Osprey's Big Reveal: Air Campaign

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Our 2022 Air Campaign books look at several major conflicts across the 20th century, which ones are you looking forward to the most?

 

ACM: “Big Week” 1944  

In  February 1944, the Allies conceived and fought history’s first-ever  successful offensive counter­air (OCA) campaign, Operation Argument or “Big Week.” Attacking German aircraft factories with hundreds of heavy bombers, escorted by the new long-range P-51 Mustang, it aimed both to slash aircraft production and force the Luftwaffe into combat, allowing the new Mustangs to take their toll on the German interceptors. This expertly written, illustration-packed account explains how the Allies finally began to win air superiority over Europe, and how Operation Argument marked the beginning of the Luftwaffe’s fall.

 

ACM: Arctic Convoys 1942 

Arctic Convoys had been running since late 1941, and losses were initially mostly low. But in early 1942, Germany began to bolster its forces in Norway and naval and air forces stationed there had a new opportunity to target convoys. Initially, the Luftwaffe’s contribution was minor but, in May, Luftwaffe bombers sank half the Allied ships from Convoy PQ-15. Having found their stride, the Luftwaffe became the true menace to Allied shipping. The climax came in September 1942 with convoy PQ 18; the convoy remained together, but 30 percent of the ships were sunk.

The Luftwaffe’s tide ebbed almost as quickly as it rose. In November, the Allies landed in North Africa in Operation Torch, and  Luftwaffe’s bombers were redeployed south, but the Allies had already thrown in the towel. They never again attempted an Arctic convoy during the summer months.

This book examines the rise and eventual triumph of the Luftwaffe by September 1942 and the Allied response to their air threat. It reveals why the Allies failed to curb the threat in 1942 and demonstrates how the combined presence of warships, U-boats and bombers was far more effective than using separate forces."

 

ACM: Bloody April 1917 

Researched from original German-, French-, and English-language sources, and written by an authority on both air and ground military operations, this book explains how and why Allied airpower failed to perform to expectations in Bloody April. It examines not only the well-known problems with technology and training doctrine, but also how the artillery-aircraft combination ideally had to work in late-World War I ground offensives, and what the Allies and Germans got right and wrong. It covers little-known parts of the April campaigns, such as both sides' use of strategic bombing with heavy aircraft, and the Germans' use of advanced high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft, flying at 21,000ft with oxygen and heated suits.

It also explains how Bloody April caused the British and French to change their approach to airpower.  Not only was the coordination of artillery and aircraft improved, but aircraft played a much larger role in direct support of ground troops in the attack mode and was also used as liaison for command and control. It paved the way for the airpower revolution that, by 1918, would make the Allies the masters of the sky on the Western Front."

 

ACM: D-Day 1944 

D-Day is one of the most written-about events in military history. One aspect of the invasion, however, continues to be ignored: the massive pre-assault bombardment by the Allied Expeditionary Air Force (AEAF), reinforced by RAF Bomber Command and the US Eighth Air Force on June 6 which sought to neutralize the German defenses along the Atlantic Wall. Unfortunately, this failed series of attacks resulted in death or injury to hundreds of soldiers, and killed many French civilians.

Despite an initial successful attack performed by the Allied forces, the most crucial phase of the operation was disastrous. The bombers missed almost all of their targets, inflicting little damage to the German defenses, which resulted in a high number of casualties among the Allied infantry. Offering a new perspective on a little-known air campaign meant to support one of the most famous offensive actions of World War II, this volume explores why the bombers failed, and the deadly consequences.

 

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 was won by opening night attacks that shattered Iraq’s integrated air defense system and permitted follow-on attacks by coalition air and naval air forces which savaged Iraq’s military infrastructure and forces by destroying capabilities and equipment. The rapid outcome of the war led to widespread military reform as the world’s militaries changed their strategic and operational priorities 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  reflects this transformation, a consequence of the deployment of precision air power in the Gulf War of 1991."

 

ACM: Gothic Line 1944–45

By late 1944, the Italian Campaign was secondary to the campaigns in France, and Allied forces were not strong enough to break the Germans’ mighty Gothic Line. These fortifications were supplied by rail through the Alps, with trains arriving hourly and delivering 600,000 tons of supplies a month.

 

But in the bitter winter of 1944/45, the mighty Gothic Line would be defeated by American air power. Instead of a direct assault, Operation Bingo would ruthlessly cut the Germans’ supply lines and leave them starved. The rail routes were defended by a formidable array of heavy flak, and every raid was expected. Conditions were freezing, and even in electric flying suits, men suffered both hypoxia and frostbite.

