With the series hitting its 50th title this year, we have ten new Air Campaigns for you in 2024, covering some fascinating and often little-explored aspects of World War II, Cold War, and modern air power.
William Hiestand is following up his Stalingrad Airlift with two more Eastern Front titles, expanding the series’ overdue coverage of the theatre. We welcome a new author, USAF Command Historian Brian Laslie, whose Operation Allied Force promises to be a very well-informed account of NATO airpower at war, while Shlomo Aloni and Peter Davies delve into two very different Cold War subjects.
We have three Pacific War books this year, from a focused look at the varied campaigns against Tokyo, to the British Pacific Fleet’s Sumatra campaign, and Edward M. Young contributes his first title to the series, with an examination of the little-known September 1944 campaigns against the Philippines. And we don’t neglect Europe and the Mediterranean, with a book on the RAF’s Hamburg campaigns and – possibly my favourite, my introduction to aviation history having been Going Solo – one on the Axis campaigns in Greece and Yugoslavia.
Eastern Front 1945: Triumph of the Soviet Air Force
By William E. Hiestand
Illustrated by Jim Laurier
A detailed, illustrated account of the air campaign that accompanied the Red Army's final push towards Berlin, in which massed Soviet air power defeated the Luftwaffe's high-tech Me 262 jets and Mistel explosive-laden drones.
The last months of World War II on the Eastern Front saw a ferocious fight between two very different air forces. Soviet Air Force (VVS) Commander-in-Chief Alexander Novikov assembled 7,500 aircraft in three powerful air armies to support the final assault on Berlin. The Luftwaffe employed some of its most remarkable weapons including the Me 262 jet and Mistel remotely-guided, explosive-laden aircraft.
Using rare photos, 3D diagrams, maps and battlescene artwork, William E. Hiestand, a military analyst with a longstanding interest in Soviet military history, explains how Germany's use of high-tech weaponry and massed Soviet air assaults was not just the culmination of World War II air combat, but also pointed to how the future rivalry with NATO would play out. The VVS used powerful and flexible air armies to control and employ its huge force of aircraft – organizational and employment concepts that would shape Soviet plans and preparations for combat during the Cold War.
For the first time, this volume explains how air power helped win the war on the Eastern Front, and how victory shaped Soviet air power doctrine for the decades to come.
Yom Kippur War 1973: Airpower in Israel's hardest-fought war
By Shlomo Aloni
Illustrated by Mads Bangsø
The story of the hardest-fought air war of the jet era, where highly trained Israeli air forces almost met their match against Egypt and Syria's high-tech MiGs and missiles.
The Yom Kippur War, or October War of 1973 was perhaps the most intensive and savage air war in history. It pitted more than 300 Israeli combat aircraft – including modern US-built Phantoms and Skyhawks – against nearly 1,000 advanced Soviet-built jets from Egypt, Iraq, Libya, and Syria. During a war lasting 19 days, each side flew an average of more than 1,000 sorties per day, and both sides lost around one-third of their aircraft.
Drawing on his unparalleled primary-source research, Middle East aviation historian Shlomo Aloni explains how, in contrast to the striking success of the Six-Day War, Israel’s prewar plans failed in 1973. Since the Six-Day War, Israel had modernized its air force and planned in detail for this air war. But the IDF underestimated the effectiveness of the latest Soviet air defense technology and doctrine, particularly the new SA-6 missile system.
With archive photos, spectacular combat artwork, 3D diagrams, and maps, this book unravels the complexities of one of the fiercest air wars of modern times, and explains how Israel's eventual victory was achieved against the odds and at a grave cost.
Tokyo 1944–45: The destruction of Imperial Japan's capital
By Mark Lardas
Illustrated by Edouard A. Groult
The full history of how the United States targeted and destroyed the Japanese capital from the air, in a ten-month long campaign by the US Army Air Force and the US Navy.
In November 1944, the US Army Air Force launched a 111-plane B-29 strike against Tokyo, the first raid since the morale-boosting Doolittle Raid of 1942. From then until August 13, 1945, the United States would attack Tokyo 25 times, 20 from B-29s based in the Marianas and five from US Navy carrier task forces. The campaign included the single deadliest air raid in human history, when around 100,000 people were killed by the firestorm created by the Operation Meetinghouse raid of March 10, 1945.
This book, the first to examine the full history of the United States’ air campaign against the greatest target in Japan, looks at the USAAF’s and US Navy’s efforts to use air power to eliminate Tokyo’s strategic value to the Empire. It considers how the campaign developed from daylight bombing to firebombing and anti-ship mining, and finally how the target was handed over to the US Navy, whose carrier-based bombers and fighter-bombers continued to hit Tokyo during July and August 1945.
Using specially commissioned battlescenes, strategic maps and diagrams, this volume presents a detailed picture of how Tokyo was vanquished from the air.
