Books on War in the Air: Second World War

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Books - War in the Air - Second World War

SBD Dauntless vs A6M Zero-Sen: Pacific Theatre 1941-44, Donald Nijboer. A look at the clashes between the most successful American dive bomber of the Pacific War and by far the most important Japanese naval fighter of the conflict, covering both the Zero’s effectiveness at stopping the SPD carrying out attacks, and the ability of the SPD to stand up to the Zero in air to air combat. Starts with a great deal of technical and general background before moving onto detailed examinations of the direct clashes between the two types, using sources from both sides to present a realistic view of their successes and failures (Read Full Review)
Air War Varsity, Martin W. Bowman. A look at the final major airborne operation on the western front in the Second World War, Montgomery’s truly massive crossing of the Rhine around Wesel which combined a traditional river crossing with paratroopers and gliderborne troops, to break the last serious German defensive position on the northern part of the front, opening the way for the final advance across northern Germany to the Baltic. Mainly built around eyewitness accounts from survivors of the attack, combined with a brief narrative of events (Read Full Review)
Heroes of Coastal Command – the RAF’s Maritime War 1939-1945, Andrew D. Bird. A series of short biographies of Coastal Command pilots that gives some idea of how varied the command’s roles were, covering operations from the Bay of Biscay to the Arctic north, and the Channel Coast to Norway. Also gives a more sobering idea of just how high the costs were of the Coastal Command campaign, with several of the men covered not surviving the war, and all of the accounts including a regular death toll. (Read Full Review)
P-47 Thunderbolt vs German Flak Defences: Western Europe 1943-45, Jonathan Bernstein. An examination of the P-47 and the various Flak guns used against it in the European theatre, the organisation of the Flak batteries and Fighter Groups, the strategic situation they were caught up, and their actual combat record in 1944-45, from pre D-Day sweeps across occupied France to the final advance into Germany. A clear example of a duel with a winner, as the Allied fighter bombers roamed almost at will across the battlefield (Read Full Review)
The Ruhr 1943: The RAF’s brutal fight for Germany’s industrial heartland, Richard Worrall. An excellent account of RAF Bomber Command’s attack on the Ruhr in the first half of 1943, the first campaign in which Bomber Command emerged as a truly effective weapon, inflicting heavy damage on one of Germany’s industrial heartlands, although with an uncertain impact.  Looks at the equipment available to both sides, the organisation of the German defences, and the conduct of the actual raids, finishing with a good examination of the possible impact of the raids (Read Full Review)
Douglas XB-19 – America’s Giant World War II Intercontinental Bomber, William Wolf. A look at the Douglas XB-19, the USAAF’s largest bomber from 1941 to 1946, but one that was obsolete by the time it made its first flight. Examines the still impressive aircraft in great detail, making it clear how much of a technical achievement it was, and looking at how it contributed to the development of the engines used on the B-29 (Read Full Review)
Dornier Do 217 Units of World War 2, Chris Goss. Actually a chronologically organised operational history of the Do 217, with the main focus being on its use as a bomber over Britain and as an anti-shipping weapon using the first guided missiles. The result is an interesting look at the record of a bomber that entered service after the Luftwaffe’s bomber forces had passed their peak, and that suffered consistent losses during operations that often don’t get a mention in general histories of the war(Read Full Review)
Japanese Aircraft of World War II 1937-1945, Thomas Newdick. A useful shorter reference work looking at the combat aircraft fielded by the Japanese during the Second World War, along with those jet and rocket powered aircraft that got closest to being completed. A useful guide to the aircraft of the Japanese Army and Navy, a key element in the rapid expansion of Japanese power, and in the increasingly desperate defence of their expanded Empire as the war turned against them. Organised by type of aircraft, with enough information on each type for the general reader, and longer sections on key aircraft such as the Zero (Read Full Review)
Combat over the Mediterranean, Chris Goss. Focuses largely on the RAF’s anti-shipping missions, using the gun camera photographs taken during actual attacks to give a vivid picture of this important part of the war in the Mediterranean. Focuses largely on No.252 Squadron, as the pictures came from the collection of Dennis Butler, who commandeered the squadron twice during the war. Often includes a whole series of pictures from the same attack, giving us an unparalleled view of events as they happened(Read Full Review)
We Killed Yamamoto, Si Sheppard. Looks at one of the most famous air attacks of the entire Second World War, the P-38 strike that killed Admiral Yamamoto, one of the key targets for the US after his role in the attack on Pearl Harbor. Includes good material on code breaking and its role in the war to that date, the decision to carry out the raid, the planning and the raid, and finally the long running controversy about which pilot actually shot down Yamamoto (Read Full Review)
The Desert Air Force in World War II - Air Power in the Western Desert 1940-1942, Ken Delve. A very detailed examination of the day-by-day experiences of the British and Empire aircrew who fought in North Africa, from the early victorious campaigns against the Italians, through the back-and-fore period against Rommel, ending with the defensive battles deep inside Egypt, the highpoint of Rommel’s advance towards the Nile. Does include brief overviews of the strategic situation, but focuses very much on the day-to-day personal memories of the aircrew(Read Full Review)
The Petlyakov Pe-2 – Stalin’s Succesful Red Air Force Light Bomber, Peter C. Smith. Looks at the development and career of the Petlyakov Pe-2, the most important Soviet twin engined bomber of the Second World War, and a successful dive bomber that played a major role in the fighting on the Eastern Front. Includes very detailed sections on the development of the aircraft, as well as its combat record, potted biographies of many of the key Pe-2 pilots, and its fairly brief post-war career. Sometimes exaggerates the significant and performance of the Pe-2, but is otherwise excellent. (Read Full Review)
Eagles over the Sea 1936-42, A History of Luftwaffe Maritime Operations, Lawrence Paterson. Looks at the origins of German naval air power during the First World War, its revival in the 1930s, the first combat tests of the Spanish Civil War and its role in the key battles during the first half of the Second World War, a period that included the battle of Norway, the battle of Britain, the forced German intervention in the Mediterranean, the battle of the Atlantic, the Arctic convoys and the period of most German success on the Eastern Front, all campaigns that involved naval aviation in some way (Read Full Review)
