the fairly limited number of clashes between two of the best fighters of the Pacific War – the F4U Corsair and Ki-84 Frank. On the US side the Corsair was one of three key fighter aircraft in 1945, with the F4F and F6F also present in large numbers. For the Japanese the Ki-84 was only one of a wide range of fighter types in use towards the end of the war. As a result one key part of the book is an examination of the recorded clashes between the two types to see how many actually involved the Ki-84.

If you are interested in the topic, then this book covers a good cross section of the many clashes between different fighters during the Second World War. It is also good value for money compared to buying all four of the separate books (indeed checking prices on Amazon it is cheaper than buying any two), so also long as you are aware that you might have some of this content already, it’s well worth getting.

I – Channel Clashes: Spitfire II/V vs Bf 109F, Tony Holmes
II – Hell in the Pacific: F4F Wildcat vs A6M Zero-sen, Edward M. Young
III – Air War in the East: La-5/7 vs Fw 190, Dmitriy Khazanov and Aleksander Medved
IV – Ill-Fated Defence of the Home Islands: F4U Corsair vs Ki-84 ‘Frank’, Edward M Young

Editor: Tony Holmes
Edition: Hardcover
Publisher: Osprey

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