Hamburg 1940–45: The long war against Germany's great port city
By Richard Worrall
Illustrated by Mads Bangsø
The first book to cover the full history of the RAF's air war against Hamburg, one of the most important target cities in Germany, beyond the notorious 1943 fire raids of Operation Gomorrah.
The city of Hamburg became synonymous with the destructive power of RAF Bomber Command when, during summer 1943, the city suffered horrific destruction in a series of four heavy firebombing attacks.
However, few know how varied or long the Hamburg campaign was. In this book, RAF air power expert Dr Richard Worrall presents the complete history of the RAF’s air campaign against Hamburg, a campaign that stretched well beyond the devastating raids of Operation Gomorrah.
Dr Worrall explains how Germany’s second city was an industrial centre of immense proportions and proved a consistent target for Bomber Command throughout the entire war from May 1940 to April 1945. It was home to oil refineries, U-boat pens, and ship-building and submarine-building yards, all sustained by a large industrial workforce. He outlines how Bomber Command evolved tactically and technically throughout the war, and how the Luftwaffe’s defensive capabilities would do likewise.
Drawing on a wide range of primary and secondary sources, and packed with photos, artwork, maps and diagrams, this is an important new history of the air campaign against one of the biggest targets of the air war in Europe.
Operation Allied Force 1999: NATO's airpower victory in Kosovo
By Brian D. Laslie
Illustrated by Adam Tooby
A focused history and analysis of perhaps the most complete air power victory in modern times, NATO's war against Serbian forces over Kosovo
On the night of March 24, 1999, NATO forces commenced an air campaign against Serbia in order to put an end to human rights violations that the Serbian Army were committing against the ethnic Albanian population in Kosovo. It was initially believed to be a 72-hour operation that stretched into a 78-day air campaign. This operation, codenamed Operation Allied Force, ended 78 days later when Yugoslavia's president, Slobodan Milosevic, capitulated and began withdrawing the Serbian army from Kosovo. It was perhaps the most complete airpower victory of modern times.
Despite this, there is a dearth of written histories that concern NATO’s air war over Kosovo. Using a wide range of primary and secondary sources., Dr Brian D. Laslie, one of the leading scholars on modern air power operations, offers a full exploration of NATO’s air effort. Although predominantly a USAF effort, the campaign also featured multinational contributions as well as significant naval aviation. Dr Laslie examines the aircraft, weapons and doctrine used, the Serbian air defences, and how the Allied forces planned and launched their air campaign, and how NATO had to rapidly adapt its initial plans to achieve success.
Operation Chrome Dome 1960–68: The B-52s' high-stakes Cold War nuclear mission
By Peter E. Davies
Explains how one of the most challenging operations of the Cold War was conceived and flown: the eight-year-long non-stop airborne patrol by nuclear-armed B-52s.
Operation Chrome Dome was an unprecedented nuclear deterrence operation by the USA. It was a hugely elaborate and costly response to the perceived nuclear missile threat from the Soviet Union.
In this book, Cold War aviation historian Peter Davies explains how, non-stop for eight years, Chrome Dome required 12 B-52 Stratofortresses to maintain a ceaseless airborne alert within striking distance of Soviet targets, flying orbits over the Mediterranean and north of Alaska. Each bomber stayed aloft for 24 hours, flying for around 10,000 miles until relieved by another. In each cockpit a top-secret Combat Mission Folder contained details of the routes and procedures for a nuclear attack on a pre-determined Soviet target.
Dramatic and controversial, the years of unrelenting Chrome Dome missions saw several B-52 crashes and losses of nuclear weapons, most famously the Thule crash in Greenland and the Palomares crash off Spain. Drawing on first-hand information from the personnel who flew and supported these gargantuan efforts, and packed with archive photos, superb new artwork, maps and diagrams, this book offers an authoritative history of how the USAF nuclear strike force flew its most challenging operation of the Cold War.
Operation Barbarossa 1941: The Luftwaffe opens the Eastern Front campaign
By William E. Hiestand
Examining the air campaign that spearheaded the biggest German invasion of World War II, and how the campaign evolved during the rest of 1941.
The German invasion of the USSR was the culmination of Hitler’s offensive campaigns, and the strength of the Luftwaffe was gathered from across Europe to be at the forefront of Operation Barbarossa. It faced a huge but badly equipped and badly prepared Soviet Air Force (VVS) of 20,000 aircraft, which was quickly shattered by the combat-hardened Luftwaffe.
But this is not the full story of the Barbarossa air war. In this book, Eastern Front historian William Hiestand not only recounts how the VVS was famously smashed in the Luftwaffe’s initial onslaught, but he also explains how the months between June and December saw other critical developments often less covered – Luftwaffe losses and a steady decrease in aircraft readiness under the pressure of long months of combat and advance during the summer; the evacuation of Soviet industry, including aircraft construction, from the western USSR to the Urals; and the slow rebuilding of the VVS. By the time the German columns stalled 25km from Moscow, the VVS actually had more aircraft operational at the front than the Luftwaffe, and better able to operate in the brutal winter conditions that soon descended on the front.