Malta Strikes Back - The Role of Malta in the Mediterranean Theatre 1940-1942, Ken Delve. Looks at the wider role of Malta during the defensive period of the war in the Mediterranean, a period normally dominated by accounts of the siege and the constant air attacks. Here we also get the offensive role of the island, the function that made Malta so valuable to the British cause. The focus is on the air war – this is part two of a three part history of the air war in the Mediterreanean – so we learn about the medium bombers and torpedo bombers based on the island, sometimes operating in the middle of some of the heaviest enemy bombing(Read Full Review)
Air Combat – Dogfights of World War II, ed. Tony Holmes. A collection of four Ospreys, looking at the Spitfire vs Bf 109, F4F Wildcat vs A6M Zero, La 5/7 vs Fw 190 and F4U Corsair vs Ki-84 Frank, an interesting cross section of the fighter battles of the Second World War. Some are more crucial than others, but all are interesting, and the book costs less than buying any two of the existing volumes, so is good value for money (Read Full Review)
Bombers Fly East - WWII Operations in the Middle & Far East, Martin W. Bowman. A variety of stories of bomber operations over the Mediterranean, eastern Europe, North Africa, the Middle and Far East (despite the title), covering quite a range of missions and different aspects of the bomber campaign. Some are based on the memoirs of a single individual, others are more general histories of part of the air war, so there is quite a bit of variety, and the stories themselves are generally very interesting (Read Full Review)
F4U Corsair vs Ki-84 'Frank' Pacific Theatre 1945, Edward M. Young. Looks at the development of these two advanced fighters, the training of their pilots and the handful of clashes between the two types – only around twenty in total, mainly over the Japanese Home Islands and Okinawa. Includes good sections on the development of the two fighters, the training of their pilots, with a detailed look at the limited number of clashes between them. An interesting read that does demonstrate some of the flaws in some entries in this series, in this case that the clash being examined wasn’t an especially important part of the overall battle in the air (Read Full Review)
Fighters over the Fleet – Naval Air Defence from Biplanes to the Cold War, Norman Friedman. A history of naval air defence from the First World War to the present day, looking at the systems used to control air defence, and the aircraft and weapons involved. Gets a bit bogged down in post-war aircraft design, but otherwise a detailed but readable account of a remarkably complex topic that has dominated fleet design since the Second World War, covering an impressive wide range of topics over a century of naval aviation. [read full review]
J2M Raiden and N1K1/2 Shiden/ Shiden-Kai Aces, Yasuho Izawa with Tony Holmes. Looks at the limited careers of three late Japanese Navy interceptors of the Second World War, tracing their development and performance in combat. Includes an interesting account of the combat record of the 343rd Kokutai under Genda Minoru, a late war Japanese leader who didn't believe that the kawikaze ramming attack was the best way to attack American bombers. [read full review]
Operation Oyster: World War II's Forgotten Raid, Kees Rijken, Paul Schepers, Arthur Thorning. Looks at a complex low level raid on the Philips Radio Works at Eindhoven, carried out in daylight by a mixed force of Mosquitos, Venturas and Bostons. Covers the full range of the mission, from the original reasons for the attack, the planning, the mission itself, losses on both sides, the damage done to the factory and the civilian casualties in Eindhoven [read full review]
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Images of War: RAF Fighter Pilots over Burma, Norman Franks. Focuses very much on the pilots, with most pictures showing pilots on the ground, in their cockpits or even in the bath. Supported by excellent captions that trace the careers of the pilots and useful chapter introductions that set the scene. Also includes useful pictures of RAF airfields and a good selection of aircraft on the ground, but will be of most value for the collection of pictures of pilots. [read full review]
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Fabled Fifteen - The Pacific War Saga of Carrier Air Group 15, Thomas McKelvey Cleaver. A history of probably the most successful US Carrier Air Group of the Second World War (despite only serving on the front line for seven months), which fought at the battles of the Philippine Sea and Leyte Gulf, helped sink the battleship Musashi and carrier Zuikaku, and whose fighter squadron had more 'aces' than combat losses. [read full review]
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Unsung Eagles - True Stories of America's Citizen Airmen in the Skies of World War II, Lt. Col (Ret) Jay A. Scout. A series of short biographies of twenty two US airmen of the Second World War, largely in their own words, covering a very wide range of topics from US-bases training to operations in China, Europe, North Africa and the Pacific. [read full review]
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Japanese Military Aircraft - Special Units of the Japanese Army, Eduardo Cea. Looks at the smaller air units of the Imperial Japanese Army which performed a wide variety of functions from basic training to active fighter defence and army co-operation duties. Each unit gets a brief history, supported by colour side-plans showing paint schemes and identification marks. [read full review]
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The Fear in the Sky: Vivid Memories of Operational Aircrews in World War Two, Pat Cunningham. Ten mini-memoirs written by operational aircrew who fought in a variety of different roles during the Second World War, including bomber command, night fighters, met flights, torpedo bombers and covering a mix of duties, including pilots, navigators, gunners, engineers and wireless operators. Most also give a brief summary of their post-war lives and reflect on their earlier exploits. [read full review]
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The WAAF at War, John Frayn Turner. First-hand accounts of the achievements of the WAAFs, organised by topic and supported by a good connecting text. The range of duties carried out by WAAFs is very impressive and ranges from the famous plotting rooms of the Battle of Britain to ferry pilots and even SOE agents. [read full review]
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Fogg in the Cockpit, Richard and Janet Fogg. The wartime diary of Howard Fogg, later a famous railroad artist, but then a US fighter pilot based in Britain and engaged in the long range escort of American bombers. Fogg's diary is supported by the monthly reports of the official Group Historian, so events are seen from two points of view. [read full review]

