The dominant position of the C-47 in American transport units means that this book is effectively a history of the airborne aspects of every major Allied offensive of the Second World War from Operation Torch to the crossing of the Rhine. In the intervening period C-47s were used in the invasions of Sicily and Italy, on D-Day, in the invasion of southern France and in Operation Market Garden.
The early attacks were marred by over-ambitious plans, which failed to take into account the lack of experience of many of the C-47 crews and the realistic limits of night-time navigation.
Isby's book makes clear just how quickly Allied capabilities expanded between the end of 1942, when a handful of aircraft flew from bases in Britain to take part in Operation Torch, to the summer of 1943 when well over 300 C-47s took part in the invasion of Sicily, and on to June 1944, when over 1,200 C-47s took part in Operation Overlord. The peculiar problem faced by the Troop Carrier Groups was that this massive expansion was not accompanied by a regular series of smaller operations in which experience could be gained. Large scale rehearsals could be carried out, but as Isby makes clear they couldn't make up for a lack of experience.
This is perhaps the most valuable feature of this book - many accounts of the operations involved refer to lost gliders or scattered paratrooper drops, without attempting to explain why this happened. The text is well supported with first hand accounts of these operations, and with a good selection of photographs.
Appendices: complete list of C-47/ R4D units, scale drawing, notes on the colour plates.
Author: David Isby