Night after night for six years of war, RAF Bomber Command's squadrons pounded away at the cities of Nazi Germany in a determined effort to bring the Third Reich to its knees. Pitted against Bomber Harris's aircrews and aircraft were some of the most effective and deadly defenses the world had seen up until then. For Bomber Command to launch a 'maximum effort' raid on the Ruhr by night, or a low-level strike on a target in enemy occupied Europe by day, it involved a huge amount of planning. Who decided what to bomb? Why, when and where were bomber airfields built? How was the overall command structure organized, from the Air Council down to individual squadron level? Who were the commanders and who were the men that made up the rank and file of the Command? How did the RAF train its bomber crews? What aircraft did they fly and what weapons did they use? How was a raid planned and once it was launched what happened? How was the effectiveness of a raid and bomber tactics analyzed afterwards? How did the RAF go about tracing the 'missing' (47,000 men 'failed to return' from operations)? How were damaged bombers repaired and made good again for operations? Useful appendices include a Bomber Command War Diary listing key events 1939-1945, squadrons and their commanders, an a-to-z of bomber airfields, and sample orders of battle from 1939, 1943 and 1945. Fully illustrated with some 300 photographs, the Bomber Command Operations Manual gives a compelling insight into the workings of one of the most powerful instruments of 20th century warfare.
Much has been written about the Royal Air Force during the Second World Warmemoirs, biographies, histories of Fighter and Bomber commands, technical studies of the aircraft, accounts of individual operations and exploits but few books have attempted to take the reader on a journey through basic training and active service as air or ground crew and eventual demobilization at the end of the war. That is the aim of James Goultys Eyewitness RAF. Using a vivid selection of testimony from men and women, he offers a direct insight into every aspect of wartime life in the service. Throughout the book the emphasis is on the individuals experience of the RAF the preparations for flying, flying itself, the daily routines of an air base, time on leave, and the issues of discipline, morale and motivation. A particularly graphic section describes, in the words of the men themselves, what it felt like to go on operations and the impact of casualties airmen who were killed, injured or taken prisoner. A fascinating varied inside view of the RAF emerges which is perhaps less heroic and glamorous than the image created by some postwar accounts, but it gives readers today a much more realistic appreciation of the whole gamut of life in the RAF seventy years ago.
The Halifax became the second of the new generation of four-engine heavy bombers to enter service with RAF Bomber Command in the Second World War. It flew its first offensive operation in March 1941 and by 1944 it had become the exclusive equipment for Bomber Command's 4 Group and 6 (Canadian) Group, as well as being used in smaller numbers by 100 (Bomber Support) Group. The Halifax flew on virtually all the main raids of the night offensive between 1942 and 1945 and the last occasion when Bomber Command Halifaxes operated in strength against the enemy was on 25 April 1945.
'The epic story of an iconic aircraft and the breathtaking courage of those who flew her' Andy McNab, bestselling author of Bravo Two Zero 'Compelling, thrilling and rooted in quite extraordinary human drama' James Holland, author of Normandy 44 From John Nichol, the Sunday Times bestselling author of Spitfire, comes a passionate and profoundly moving tribute to the Lancaster bomber, its heroic crews and the men and women who kept her airborne during the country's greatest hour of need. 'The Avro Lancaster is an aviation icon; revered, romanticised, loved. Without her, and the bravery of those who flew her, the freedom we enjoy today would not exist.' Sir Arthur Harris, the controversial chief of Royal Air Force Bomber Command, described the Lancaster as his 'shining sword' and the 'greatest single factor in winning the war'. RAF bomber squadrons carried out offensive operations from the first day of the Second World War until the very last, more than five and a half years later. They flew nearly 300,000 sorties and dropped around a million tons of explosives, as well as life-saving supplies. Over 10,000 of their aircraft never returned. Of the 7,377 Lancasters built during the conflict, more than half were lost to enemy action or training accidents. The human cost was staggering. Of the 125,000 men who served in Bomber Command, over 55,000 were killed and another 8,400 were wounded. Some 10,000 survived being shot down, only to become prisoners of war. In simple, brutal terms, Harris's aircrew had only a 40 per cent chance of surviving the war unscathed. Former RAF Tornado Navigator, Gulf War veteran and bestselling author John Nichol now tells the inspiring and moving story of this legendary aircraft that took the fight deep into the heart of Nazi Germany.
The 1944 Allied invasion of France was a combined effort, with land- and sea-based forces supported by a huge aerial task force, which included legendary aircraft such as the Spitfire, Mosquito, Dakota and Mustang. The force comprised the RAF, its commonwealth allies and the USAAF, which resulted in an eclectic mix of gliders, heavy bombers, fighters, ground-attack aircraft and transport aeroplanes. Illustrated with over 170 color images of modern-day surviving and restored aircraft, this book features many of the aircraft types that were involved in the operations surrounding the Normandy invasion, including the aircraft the flew on D-Day itself.