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Fighter Operations in Europe and North Africa, 1939-1945, David Wragg. Mainly focuses on the clash between the RAF and the Luftwaffe, looking at the fighting in France in 1940, the Battle of Britain, the war in the desert, Sicily, Italy and the campaign from D-Day to the end of the war. Also includes a very brief chapter on the Eastern Front [read full review]
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Operation 'Overlord' June-September 1944: Volume 2: USAAF Eight and Ninth Air Forces, Neil Robinson and Peter Scott. A detailed pictorial study of the paint schemes and markings of the aircraft of the 8th and 9th Air Forces during the period of the D-Day landings and the battle of Normandy, complete with a background history of the two air force and their orders of battle in 1944. [read full review]
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Operation 'Overlord' June-September 1944: Volume 1 RAF & Commonwealth Air Force plus Luftflotte 3, Neil Robinson & Jon Freeman. A guide to the colour schemes and markings used by the aircraft of 2nd Tactical Air Force, Air Defence of Great Britain and Luftflotte 3 during Operation Overlord. A useful introduction is followed by a huge number of illustrations showing each type of aircraft and each squadron, each with an explanation of what we are seeing. [read full review]
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An Airline at War, Robert L. Willet. A history of the China National Aviation Corporation, a joint venture between Pan Am and the Chinese Government. The airline struggled against Japanese aggression, poor facilities, the Communists and the terrain, but managed to survive for 20 years, playing a massive part in the development of the 'Hump' - the air route across the Himalayas that was the only way to get supplies into China for much of the Second World War. [read full review]

