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Thursday, 28 June 2018

June 2018 Book Vote


June 2018 Book Vote, This month's Air Campaign book vote has been an incredibly close race and as we reach the final days of voting, it's anyone's game!

Schweinfurt-Regensburg Raids 1943: Eighth Air Force’s bruising “double-punch”

Under the Pointblank directive, intended to gain air superiority before D-Day by bombing Luftwaffe facilities, the ball-bearing factory at Schweinfurt and the Messerschmitt plant at Regensburg were high on the USAAF target list. But without an adequate long-range escort fighter, the B-17s would rely on the “double-strike” plan – hitting two major targets in the same operation, with the first raid drawing off the defending fighter force, to leave the second largely unmolested. But with 60 bombers lost and many more badly damaged, the experimental tactic proved costly. When Schweinfurt was attacked again later that year, even more bombers were shot down – proving that precision daylight raids desperately needed the USAAF’s upcoming P-51 Mustang escort fighter.

Iraq, Afghanistan, and Somaliland 1919–39: RAF counter-insurgency by biplane

Cash-strapped, but still with huge global responsibilities after World War I, imperial Britain turned to its newly independent RAF to police its restless colonies. With Somaliland in the grip of the Dervish Uprising, tribal rebellions in Iraq, and wars in Afghanistan, Waziristan, and the North West Frontier brewing, the RAF pioneered the expansion and refinement of air power between the World Wars – particularly the techniques of aerial counter-insurgency, but also air mobility and airlifts. In doing so the RAF learned many lessons about colonial warfare, with fascinating parallels to today. But it also mistakenly assumed many of these lessons would apply to the European theatre – part of the reason why the RAF entered World War II with misplaced confidence in its equipment and doctrine.

Ho Chi Minh Trail 1964-73: Cutting North Vietnam’s tentacles in Laos

Any possible victory in the Vietnam War depended on cutting the North’s supply lines to Viet Cong and regular NVA in South Vietnam – the “Ho Chi Minh Trail”. The air campaign against the Trail in northern Laos was Operation Barrel Roll. Much of Barrel Roll was improvised, highly secret, and sometimes completely unofficial. Antiquated but effective prop-driven A-1 Skyraiders and T-28s were used for close air support, including for CIA-backed tribesmen. Steel Tiger was the campaign further south. It was much better resourced – but still, the US had to devise methods for fighting an air interdiction war against near-invisible guerrillas, truckers and porters. This was the campaign that saw the first B-52 Arc Light strikes, and the introduction of the AC-47, the first in a long and fearsome line of American fixed-wing gunships.

Russian Strategic Bombing in World War I: The pioneers of the heavy bomber on the Eastern Front

At the outbreak of World War I, Imperial Russia’s air force was second only to France’s – and its fleet included the astonishing Sikorsky Ilya Muromets, the world’s first four-engined heavy bomber. Derived from an advanced 1913 luxury airliner, it was adapted into a bomber when war broke out. This being 1914, the heavy bomber had to be invented from scratch, but the Imperial Russian Air Service created a design both advanced and capable, with an internal bomb bay, fearsomely effective machine-gun defences, and accurate bombsights. It could also be used for photographic reconnaissance. It was a formidable weapon of war, able to bomb bridges, supply depots, troop concentrations and railway facilities with surprising – and shocking – accuracy. This book would be the story of the world’s first strategic air campaign, fought by these 80 huge aircraft on the Eastern Front for three years.

Stalingrad Airlift 1943: Goering’s broken promise to Sixth Army

The decision to keep Sixth Army defending Stalingrad, as the Red Army closed in, was based on the belief – and the promise – that the Luftwaffe could keep the army adequately supplied by air. This book would explain how the fateful decision was made, how the Luftwaffe tried, and why the campaign was lost. For despite a bitterly-fought battle by Luftwaffe transport units and their fighter escorts to fly as much into the besieged city as they could, the airlift failed. The freezing winter conditions, poor organization, and bad decision-making starved Sixth Army, and laid the foundation of the German defeat at Stalingrad and – ultimately – the beginnning of the end of the war.

Which option would you like to see published? Read more about this month's options and find out the results of May's vote by clicking here.

Osprey Publishing Ltd