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Osprey's Big Reveal: Air Campaign

In Military History, Featured
CAM  WPN  ANT  GNM1  ELI  ACM  DUE  CBT  MAA  GNA  RAID  GNM2  COM/XPL  NVG

To navigate your way through the Big Reveal please use the links in the bar above.

 

Our 2021 Air Campaign books look at several major conflicts across the 20th century, which ones are you looking forward to the most?

 

ACM: Battle of the Atlantic 1942–45

As 1942 opened, both Nazi Germany and the Allies were ready for the climactic battles of the Atlantic to begin. Germany had 91 operational U-boats, and over 150 in training or trials. Production for 1942–44 was planned to exceed 200 boats annually. 
Meanwhile, the British had assembled the solution to the U-boat peril. Its weapons and detection systems had improved to the stage that maritime patrol aircraft could launch deadly attacks on U-boats day and night. 
Following its entry into the war in 1941, the United States had also thrown its industrial muscle behind the campaign, supplying VLR Liberator bombers to the RAF and escort carriers to the Royal Navy. The US Navy also operated anti-submarine patrol blimps and VLR aircraft in the southern and western Atlantic, and sent its own escort carriers to guard convoys.

This book, the second of two volumes, explores the climactic events of the Battle of the Atlantic, and reveals how air power – both maritime patrol aircraft and carrier aircraft – ultimately proved to be the Allies’ most important weapon in one of the most bitterly fought naval campaigns of World War II.


ACM: Desert Storm 1991

Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm (7 Aug 1990-28 Feb 1991), the UN-mandated multi-nation joint-service and combined arms campaign to liberate Kuwait from the forces of Saddam Hussein, constitutes the most successful air campaign in military aviation history.

The war had been won by opening night attacks that shattered Iraq’s integrated air defense system and allowed follow-on attacks by coalition air and naval air forces over the campaign that savaged its military infrastructure and fielded forces largely by destroying capabilities and equipment. Crucial to the war’s outcome was the productive interworking of coalition airmen and their commanders. The rapid outcome of the war led to widespread military reform as the world’s advanced militaries changed their strategic and operational priorities; their governing doctrines and training; and their acquisition and force-structures, to reflect the new emphasis on air power, precision strike, and simultaneous and parallel attack (in place of traditional sequential and linear attack). The military world that we live in today (and will in the future) reflects the transformation of military power exemplified by air power in the Gulf War of 1991.


ACM: Holland 1940

From the perspective of the German High Command, its invasion of the Netherlands on May 10, 1940 was supposed to be a lightning fast surgical strike, aimed at shoring up the right flank of the Wehrmacht’s massive assault on France and Belgium. This is how the campaign is typically recorded in general surveys of the Second World War. In a bold maneuver, the German Luftwaffe would launch what was at the time the largest airborne operation in history, calculating that surprise and speed would negate the need for a lengthy ground campaign or large numbers of ground troops. The Luftwaffe would use paratroops and air-landing troops to capture Dutch airfields, bridges, and other key strategic points around the main urban centers of the Netherlands in order to clear a path for quick-moving armored and motorized forces. Once these forces captured the main Dutch cities, it was assumed that the Dutch government would capitulate; the entire operation was expected to take only 24 hours. The actual campaign proved to be much less efficient and had devastating results for the Luftwaffe.


ACM: Norway 1940

The Campaign for Norway in 1940 was a pivotal moment in modern warfare. It was the first modern joint campaign that featured not only ground and naval operations, but also airpower as an equal element of all operations. Indeed, Norway was the first campaign in history where air superiority, possessed by the Germans, was able to overcome the overwhelming naval superiority, possessed by the British. German success in Norway was not pre-ordained. At several times in the opening weeks of the campaign the Norwegian and Allied forces could have inflicted a major defeat on the Germans if their operations had been effectively supported. It was, in fact, the superior German use of their air force that gave the Germans the decisive margin of victory and ensured the failure of the Allied counteroffensive in central Norway in April and May of 1940.

Featuring an analysis of the cooperation of ground, naval and air forces, this book provides a complete view of a compelling turning point in World War II.

 

ACM: Sinking Force Z 1941

In late 1941, war was looming with Japan, and Britain's empire in southeast Asia was at risk. The British government decided to send Force Z, which included the state-of-the-art battleship Prince of Wales and the battlecruiser Repulse, to bolster the naval defences of Singapore, and provide a mighty naval deterrent to Japanese aggression. These two powerful ships arrived in Singapore on 2 December - five days before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. But crucially, they lacked air cover. On 9 December Japanese scout planes detected Force Z's approach in the Gulf of Thailand. Unlike at Pearl Harbor, battleships at sea could manoeuvre, and their anti-aircraft defences were ready. But it did no good. The Japanese dive-bombers and torpedo-bombers were the most advanced in the world, and the battle was one-sided.

Strategically, the loss of Force Z was a colossal disaster for the British, and one that effectively marked the end of its empire in the East. But even more importantly, the sinking marked the last time that battleships were considered to be the masters of the ocean. From that day on, air power rather than big guns would be the deciding factor in naval warfare.

 

ACM: The Ruhr 1943

Between March to July 1943, Bomber Command undertook its first concentrated bombing campaign, namely the Battle of the Ruhr. This campaign though has often been overshadowed by the more famous raid of the “Dambusters”, which specifically targeted the Ruhr Dams. But this operation, as novel as it was, only tells a small part of a much larger story, which was Bomber Command’s first concentrated air battle against a particular area of Germany.

Drawing on a wide-range of primary and secondary sources, this is the story of the first titanic struggle in the skies over Germany between Bomber Command and the Luftwaffe, as the former set out to destroy industrial Germany.

 

ACM: Truk 1944–45

In 1939 Japan established a naval and air base in Truk. Soon thereafter Truk was closed to outsiders and became the headquarters for the Imperial Japanese Navy’s Fourth Fleet. By the time Japan initiated the Pacific phase of World War II, Truk was their major bastion in the Pacific.

A plan was conceived to neutralize Truk through a series of carrier air raids. The US Navy launched two sets of strikes against Truk, one in February 1944 and one in April-May of 1944. They proved so devastating Truk was abandoned as an anchorage and most of its few surviving aircraft were withdrawn. Thereafter, land based bombers from US bases in the Marshall and Caroline Islands kept Truk suppressed. 

This book would examine the rise and fall of Truk as a Japanese bastion. It would follow the development of the strongpoint, and show how Allied forces used airpower to reduce Japan’s most heavily-defended naval port outside the Home Islands. While the focus would be on the two sets of US Navy carrier raids, it would also explore the role of land-based four-engine bombers in preventing Truk’s recovery, and examine the only major Central Pacific action conducted by the Royal Navy.

Post Comments

KenA posted on 29 Aug 2020 01:55:38
Norway and Battle of the Atlantic (Pt II) top the list for me.
GI Gene posted on 25 Aug 2020 19:14:09
Looking forward to the Desert Storm title.
PAUL W posted on 25 Aug 2020 17:23:29
Good titles but wonder if some will have to duplicate some material from previous campaign titles.
Paintybeard posted on 24 Aug 2020 15:22:33
All good solid titles, but I could wish that there were more non - WW2 coverage.

I'm pleased that the Norway book will analyse how the air war affected the Ground and naval operations. This is the direction this series needs to take.

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