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Air War over Kursk - Turning Point in the East, Dmitriy B. Khazanov. A detailed examination of the epic clash between the Luftwaffe and the Soviet Air Force in the skies of Kursk, with a slight emphasis on the Soviet experience and some good attempts to reconcile the often contradictory evidence about the battle [read full review]
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The Right of the Line: The Role of the RAF in World War Two, John Terraine. This is the classic account of the RAF's role in the Second World War, a massive piece of work that focuses on the main threads of the air war, from pre-war preparations to the final victory in Europe, through the Battles of Britain and the Atlantic and the long and costly strategic bombing campaign. An essential read on an crucial part of the war [read full review]
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One Pilot's War - The Battle of Britain and Beyond, W.A. Wilkinson. The very readable autobiography of a pre-war RAF volunteer, tracing his progress from the workshops at Cranwell to the cockpit of a Hurricane during the battle of France and the battle of Britain, long patrols over the Irish Sea and finally a career as an instructor. [read full review]
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Devotion to a Calling: Far-east flying and survival with 62 Squadron, RAF, Group Captain Harley Boxall and Joe Bamford. A mix of autobiography and biography tracing the career of Group Captain Harley Boxall from his pre-war training, to the Far East in 1939, through the chaotic events of the Japanese invasion of Malaya and on to his later career in the RAF [read full review]
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Battle of Britain

To Defeat the Few, Douglas C. Dildy and Paul F. Crickmore. A look at the Battle of Britain as seen from the German point of view, looking at what the Luftwaffe was attempting to achieve at each stage of the battle, how their plans were formed and implemented and what each individual raid was trying to achieve. This is a very useful approach to the battle, showing us its familiar events consistently from a different angle, (Read Full Review)
The Battle of Britain, Kate Moore. Differs from most books on the topic by dedicating half of its length to the background to the battle - the nature of the two air forces, the aircraft they used, their organisation at the start of the battle, and the German victories of 1939-40 and the role of air power in them. Then moves on to a good but fairly standard account of the battle, supported by eyewitness accounts and pictures from the Imperial War Museum archives (Read Full Review)

The Battle of Britain, Adam Powley. A good introduction to the topic, covering a wide range of topics than many short books on the Battle of Britain, including good material on the impact of the Blitz and earlier daylight raids on London, and the successes of the German attacks on the coastal airfields during the most dangerous period of the battle. [read full review]
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Images of War: The Few - Preparation for the Battle of Britain, Philip Kaplan. Covers a wider period that the title might make you expect, from the pre-war period to the point where the Luftwaffe switched from attacks on airfields to the attack on London. Has a different feel to other books on the topic, including poetry and a focus on the terrible strain suffered at the airfields subjected to heaviest attack and by the pilots themselves. [read full review]
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Dogfight - The Battle of Britain, Adam Claasen. Focuses on the contribution of New Zealanders and Australians during the Battle of Britain, looking at the exploits of many of the 171 Anzacs who fought with Fighter Command during the battle. Built around accounts of the individual pilot's activities supported by a wider historical framework, this provides an interesting cross-section of Fighter Command's activities. [read full review]
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The Battle of Britain, John Frayn Turner. A account of the battle of Britain centred around a day-by-day account of the fighting, and with a bias towards Leigh Mallory, Douglas Bader and the 'Big Wing'. A refreshing change from some of the drier recent works on the battle, although presenting one particular view of events. [read full review]
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Luftwaffe - General

