This summer we're unveiling all the titles we're publishing in 2023! Today we're presenting the upcoming books in the Air Campaign. Commissioning Editor Tom Milner takes us through what we can expect.
With eight titles this year, Air Campaign this year offers a mixture of global World War II coverage as well as some fascinating postwar air campaigns. My picks are the crucially important Stalingrad Airlift 1942–43; Andrew Bird’s fresh account of Operation Black Buck 1982; and Michael Claringbould’s in-depth look at Operation Ro-Go, the IJN’s counteroffensive during the Bougainville campaign.
Let us know what you're most looking forward to in the comments!
ACM 34 Stalingrad Airlift 1942–43: The Luftwaffe's broken promise to Sixth Army
By William E. Hiestand
The story of what really led to Germany losing the battle of Stalingrad - the inability of the Luftwaffe to keep Sixth Army supplied throughout the winter of 1942–43 - and why this crucial airlift failed.
Luftwaffe chief Hermann Goering’s failure to deliver his promise to keep Sixth Army supplied at Stalingrad was one of the most hard-hitting strategic air failures of World War II. 300 tons a day of supplies were required to sustain the Sixth Army, flown in against a Soviet fighter force whose capabilities were rapidly being transformed. The Luftwaffe's failure left Sixth Army trapped, vulnerable and too weak to attempt a breakout.
The destruction of Sixth Army was one of the major turning points in World War II but the Luftwaffe’s crucial role in this disaster has often been overlooked. Some claim the attempt was doomed from the beginning but, in this intriguing book, author William E. Hiestand explains how the Germans had amassed sufficient aircraft to, at least theoretically, provide the supplies needed. Demands of aircraft maintenance, awful weather and, in particular, the Soviet air blockade crippled the airlift operation. In addition, the employment of increasing numbers of modern aircraft by the Soviet Air Force using more flexible tactics, coupled with Chief Marshal Novikov’s superior Air Army organisation proved decisive.
The Luftwaffe did eventually recover and mounted focused operations for control of limited areas of the Eastern Front, but overall it had lost its dominance. Packed with strategic diagrams and maps, archive photos and artwork of aerial battles over Stalingrad, and including bird's eye views of Operation Winter Storm and airlift operations and tactics, this title clearly demonstrates how the Luftwaffe lost its strategic initiative in the air.
ACM 35 Afghanistan 1979–88: Soviet air power against the mujahideen
By Mark Galeotti
The first English-language book to examine the crucial part air power played in the Soviet-Afghan War.
The Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan was fought as much in the air as on the ground. From the high-level bombing raids that blasted rebel-held mountain valleys, to the Mi-24 helicopter gunships and Su-25 jets that accompanied every substantial army operation, Soviet control of the air was a crucial battlefield asset. Air power was vital to every aspect of its operations, from the Mi-8 helicopters that ferried supplies to remote mountaintop observation points to the An-12 ‘Black Tulips’ that conveyed the bodies of fallen soldiers on their last journey home.
But this was not a wholly one-sided conflict. Even before the Afghan rebels began to acquire man-portable surface-to-air missiles such as the US Stinger, they aggressively and imaginatively adapted. They learnt new techniques of camouflage and deception, set up ambushes against low-level attacks, and even launched daring raids on airbases to destroy aircraft on the ground.
Featuring information previously little-known in the West, such as the Soviets' combat-testing of Yak-38 'Forger' naval jump jets, Soviet military expert Mark Galeotti examines this crucial aspect of the war in Afghanistan, drawing deeply on Western and Russian sources, and including after-action analyses from the Soviet military. Using maps, battlescenes and detailed bird's-eye views, he paints a comprehensive picture of the air war and argues that it was Soviet air power that prevented the bloody stalemate from turning into an outright defeat for the Red Army.
ACM 36 South China Sea 1945: Task Force 38's bold carrier rampage in Formosa, Luzon, and Indochina
By Mark Lardas
A history of the US Navy's remarkable 1945 South China Sea raid against the Japanese, the first time in history that a carrier fleet dared to rampage through coastal waters.