By the end of February, the previous eight-hour rail journey took the Germans 3-4 days on the wrecked railroad, and soon supplies were barely enough to keep the army alive. On April 12, the Allied ground attack began, and within ten days the German command in Northern Italy sued for surrender, the first German force in Europe to do so.

Packed with first-hand accounts and expert analysis, this book is a fascinating history of the most successful US battlefield interdiction campaign in history.

 

ACM: The Kamikaze Campaign 1944–45   

As summer changed to autumn in 1944, Japan was losing the war. Still unwilling to surrender, Japan’s last hope was to try to wear down US resolve enough to reach a negotiated settlement. Extraordinary measures seemed necessary, and the most extraordinary were the kamikazes. 

The concept of organized suicide squadrons had first been raised on June 15, 1944. By August, formations were being trained. These formations were first used in the October 1944 US invasion of the Philippine Islands, where they offered some tactical success. The program was expanded into a major campaign over the rest of the Pacific War, seeing a crescendo during the struggle for Okinawa in April through May 1945.

This highly illustrated history examines not just the horrific missions, but also the decisions behind the kamikaze campaign, how it developed, and how it became a key part of Japanese strategy. This book also assesses the Allied mitigation techniques and strategies and the reasons and the degree to which they were successful. Although the attacks started on an almost ad hoc basis, the kamikaze soon became a major Japanese policy. By the end of the war, Japan was manufacturing aircraft specifically for kamikaze missions. A plan for a massive use of kamikazes to defend the Japanese Home Islands from invasion was developed, but never executed because of Japan’s surrender in August 1945. "

 

ACM: The Oil Campaign 1944–45

With retreating German forces losing their oilfields on the Eastern Front, Germany was reliant on its own facilities, particularly for producing synthetic oil from coal. However, these were within range of the increasingly mighty Allied air forces. In 1944, the head of the US Strategic Air Forces, General Carl Spaatz was intent on a new campaign that aimed to cripple the German war machine by depriving it of fuel.

The USAAF’s Oil Campaign built up momentum during the summer of 1944 and targeted these refineries and plants with its daylight heavy bombers. Decrypted German communications made it clear that the Oil Campaign was having an effect against the Wehrmacht. Fuel shortages in the autumn of 1944 forced the Luftwaffe to ground most of its combat units except for fighters involved in the defense of the Reich. Fuel shortages also forced the Kriegsmarine to place most of its warships in harbor except for the U-boats, and greatly hampered German army campaigns such as the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944–45.

This fascinating book examines the controversies and debates over the focus of the US bombing campaign in the final year of the war, and the impact it had on the war effort overall.

Post Comments

AdamC posted on 13 Aug 2021 14:49:00
Not a bad list by any means. How about these next time?;
The Blitz 1940-41
Berlin Airlift 1948-49
Black Buck 1982
Operation Steinbock 1944
Operation Bodenplatte 1945
PAUL W posted on 7 Aug 2021 10:21:49
Very pleased with the bloody April title coming out. I suppose by default there is always going to be a significant number of ww2 titles. At least they are covering a large number of theatres.

Definitely a lot more to cover in ww1, hopefully this is just the start.
Paintybeard posted on 3 Aug 2021 15:39:11
Agreed with all the below: Good to see some of the WW1 titles that never got written for the Centenary, but please can we see a few books that aren't American orientated? (I bet I'm saying this for X-planes as well.) Surely we can have an Air Campaign on "Barbarossa" soon.

Oh, and I'm still plugging for a book on the Berlin Airlift.
Hessy Field posted on 3 Aug 2021 14:05:59
Good to see a WWI title in this series - the pick for me (perhaps one day even a WWI Combat Aircraft book will emerge). However, a little disappointed to see the over preponderance of WWII rear its head again. While I'm here could I suggest a book on the 1919 RAF campaign in Afghanistan - the first ever military action won by air power.
KenA posted on 3 Aug 2021 13:41:29
I agree, some interesting titles here and I’ll probably buy 4 or 5. I observe though that, once again, the US features prominently in this selection. This continual US-centricity (is there such a word?) is becoming more than a little tiresome.
David Hale posted on 3 Aug 2021 12:58:16
Some excellent titles in this selection, the stand-out being the first Great War title for the series!

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