The Luftwaffe and the War at Sea 1939-1945, ed. David Isby. Looks at the rivalry between the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe over control of all air activities over the sea, with both sides attempting to claim the right to control all aircraft operating over the sea and coastal areas, a battle very easily won by Goering’s Luftwaffe, and how that battle impacted on German naval activities and the battle of the Atlantic. Both sides come across as somewhat delusional, making unjustifiable claims, and showing the entirely typical desire of the Third Reich’s armed forces of finding someone else to blame for their failures (Read Full Review)
Eagles over the Sea 1943-45 – A History of Luftwaffe Maritime Operations, Lawrence Paterson. Part two of a study of German maritime operations looks at the years of decline, which saw the Luftwaffe lose control of the skies over the Bay of Biscay, suffer during the retreat on the Eastern Front, and entirely fail to contribute to the defence against Operation Overlord, but also a period in which it still had teeth, and inflicted some losses on the Allied fleets supporting the landings at Salerno and Anzio. At the same time the author traces the rise in the political influence of the Navy, after one of Hitler’s favourites Donitz replaced Raeder as commander-in-chief while Goring lost influence after failing to supply Stalingrad or to stop the increasingly heavy Allied bombing of Germany(Read Full Review)
Luftwaffe Training Aircraft – The Training of Germany’s Pilots and Aircrew through rare archive photographs, Chris Goss. A comprehensive photographic study of the many types of aircraft used to train the Luftwaffe during the Second World War. Good quality pictures and useful captions, but could have done with brief introductions to each aircraft. A good selection of photographs covering a wide range of aircraft, with useful individual captions (Read Full Review)
Aircraft of the Luftwaffe 1935-1945, Jean-Denis G.G. Lepage. Combines a good background history of the Luftwaffe with a comprehensive examination of its aircraft, from the biplanes of the mid 1930s to the main wartime aircraft and on to the seemingly unending range of experimental designs that wasted so much effort towards the end of the war. A useful general guide that provides an impressively wide range of information on almost every element of the Luftwaffe (Read Full Review)
Captured Eagles - Secrets of the Luftwaffe, Frederick A. Johnsen. Looks at American efforts to understand the Luftwaffe, from wartime intelligence efforts, through the hunt for Luftwaffe assets in occupied Europe and the post-war use of German and Austrian scientists to advance American research projects. Makes some interesting points about the short-lived value of German wartime research, and the greater contribution made by the captured scientists. [read full review]
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Luftwaffe Mistel Composite Bomber Units, Robert Forsyth . Starts with a brief look at the pre-war origins of the idea of guiding one aircraft from another one mounted above it, before moving on to the German development of this into a potentially potent weapon, and finishing with a detailed account of the very limited impact the Mistel weapons actually had in combat (so typical of German wartime weapons programmes). [read full review]
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Heinkel He 111 - The Early Years - Fall of France, Battle of Britain and the Blitz, Chris Goss. A photographic history of the early career of the Heinkel He 111, tracing its development, early use in Spain, and the first campaigns of the Second World War, to the end of the Blitz. Provides more context to the pictures than is normally the case, often tracing mission that led to the picture, and the fate of each aircraft's crews, and thus greatly increasing the value of the book [read full review]
Fighting the Bombers - The Luftwaffe's Struggle against the Allied Bomber Offensive, ed. David C. Isby. A fascinating look at the Luftwaffe’s fight against the Allied bombers, based around a series of interviews carried out with key figures in the Luftwaffe just after the end of the war. As a result it gives us an idea of what they thought about the battle in its immediate aftermath, and before their stories began to change in the post-war years. A very valuable primary source for anyone interesting in the Second World War bombing campaigns(Read Full Review)
Nachtjagd Defenders of the Reich, Martin W. Bowman. A series of eyewitness accounts of the battle between German night fighters and British bombers between the start of the bombing campaign in 1940 and the battle of Berlin at the end of 1943. A bit repetitive in places, due to the vast number of accounts included, but as a result a useful source of information on the attitudes and achievements of the German night fighter forces [read full review]
Luftwaffe Fighter Force - The View from the Cockpit, ed. David C. Isby. The results of a series of interrogations of senior Luftwaffe officers, carried out immediately after the end of the war, focusing on the German use of fighters and ground attack aircraft during the Second World War. Written without access to documents, but also before their views were distorted in the post-war period [read full review]
Aces of the Reich - The Making of a Luftwaffe Fighter-Pilot, Mike Spick. A half-way house between a history of the Luftwaffe and a convention 'aces' book, starting with an examination of the history, commanders and aircraft of the Luftwaffe before moving on to a combat history that traces the contribution of the experten and finished with a series of potted biographies of a variety of different 'types'. [read full review]
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Fw 200 Condor vs Atlantic Convoy 1941-43, Robert Forczyk. A well structured examination of the attacks made on Allied convoys by the Fw 200 Condor, described by Churchill as the 'scourge of the Atlantic', and Allied efforts to provide an effective defence against it, which after a slow start saw convoys protected by ever more anti-aircraft guns, fighter aircraft from escort carriers and long range land-based aircraft. [read full review]
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The Luftwaffe: A History, John Killen. A good readable account of the rise and fall of the Luftwaffe that covers all of the main fronts on which it fought, and examines the reasons for the eventual failure as well as providing a readable narrative. Although it was originally published in 1967 the overall picture still holds up. [read full review]
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Foreign Planes in the Service of the Luftwaffe, Jean-Louis Roba. A lavishly illustrated look at the fate of the thousands of foreign military aircraft captured by the Germans during the Second World War (including particularly large numbers of Czech, French and Italian types), many of which went on to play important roles within the Luftwaffe.  [read full review]
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Air Aces

Fighter Aces - The Constable Maxwell Brothers, Alex Revell. An unusual double biography, looking at two brothers who served as fighter pilots, one in the First World War and one in the Second. As a result we get a clear picture of the vast increase in the complexity of aerial warfare in the two decades between the wars, from the standing fighter patrols of the first war to the radar guided interceptions of the Battle of Britain or the complexities of the night fighters, both on defensive and offensive duties [read full review]
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Air Aces of WWII, Robert Jackson. Despite its relatively small size, this is an impressively wide-ranging book, covering 104 air aces, with examples from every major combatant and many minor ones. Jackson covers most of the highest scoring aces as well as looking at some less well known figures, such as the Finn Ilmari Juutilainen or Martin la Meslée, a French ace of the phoney war period. He also includes a number of pilots who were significant not for their own personal scores, but for the ideas they developed [see more]
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The Bomber War