As 1945 began, Admiral Halsey launched a campaign he had longed to conduct: a ten-day sweep through the South China Sea, using Third Fleet’s carrier airpower to strike Japan’s airfields and sink its warships in port. More importantly, it would also sever Japan's main supply line which fed Japan's industries and military. But no carrier force had ever survived in such confined, hostile waters before.
In this book Mark Lardas explains how groundbreaking Third Fleet’s operation in early 1945 was. Launching airstrikes into harbours in Indochina, on the Chinese coast and Formosa, by the time the carrier fleet exited the South China Sea, over 300,000 tons of Japanese shipping and dozens of warships had been sunk. With follow-up air strikes against Formosa and the Ryukyu Islands, the success of the sweep was unprecedented.
The South China Sea raid proved that aircraft carriers could overwhelm land-based airpower, and was the forerunner of the post-war era of US naval dominance, where carrier groups could strike around the globe with near-impunity.
ACM 37 Operation Black Buck 1982: The Vulcans' extraordinary Falklands War raids
By Andrew Bird
A newly researched, fully illustrated account of how RAF Vulcan bombers flew a series of the world's longest air raids in 1982 against Port Stanley airfield, in a daring, hastily improvised strike against the Argentinian invaders.
The RAF's opening shots of the Falklands War struck a severe body-blow to the occupying army, and make them realise that nothing was safe from British forces.
The idea was simple: to destroy the runway at Port Stanley, and prevent Argentinian fighter jets using it against the Royal Navy task force. But the nearest British-owned staging location was Ascension Island – 3,900 miles away from the Falklands, with only a modest airfield. There were many who believed it couldn’t be done, but after the success of Black Buck I, the feat was repeated several times.
ACM 38 The Blitz 1940–4: The Luftwaffe's biggest strategic bombing campaign
By Julian Hale
A new history of how the Luftwaffe intended 'the Blitz' to knock Britain out of the war, how Britain's defences and civilians responded, and why the campaign failed.
The Blitz – the German bombing of Britain's industrial and port cities – is one of the most iconic episodes of World War II. Cities from London to Glasgow, Belfast to Hull, and Liverpool to Cardiff were targeted, in an attempt to destroy Britain's military-industrial facilities, and force it out of the war.
Yet most histories of the Blitz concentrate on the civilian experience of ‘life under the bombs’ or the fighter pilots of the RAF. In military terms, the Blitz was also the Luftwaffe's biggest and most ambitious strategic bombing campaign of World War II. Though looking at both sides, this book places a particular emphasis on the hitherto under-represented Luftwaffe view of the campaign.
Describing and analyzing the strategy, tactics and operations of both the Luftwaffe and the UK’s air defences during the period between September 1940 and May 1941, author Julian Hale demonstrates that, for a variety of reasons, there was little chance of the Luftwaffe achieving any of its aims.
Using primary-source research, spectacular original artwork, 3D diagrams and maps, this study shines a fresh light on how and why the world’s first true strategic air offensive failed.
ACM 39 Korea 1950–53: B-29s, Thunderjets and Skyraiders fight the strategic bombing campaign
By Michael Napier
A spectacularly illustrated new history and analysis of the little-known strategic bombing campaign in the Korean War, which saw the last combat of America's legendary B-29s.
Just five years after they defeated Japan, at the dawn of the jet age the most advanced bomber of World War II was already obsolescent. But the legendary war-winning Superfortresses had one more war to fight, in the strategic air campaign against North Korea.
The bombers' task was to destroy North Korea's facilities for waging war, from industry and hydroelectric dams to airfields and bridges. However, it was a challenging campaign, in which the strategy was not merely military but political. In this fascinating book, former RAF pilot and airpower scholar Michael Napier explains how the campaign was fought, and how the technique of 'bombing to negotiate' that would become notorious in Vietnam was already being used in Korea. He analyses how the relationship between battlefield progress, armistice negotiations and the bombing campaign developed over the complex campaign.