Between June 1940 and August 1943, RAF Bomber Command undertook a little-known strategic bombing campaign in Europe. The target was Mussolini's Italy. This air campaign was a key part of the strategic policy of Britain from 1940 to 1943, which aimed at securing Italy's early surrender. However, it posed unique challenges, not least of which was Italy's natural defences of distance and the Alps. The bombing campaign against Italy can be divided into a number of phases, with each one having its own specific goals such as affecting Italian war production or hindering the Italian Navy's war in the Mediterranean. However, each also furthered the ultimate aim of forcing Italy's final capitulation, demonstrating that the tactic of area-bombing was not just about the destruction of an enemy's cities, as it could also fulfil wider strategic and political objectives. Indeed, the intensity and frequency of attack was greatly controlled, and the heavy bombing of Italy was only ever sanctioned by Britain's civilian war leaders to achieve both military and political goals. The issue of target-selection was also subject to a similar political restriction; cities and ports like Milan, Turin, Genoa and La Spezia were sanctioned under an official Directive, but other places, such as Verona, Venice, Florence and, above all, Rome, remained off-limits. This fascinating title from British strategic and military history expert Dr Richard Worrall explores the political, motivational and strategic challenges of the campaign in full. His thorough analysis and meticulous research is supported by specially commissioned artwork, maps, and contemporary photographs.
This book offers a fresh approach to the debate on the RAF's bomber offensive by using modern strategic leadership theory as an analytical tool to examine the campaign. In particular, it looks at the legality and legitimacy of the offensive and explores the key interfaces between the military leaders, the politicians and allies. It also looks at the major controversies in the aims and objectives of the campaign and the personalities involved. Modern literature from the leadership field is used to consider the challenges facing those charged with the formulation and execution of the offensive. Aspects of the senior leadership disputes are also dealt with in the context of the leadership literature and in the wider context of the strategic challenges then facing Churchill, Sinclair and Portal. A multi-disciplinary bent to the book enables the reader to move beyond the narrow confines of military considerations to the thorough investigation of the legality, legitimacy and morality of the offensive.
Unlike any other book that has looked at air support for the British army in the Second World War, Strategy for Victory: The Development of British Tactical Air Power, 1919-1943 examines the highly contentious and protracted debate between the British army and the RAF over air support from the perspectives of the airmen - both the Air Staff in the UK and the RAF deployed on expeditionary operations overseas.
The Battle of Britain has held an enchanted place in British popular history and memory throughout the modern era. Its transition from history to heritage since 1965 confirms that the 1940 narrative shaped by the State has been sustained by historians, the media, popular culture, and through non-governmental heritage sites, often with financing from the National Lottery Heritage Lottery Fund. Garry Campion evaluates the Battle’s revered place in British society and its influence on national identity, considering its historiography and revisionism; the postwar lives of the Few, their leaders and memorialization; its depictions on screen and in commercial products; the RAF Museum’s Battle of Britain Hall; third-sector heritage attractions; and finally, fighter airfields, including RAF Hawkinge as a case study. A follow-up to Campion’s The Battle of Britain, 1945–1965 (Palgrave, 2015), this book offers an engaging, accessible study of the Battle’s afterlives in scholarship, memorialization, and popular culture.
Of the RAF's trio of four engines heavy bombers in the Second World War, the mighty Short Stirling was the first to enter service in August 1940. A total of 2,371 Stirlings were eventually built and flown by the RAF before the type was finally withdrawn from service in July 1946. From its first raid in February 1941 the Stirling was at the forefront of the night offensive against Germany. At the peak of its operational career with Bomber Command in 1943, 12 squadrons were equipped with giant bomber before unacceptably high losses forced its relegation to second line duties.
Noted aviation historian Robin Higham examines the evolution of the Armée de l’Air and RAF during the interwar period. Although France and England shared a mutual enemy in Germany, the development of the air forces of in each nation shared few commonalities. Higham demonstrates that the Armée de l’Terre dominated strategic and doctrinal planning in France. The resulting emphasis on traditional land warfare, combined with the volatility of French politics in 1920s, blunted the development of French air forces. By 1940, they were ill prepared, technologically inferior, and out manned when the Luftwaffe aircraft darkened the skies over the French countryside. Although the causes of the defeat of France in 1940 have been debated by historians, none have focused on the role and place of the Armée de l’Air in that defeat. Historians of France have been much more comfortable arguing about politics and the Armée de Terre. As Higham illustrates, however, it is important understand the impact of the development of the Armée de l’Air, its doctrine, equipment, personnel, and budgets. Comparatively, the success of the Royal Air Force in the skies over Britain was due largely to the fact that the independent RAF evolved into a sophisticated, scientifically based force, supported by consistent government practices. Higham’s thorough examination, however, finds the British not without error in the two decades that followed the Treaty of Versailles. But strong government support and technological innovation during this period paved the way for success once the war began.