The Dam Buster Raid - A reappraisal 70 years on, Alan W. Cooper. More of a re-telling than a reappraisal, the accounts of the raid and its aftermath is good, but the build-up to the attack is less well handled. Most valuable when it looks at the post-raid and post-war lives of the participants - an area that I haven’t seen covered in such detail before. [read full review]
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Bomber Offensive, Sir Arthur Harris. The autobiography of Bomber Harris, giving his view of the strategic bombing campaign in its immediate aftermath. Invaluable for the insights it provides into Harris’s approach to the war, what he was trying to achieve and the problems he faced. Harris perhaps overstates his case, not entirely surprisingly given how soon after the end of the war this book was written (Read Full Review)
1 Group Bomber Command - An Operational Record, Chris Ward with Greg Harrison and Grzegorz Korcz. Split into two halves – a narrative account of the Group's activities within Bomber Command and a reference section covering each squadron and its aircraft. The narrative takes us day-by-day through the Group's main raids, including losses and a look at the success or failure of the raids. A useful reference work, and also a sobering reminder of the scale of losses suffered by Bomber Command throughout the war. [read full review]
The Mighty Eighth at War, Martin W. Bowman. Looks at the evolving battle between the Luftwaffe and the Eighth Air Force, as seen by the US airmen themselves. The book is dominated by first-hand accounts of the fighting, which make up at least half of the text. Bowman provides a framework that links these accounts, as well as some detailed footnotes expanding on the airmen's experiences.  [read full review]
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Bombs Away, Martin W. Bowman. A very varied selection of stories from the RAF's bomber war, covering the main bomber offensive as well as a section of other topics that include day-time attacks on France, raids into Italy across the Alps, the Dam Busters raid, Coastal Command bombing operations and the bombers of Malta, each told in the words of the air-crews themselves. [read full review]
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6 Group Bomber Command: An Operation Record, Chris Ward. This is a very detailed reference book that looks at the wartime service of the Canadian group in RAF Bomber Command. A detailed narrative history of the group is followed by a series of chapters on each squadron, with a brief history, list of stations, commanding officers and types of aircraft, and most impressively a list of every individual aircraft to serve with each squadron and its fate [read full review]
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 Inferno: The Devastation of Hamburg, 1943, Keith Lowe. Quite possibly the best book yet written on the Allied bombing campaign against Germany, Lowe examines the week-long attack on Hamburg in July 1943 from the point of view of the bomber pilots, the German night fighter pilots and the citizens of Hamburg. A brilliantly researched and written account of one of the more somber periods in European History. [see more]
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Battlefields in the Air: Canadians in the Allied Bomber Command, Dan McCaffery. A look at Bomber Command's controversial campaign against Germany, and the role played in it by the Canadian pilots of No.6 Group. McCaffery's well researched text is supported by eye witness accounts from both the Canadian air crew and the German targets of the bombing campaign.
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Boeing B-29 Superfortress

B-29 Superfortress Units of World War 2, Robert F Dorr. Despite the title, this book actually looks at the development and service career of the B-29 Superfortress, from the pre-war call for a heavy bomber to its heyday in 1945 when fleets of the massive silver bomber devastated the cities of Japan. [see more]
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Chance Vought Corsair

The Vought F4U Corsair, Rafe Morrissey and Joe Hegedus. A modeller's guide to the Vought Corsair, providing a detailed account of the aircraft's physical development, lavishly supported with photographs and detailed plans as well as a section of reviews of models at various scales. Aimed at someone who already knows how to model, and who wants to know the precise details of each variant of the aircraft. [read full review]
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Consolidated PBY Catalina

Catalina over Arctic Oceans - Anti-Submarine and Rescue Flying in World War II, John French. The autobiography of an RAF pilot who flew seaplanes over the northern oceans from bases in Shetland, watching the Tirpitz and searching for U-boats, as part of a longer RAF career that saw him serve behind the Iron Curtain in the early years of the Cold War. [read full review]
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Flying Catalinas, The Consolidated PBY Catalina in World War Two, Andrew Hendrie. A detailed operational history of the Catalina written by a wartime member of RAF Coastal Command. Mainly consists of accounts of individual Catalina sorties, including most attacks on Submarines and some notable air-sea rescue missions, giving a clear picture of the wide-ranging service of this remarkable aircraft. [read full review]
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US Navy PBY Catalina Units of the Pacific War, Louis B Dorny Osprey Combat Aircraft 62. This entry in the Combat Aircraft series looks at the varied uses of the Catalina in the Pacific theatre, where it served as successfully as a long range reconnaissance aircraft, a night bomber (the "Black Cat") and on air-sea rescue, or Dumbo duties. The text is well supported with first hand accounts, contemporary photographs and full colour illustrations. [see more]
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Douglas DC-3/ C-47/ R4D/ Dakota