In the skies over Korea, the B-29s operated in a new world dominated by jet fighters, and jet age technology and tactics were developing rapidly. The author also explores the strategic missions flown by the new generation of attack aircraft. Packed with illustrations, this book includes dramatic original illustrations featuring B-29s, MiG-15s, AD Skyraiders, and Thunderjets in action, as well as maps, 3D recreations of missions, and explanatory 3D diagrams.
This is a fascinating, dramatic account of the last battles of the piston-engined aircraft era, as the superpowers vied for victory in this first clash of the Cold War.
ACM 40 Operation Steinbock 1944: The Luftwaffe's disastrous last Blitz over England
By Simon Trew
The story of Germany's disastrous last cross-Channel bombing campaign in early 1944, which left the Luftwaffe's strike capability devastated and barely able to oppose the D-Day landings
Operation Steinbock was the Luftwaffe’s last sustained bomber offensive against the United Kingdom, often referred to by the British as the ‘Baby Blitz’ or ‘Little Blitz’. In this book, renowned World War II historian Simon Trew explains how and why the Luftwaffe's last cross-Channel campaign was such a contrast to the Blitz of 1940–41. In 1944, the Luftwaffe’s under-trained and inexperienced bomber crews were out-thought and outfought by their opponents, who combined electronic warfare with powerful new night fighters and advanced anti-aircraft defences, including modern radar-cued guns.
Although a few raids in February 1944 caused significant damage to small parts of London, some attacks missed their target completely and German airmen often struggled even to find the English coast, let alone drop their bombs accurately. Attempts to copy or adapt British methods of night-time target marking and other bombing procedures, and to utilise new navigational tools, proved largely unsuccessful. German losses were heavy, while British morale – though potentially vulnerable to effective bombing – remained mostly unaffected.
Packed with dramatic original illustrations, explanatory diagrams, 2D maps of the strategic situation and 3D maps recreating key missions, this book tells the story of Operation Steinbock and its crucial consequences. The Germans' last air campaign over England ended in late May 1944, with the Luftwaffe having lost hundreds of strike aircraft. Just days later, the Allies stormed ashore across the beaches of Normandy, and the Luftwaffe's depleted strike force could do little to stop them.
ACM 41 Operation Ro-Go 1943: Japanese air power tackles the Bougainville landings
By Michael John Claringbould
The first book in English to tell the full story of Imperial Japan's Operation Ro-Go, intended to take the offensive in the Solomons, but which turned into Japan's first line of defence against the Allies' Rabaul raids and Bougainville landings.
At the end of 1943, after a year of tumultuous air combat around Rabaul and the Solomons, 173 Japanese aircraft were sent to Rabaul from the three carriers of the First Carrier Division, Zuiho, Shokaku and Zuikakau. The plan was for them to participate in Ro-Go Sakusen (known in Western histories as Operation Ro, Ro-Go, or B). Launched with the stated aim of striking Allied air power and shipping in the Solomons theatre, the operation’s principal aim was to slow the American advance up the Solomon Islands chain by severing Allied supply chains. However, instead of challenging Allied air and sea power on Japan's terms, the operation instead became unexpectedly embroiled in defensive combat and then counterattacks, first to defend Rabaul from Allied air raids, and then to challenge the major Allied landings at Bougainville. In one fell swoop the operation was thus turned on its head, and transformed into a defensive one, not offensive.
In this book, the first in English to focus on Ro-Go Sakusen, Michael Claringbould uses rare Japanese primary source material to explain how the Japanese planned and fought Ro-Go Sakusen, and corrects the enduring myths of the campaign that are found in books that rely only on Western sources. He traces the unexpected and tremendous pressures placed on the operation’s units at Rabaul during this period, as the Japanese offensive also had to deal with surprise massive raids from Fifth Air Force bombers, and later US Navy carrier aircraft, and finally the strategic upset of the Bougainville landings.
Packed with previously unpublished photos, spectacular original illustrations, 3D recreations of specific missions, maps and explanatory diagrams, this book tells a previously untold but significant story of Japan's air war in the Solomons.
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