The Barbarossa campaign witnessed other operations of interest – the abortive VVS effort to strike Berlin and other strategic targets during the early days of the war; air operations over the Baltic and Black Seas; and Luftwaffe strategic bombing raids on Moscow. With artwork, 3D diagrams and maps, this book explores the full range of air operations as the Eastern Front campaign opened in 1941.
Greece and Yugoslavia 1940–41: Air power in the Balkan conquests
By Pier Paolo Battistelli and Basilio Di Martino
Illustrated by Graham Turner
The Greece campaign was launched by Italy alone in October 1940, the first large-scale campaign of the Italian air force outside North Africa, and the last major autonomous effort of the Regia Aeronautica. With the German involvement in April 1941, and with the invasion of Yugoslavia, the Balkans saw the last large-scale Axis air campaign in Europe before the invasion of the Soviet Union. It was also the campaign that saw expeditionary units of the RAF fighting alongside the Greek air force - most famously, the handful of Hurricanes that fought to the end from makeshift olive-grove airfields, among them the Hurricane ace Roald Dahl.
In this book, renowned historian Pier Paolo Battistelli and air power expert Basilio di Martino explain how this was a unique campaign. The Italians developed their air-to-ground support while at the same time carrying out, for the first and only time, an airborne operation. The Germans developed the tactics already effectively used during the 1940 campaign in the west, this time to face the new challenge of having to play an anti-shipping role like never before.
Sumatra 1944–45: The British Pacific Fleet's oil campaign in the Dutch East Indies
By Angus Konstam
With the war in Europe in its final stages, by 1944 the Royal Navy was able to put together a major force to join the campaign against Japan. The British Pacific Fleet was one of the most powerful fleets the Royal Navy has ever sent into action.
In this book, Angus Konstam explores how the first target of British naval power in the Pacific would be the strategically vital oil fields in Japanese-occupied Sumatra, part of the Dutch East Indies. Concentrating on the oil-rich island of Sabang, off the northern tip of Sumatra, Operation Cockpit was launched in April 1944, spearheaded by strike aircraft from British and American carriers. It was followed by several more raids, codenamed Transom and Crimson. As well as oil fields and production centres, Crimson also targeted Japanese airfields, naval facilities and troop concentrations.
By August more operations struck elsewhere in Sumatra, including Padang, and from November on, the main target of Operations Robson and Lentil was the refinery at Pangkalan Bandang. By now the Royal Navy’s force had been rebranded the British Pacific Fleet, and was now led by Admiral Fraser, victor of the North Cape battle. In January 1945, Operation Meridian effectively ended Japanese oil production, and Britain’s strategic goal was achieved. However, the raids continued, this time seeking to destroy Japanese air and naval forces, and to pin down enemy troops in a region that was being bypassed.
The Sumatra raids were a prime example of how naval air power could achieve key strategic ends. By denying the Japanese fleet the fuel it needed to function, this campaign helped bring about the collapse of Japanese power in the South Pacific. It also proved how the naval allies could cooperate successfully – so paving the way for the BPF’s participation in the capture of Okinawa alongside the US Navy.
Philippines 1944: The huge strikes that brought forward the Leyte campaign
By Edward M. Young
The little-known campaign fought by the US Navy's carrier aircraft in the Philippines in September 1944, whose success brought the invasion of Leyte forward by two months
During September 1944, the US Navy’s Task Force 38 carried out a series of huge airstrikes against Japanese forces in the Philippines. Seventeen carriers, wielding over 1,000 combat aircraft, made up the most powerful naval fleet assembled to date. Over a period of two weeks, TF 38 demonstrated the power and mobility of the Fast Carrier Task Force, hitting targets in the southern, central, and northern Philippines. The strike forces claimed 368 Japanese aircraft shot down and 446 destroyed on the ground, with over a hundred ships destroyed and significant damage to ground installations.
Soon overshadowed by the invasion of Leyte and the enormous Battle of Leyte Gulf, few detailed accounts of this campaign exist. But it was an important stage in the Pacific air war, for the relative ease of these raids prompted the planned invasion of Leyte to be brought forwards by two months.
In this book, the first to focus on the campaign, renowned Pacific War historian Edward M. Young draws upon after-action reports and other primary sources to explain how these September strikes impacted the reeling forces of Imperial Japan. By the time of these raids, the Japanese had no home advantage even when operating from land bases. The US Navy pilots who attacked were better trained, had more flying experience, and better aircraft, and the Philippines campaign demonstrated that nowhere was safe from the Third Fleet.