C-47/R4D Skytrain Units of the ETO and MTO, David Isby. The C-47 was used in every major Allied attack from Operation Torch to the crossing of the Rhine, and played a crucial part in the final Allied victory in Europe. This book focuses on those major offensives, from the often flawed planning to the courageous implementation. For many of the crews involved these huge aerial attacks were their first combat mission and the plans required almost impossible levels of precision, but despite this most of these attacks ended in success. Here we discover why. [see more]
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C-47/R4D Skytrain Units of the Pacific and CBI, David Isby. Although the war in the Pacific is often seen as predominantly a naval war, very few of the Allied offensives would have been possible without the C-47/R4D (known as the Dakota in RAF service). Isby packs a great deal into this book, looking at the role the C-47 played in every part of the war against Japan, from the frozen Aleutians to the jungles of Burma. Often operating in areas within range of Japanese fighters, the Air Force's C-47s and Navy's R4Ds flew supplies into forward bases, dropped paratroopers and flew troops directly into newly captured or built airfields and flew casualties away from the front line. [see more]
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Grumman F4F Wildcat

Wildcat Aces of World War 2, Barrett Tillman. Osprey Aircraft of the Aces 3. A well balanced look at the combat service of the Grumman F4F Wildcat, the most important Allied naval fighter for most of the Second World War, looking at its service with the US Navy from Pearl Harbor to the end of the war, and its role with the Fleet Air Arm. [see more]
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Handley Page Halifax


Review of Halifax Squadrons by John lake Halifax Squadrons of World War II , Jon Lake. This is a very good book on the combat record of the Handley Page Halifax. It covers much more than just its role as a front line bomber, with chapters on the Halifax with Coastal Command, the Pathfinders and SOE, amongst others. [see more]
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Halifax Squadron: The Wartime Operations of No 640 Squadron, Leconfield, Bill Norman, 2005. A complete operational history of the squadron from its formation in January 1944 to the end of the war. Packed with interviews with members of the squadron, this book gives an invaluable insight into the life of a Bomber Command squadron in the last two years of the Second World War. [see more]
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Hawker Tempest and Typhoon


Typhoon and Tempest Aces of World War War 2, Chris Thomas. This book tells the tale of the troubled Hawker Typhoon, concentrating on its use as a fighter rather than its more successful career as a ground attack aircraft, and its transformation into the excellent Tempest, one of the best fighters of the later years of the Second World War [see more]
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Heinkel He 112


Heinkel HE 112 in Action, Dénes Bernád. This is an interesting book dedicated to one of the more obscure aircraft produced in Germany before the Second World War. [see more]
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Henschel Hs129

Hs 129 Panzerjäger!, Martin Pegg. The definitive history of the Henschel Hs 129, with good a good section on its development and early history, and an impressive level of detail on its front line career. Supported by some useful appendices, including one with a complete list of Hs 129 loses, with their date, aircraft number, pilot and cause of loss when known.
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Ilyushin Il-2 Shturmovik

Il-2 Shturmovik Guards Units of World War 2, Oleg Rastrenin Osprey Combat Aircraft 71. This is a very valuable look at the relatively unfamiliar career of a famous aircraft, written by a Russian aviation historian, and based very heavily on Soviet era archives. Produced in greater numbers than any other Second World War aircraft, the Il-2 was the backbone of the Soviet air force, while the Guards Units were its elite. [see more]
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Junkers Ju 87 'Stuka'

Junkers Ju 87 Stuka, Martin Derry and Neil Robinson. Combines a history of the Ju 87 Stuka with a detailed modeller’s guide, including colour schemes, reviews of the many models available, and pictures of many of those models assembled and painted by experts. Combines the technical and operation histories in a series of chapters looking at each major sub-type, before moving on to the impressive guide to the kits, which takes up the last third of the book!(Read Full Review)
Images of War: Stuka, Hitler's Lethal Dive Bomber, Alistair Smith. A collection of photos from the album of Erich Heine, a Stuka gunner and radio operator who mainly fought on the Eastern Front. Includes a good selection from his training, portraits, group photos, some fascinating aerial shots and a set from Luftwaffe funerals that illustrate how dangerous the ground attack role could be. [read full review]
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Junkers Ju 87 Stukageschwader of North Africa and the Mediterranean, John Weal Osprey Combat Aircraft 6. This book looks at the second phase of the Stuka's career, fighting around the Mediterranean. Having met its match in the skies above southern England, the Stuka groups moved south, first to attack Malta and take part in the campaign in the Balkans, and then to fight in North Africa. This second successful period ended once the Allies were able to build up their fighter strength in the desert, but the Stuka remained in limited use to the end of the war in Italy, eventually reducing to night nuisance raids and anti-partisan work. Weal also looks at the relatively small number of Ju 87s that served with the Italian Air Force, concentrating on the brief period at the start of the war when they were operating independently of the Germans.  [see more]
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Lockheed Hudson

