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To start our book vote in 2020, we're looking at five books from the Air Campaign series. As with every month, there are five books to choose between. Have a read of the descriptions and cast your vote!

 

ACM: Lorraine 1918: Billy Mitchell’s great Franco-American air offensive over St Mihiel/Meuse-Argonne

ACM: Germany 1942: The RAF brings area-bombing, fire-bombing, and 1,000-Bomber raids

ACM: Berlin Airlift 1948: The first air campaign of the Cold War

ACM: Operation Niagara 1968: The huge close air support operation over Khe Sanh

ACM: Operation Allied Force 1999: NATO’s ‘humanitarian air campaign’ against in the Kosovo War  


Lorraine 1918: Billy Mitchell’s great Franco-American air offensive over St Mihiel/Meuse-Argonne

The AEF's combined St Mihiel/Meuse-Argonne air campaign was probably the largest air offensive of World War I. The 1,500 Franco-American planes Billy Mitchell marshalled against St Mihiel in mid-September 1918 was supposedly the largest air armada ever assembled until at least 1942. Judging from the Germans rushing all their elite Jagdgeschwader pursuit groups to meet it, the St Mihiel/Meuse-Argonne air offensive was arguably the most important air campaign of the war's final months.  In addition to major roles for the American, French, and German air forces, the British also had a minor role thanks to RAF strategic bomber raids against German Lorraine targets

 

Germany 1942: The RAF brings area-bombing, fire-bombing, and 1,000-Bomber raids

At the start of 1942, the controversial ‘area bombing’ of Germany became RAF policy, and Arthur Harris ramped up Bomber Command’s war against Germany’s cities. Towns and cities selected for their flammability were hit first, and as Bomber Command grew in size and power, it launched massed ‘Thousand Bomber’ raids, the first of which devastated the city of Cologne. The area bombing campaign of 1942 was a proving ground for bombing techniques that would be used later in the war, against Hamburg, Berlin, and many other cities.

 

Berlin Airlift 1948: The first air campaign of the Cold War

The blockade of Berlin was the first major crisis of the Cold War, when the USSR closed road and rail access to the city in an attempt to gain Soviet control over West Berlin. The airlift that was launched in response was audacious and unproven – no city had been supplied by air alone before, the RAF and USAF had relatively few transport aircraft in theatre, and the operation had to be devised from scratch and mistakes rapidly fixed. The airlift had to be flown in the face of bitter and challenging weather, harassment by Soviet Air Force fighters, and a severe lack of aircraft- and cargo-handling facilities. By the end of the operation, however, thanks to excellent organization, the determination of the aircrews, and the vital assistance of the Berliners themselves, the airlift was routinely flying in West Berlin’s needs. The Soviets were forced to back down, and the concept of large-scale airlift was proven.

 

Operation Niagara 1968: The huge close air support operation over Khe Sanh

Khe Sanh was a key Marine combat base just south of the DMZ. In early 1968, the fighting around the base erupted into a full-scale bid to capture Khe Sanh by three divisions of the PAVN. The two sides saw this as a chance to either slay or resurrect the ghosts of Dien Bien Phu, when French airpower failed to save the French Army’s outpost. In Khe Sanh, however, the US could send in not only tactical fighters but B-52 strategic bombers – although it did run into inter-service rivalry between the USAF and Marine aviation. Bombing alarmingly close to friendly troops, the fighters and B-52s conducted one of the most concentrated assaults in air power history, relying both on the skills of the aircrews and the systems and capabilities of the Marines and USAF to control such firepower.

 

Operation Allied Force 1999: NATO’s ‘humanitarian air campaign’ against in the Kosovo War

Following the clear success of Western air power in the Gulf War, and the end of the Cold War, NATO gained a new freedom of action to use its advanced air power. As Yugoslavia continued to disintegrate, the ethnic-Albanian province of Kosovo rebelled against Slobodan Milosevic’s Yugoslavia, which drew in the Western powers as it saw human-rights abuses and another humanitarian crisis on its borders. As diplomacy failed in 1999, Operation Allied Force was launched to force a Yugoslav withdrawal. The Yugoslavs’ MiG-29s were no match for NATO air-superiority fighters, but the Western aircraft had to run the gauntlet of Soviet anti-aircraft systems, and Yugoslav ground-attack aircraft managed to evade NATO to fly sorties against Kosovo. Targeting government buildings, industry, power, and transport links as well as the Yugoslav military, Allied Force was successful, though controversial, and it was undermined by failures such as the bombing of the Chinese embassy and the shock loss of an F-117 ‘stealth fighter’, as well as several other NATO aircraft.

 

Make your vote by clicking here!

Last month we asked you what would you like to see published in our Combat Aircraft series. Thank you to everyone who voted and provided feedback, the full results are listed below!

 

COM: RB-47 Units in Combat  11%
COM: Ju 52/3m Transport and Minesweeping Units 1941-45  23%
COM: USAF and USMC RF-4 Phantom II Units of the Vietnam War  12%
COM: USAAF A-20 Havoc Units of the ETO/MTO  18%
COM: Macchi C.202 Folgore and C.205V Veltro Units in Combat   35%

 

Did your favourite win? Which Air Campaign title did you vote for? Let us know in the comments!

Post Comments

Hessy Field posted on 8 Jan 2020 11:59:13
I agree that all these titles are worthwhile - and it's particularly good to see a range of suggestions which is not dominated by World War II. I went for the NATO in Kosovo book as for me this is the most interesting option and is relatively poorly covered unlike, say, the Berlin airlift which has already been well-covered by numerous other publications.
Schutztruppe posted on 7 Jan 2020 14:53:29
The Lorraine, Berlin Airlift and the NATO campaign are all books I would like to see.
I am interested in the WWI. So I had to vote for the Lorraine of course.
PAUL W posted on 7 Jan 2020 13:42:15
Hopefully Ju 52/3m Transport and Minesweeping Units 1941-45 that came in 2nd may also get a shot. Maintaining my support for second place, this month I'm voting for Lorraine 1918.
Tomi posted on 6 Jan 2020 18:59:03
I would buy all of them.
GI Gene posted on 6 Jan 2020 17:33:22
I agree with all you people, the Berlin Airlift was one the greatest military aviation events in history that did not involve direct combat. It definitely got my vote!
David Hale posted on 6 Jan 2020 15:10:20
Great list. I would definitely buy four of those (not that concerned with the Vietnam War) so choosing just one is difficult this month! However, the Berlin Airlift is a seminal moment in history so that’s where my vote goes.
KenA posted on 6 Jan 2020 13:31:17
Welcome back Minal from your holiday break. The book vote was fairly conclusive last month so I look forward to seeing a title on the Italian Macchi units in due course.

Of the options for this month’s vote the Berlin Airlift was just such a phenomenal campaign that was successful in spite of all the difficulties and adversities faced that it has to get my vote.
Paintybeard posted on 6 Jan 2020 12:16:14
Thank you for putting up the Berlin Airlift as an option, it's my baby!

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