This month we are asking you which titles you would like to see in our Air Campaign series. Have a read of the descriptions below and let us know which of these you’d like to see us publish!
Austria 1915-18: Italy’s air campaign from the Adriatic to Vienna
In 1915 Italy entered the war with a collection of old French-made biplanes, and in the first duel with a Austrian biplane the Italian observer had to defend his aircraft with a rifle. But despite the reluctance of some senior officers the Italian air arm developed rapidly, with airships soon flying raids against Austrian provinces south of the Alps and across the Adriatic. When the famous Caproni heavy bombers joined the Italian air corps, Italy had one of the most modern bombers flying, and eventually fielded 15 squadrons of them. In the closing months of the war the Corpo Aeronautico Militare flew over Vienna dropping propaganda leaflets. Italy ended the war filled with pride in its aviation, and in the 1920s would be one of the most forward-looking aviation powers.
The Ruhr 1943: The campaign against Germany’s industrial heartland
During World War II, the Ruhr valley’s oil plants, steelworks and weapons factories were among the most important targets for Bomber Command – but almost among the best-defended. By 1943, navigation equipment and techniques had been developed, including the Pathfinder squadrons, the bomber stream, and electronics such as Oboe, that gave night bombers a fighting chance of hitting vital targets. Although the campaign is now most famous for the Dambuster raids, this book would focus on the conventional bombers’ fierce battle to get to and hit their targets, and the Germans’ deadly efforts to defend their industrial heartland.
Operation Strangle 1943-44: Pioneering air interdiction in Italy
With air superiority achieved over Italy in 1943, but with German troops dug in and blocking the road to Rome, Allied air commanders began an innovative campaign to cut German supply routes and try to force their withdrawal. Conditions seemed ideal, with a long supply chain, and rugged terrain channelling supplies along a limited number of routes. Heavy bombers would hit targets in northern Italy, while tactical aircraft flew missions further south. This book would explain how Strangle was conceived and fought, and how although it failed to cut the supply line, it unexpectedly reduced German troops’ mobility, making the Allies’ ground offensive, Operation Diadem, much easier.
Japan 1945: Carrier raids against the Home Islands
By 1945 the US Navy and British Pacific Fleet were confident enough to venture carrier-borne airstrikes against Japan’s Home Islands. Although it was still heavily defended by anti-aircraft guns and the shallow water did not allow the use of torpedoes, US carrier aircraft launched a determined attack on Kure, the naval base harbouring the last major Japanese warships, while Royal Navy carriers attacked Osaka. Partly revenge for Pearl Harbor, partly to allow Soviet naval operations to go undisturbed, and partly to destroy Japan’s potential bargaining chips, the raids sank three battleships, an aircraft carrier, several other warships and hundreds of aircraft, at the cost of 102 Allied aviators’ lives.
Operation Black Buck 1982: Vulcans over Port Stanley
Until the Gulf War, the longest-range bombing missions in history were a series of improvised raids by elderly RAF Vulcans, flown over several thousand miles of the desolate South Atlantic and supported by a complex relay of Victor aerial tankers, and meant to land just one or two unguided bombs on key parts of Port Stanley airfield. With navigation aids and ECM pods scavenged from other aircraft, and hastily refitted to allow conventional bombing and aerial refuelling, the first Black Buck managed to score a single hit in the middle of the Port Stanley runway, denying it to Argentine fast jets. Six follow-up raids, equally complex, used Shrike anti-radar missiles as well as bombs in missions against Argentinean air defences.