Lockheed Hudson Aircraft in WWII, Andrew Hendrie, Crowood Press. A look at the development of the Hudson, and its career with the RAF, USAAF, RNZAF and RAAF. Covers the anti-submarine and anti-shipping uses of the Hudson, as well at its role in Air-Sea Rescue and special operations. The text is supported by a good collection of first hand accounts.
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Messerschmitt Bf 109


Bf 109 G/K, Nico Brass & Srecko Bradic. A look at the last versions of the Bf 109, focusing on the numerically important G and the final version to be mass produced, the K, as well as other late versions and post-war derivatives produced outside Germany. Very well illustrated, including some plans from the Messerschmitt archives, and with some interesting material. [read full review]
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Messerschmitt Bf 109: Pt. 1, John R. Beaman, Jr. This work provides a good technical history of the 109, tracing the development of the fighter from the early prototypes up to the 109E, the model used during the Battle of Britain. [see more]
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109 in Action 2Messerschmitt Bf 109: Pt. 2 , John R. Beaman, Jr. This second volume continues on from part one, beginning with the Bf 109F, probably the best version of the fighter, and taking the story to the end of the war and beyond. [see more]
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Messerschmitt Bf 110

Messerschmitt Bf 110 Zerstorer Aces of World War 2 (Osprey Aircraft of the Aces), John Weal. This book concentrates on the career of the Bf 110 as a daylight fighter. At the start of the war the aircraft had an impressive reputation, which survived to the end of the French campaign but faded once the aircraft had to face modern fighters. Weal traces the story of the Bf 110 through to the final disastrous attempts to use it against American heavy bombers.
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Mitsubishi A6M Zero

Mitsubishi A6M Zero, Robert Jackson Mitsubishi A6M Zero, Robert Jackson. Combines a useful history of the Zero (looking at the history of Japanese naval aviation, the development of the Zero, its service record in China and the Pacific) and the Allied reaction to it), with a detailed examination of the available model kits from the early Airfix kit to the current state of the art, along with an interesting model showcase, following the construction and modification of a Trumpeter A6M2 in 1/24 scale. Very good if you are interesting in modelling the Zero (Read Full Review)

 

North American B-25 Mitchell

PBJ Mitchell Units of the Pacific War, Jerry Scuts Osprey Combat Aircraft 40. This entry in the Combat Aircraft series looks at the seven Marine Corps squadrons to operate the Mitchell in the Pacific theatre, starting in March 1944. The small number of units involved means that this book looks at each of their wartime careers in some detail. [see more]
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France


link to review of French Fighters of WWIIFrench Fighters of World War II, Alain Pelletier. This book tells the story of the French fighter aircraft that attempted to stand up the Luftwaffe in 1940. It covers seven main aircraft and a larger number of minor variants. Each aircraft is taken from development and prototypes through the battle of France and into the period after the armistice. [see more]
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Naval Aviation

The Cinderella Service: RAF Coastal Command 1939-1945, Andrew Hendrie. A complete history of RAF Coastal Command during the Second World War, based on the author's PhD and thus backed by some very impressive original research. Covers the Command's aircraft and weapons as well as the anti-submarine, anti-shipping (both military and merchant) campaigns, and Coastal Command's own 'Cinderella' functions of air-sea rescue, photo-reconnaissance and the meteorological flights [read full review]
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RAF Coastal Command in Action, 1939-45, Roy C. Nesbit. This is an excellent photographic history of Coastal Command during the Second World War. The book is split into six chapters, one for each year of the war. Each chapter begins with a brief introduction to the events of the year, and the aircraft that equipped the command before moving on to the photos. Each chapter contains a mix of pictures of the aircraft used by the command and pictures taken by the command. [see more]
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The Fleet Air Arm Handbook 1939-45, David Wragg. This is an excellent book on the Fleet Air Arm, combining a well written history of British Naval Aviation during the Second World War with a detailed reference section on the squadrons and ships of the Fleet Air Arm [see more]
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