Aviation Century World War II

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A pictorial history of aviation from 1939-1945.

Beginning in 1939-40 with the German blitzkrieg and the Battle of Britain, aircraft repeatedly turned the tide of war. Their worth was proved in many roles besides bombing and airborne assault, including air defense, support of ground operations, maritime patrol, shipping strikes, transport support and reconnaissance. Warplanes became indispensable and revolutionized the character of war.

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Overview

A pictorial history of aviation from 1939-1945.

Beginning in 1939-40 with the German blitzkrieg and the Battle of Britain, aircraft repeatedly turned the tide of war. Their worth was proved in many roles besides bombing and airborne assault, including air defense, support of ground operations, maritime patrol, shipping strikes, transport support and reconnaissance. Warplanes became indispensable and revolutionized the character of war.

In Aviation Century World War II, stunning images of preserved and restored wartime aircraft are combined with archival photographs of the world's first well-photographed war to tell an unprecedented visual story of World War II. The unforgettable images are accompanied by insightful text that explains the strategic role of warplanes and describes the types and models of aircraft used by each nation, and re-tells the dramatic stories of the war.

Forewords for Aviation Century World War II are written by World War II veteran pilots Ramsay Potts and Don Lopez.

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Editorial Reviews

Canadian Defence Review
Stunning images... the unforgettable images are accompanied by an insightful text.
Austin American-Statesmen
Great stories and gorgeous photos of planes.
— Jeff Salamon
Booklist
Any readers interested in the history of flying will treasure these profusely illustrated books.
— George Cohen
EAA Sports Aviation
Expertly written... heavily illustrated... you'll find plenty of fascinating text and photography to pique your interest.
E-Streams
Excellent source for further reading and research and the photographs of the planes and cockpits are very good for reference.
— Kay Plesca
E-Streams - Kay Plesca
They capture the challenges, changes and close of World War II from the aeronautical perspective... a global look at aviation... excellent source for further reading and research and the photographs of the planes and cockpits are very good for reference.
Austin American-Statesmen - Jeff Salamon
Great stories and gorgeous photos of planes.
Booklist - George Cohen
Any readers interested in the history of flying will treasure these profusely illustrated books.
Library Journal
Aviation historian Heppenheimer (First Flight) begins with those aerial enthusiasts who predated the Wrights and ends with the deployment of Predator drones in contemporary Afghanistan and Iraq. Along the way his coverage includes the flying advances achieved during World War I, the postwar beginnings of civilian passenger service, the contributions of such aviation theorists as Billy Mitchell, two decades of barnstorming and air racing, and the impetus given to aviation as a result of Lindbergh's transatlantic flight. Later sections cover the significance of Allied air power's technological evolvement in winning World War II, the emergence of the jet age, and the use of laser-guided bombs, cruise missiles, GPS-based guidance systems, and JDAM bombs on the modern-day battlefield. Heppenheimer's narrative is well written and effectively highlights the largely black-and-white illustrations of aircraft and corresponding personalities. Although the photographs included are representative, subject specialists may argue that too many have been previously published. In 2003, Aviation Century: The Early Years chronicled aviation history's pioneers and planes. The series now advances with The Golden Age, the rapid development of aviation in the 1920s and 1930s, and World War II. Understandably, there is overlap between Heppenheimer's work, on the one hand, and Dick (American Eagles) and Patterson's two serial installments on the other, but where the Heppenheimer deserves credit for being comprehensive, the latter books succeed owing to their factual detail and eye-catching layouts. Dick's text carries the reader from the antics of the wing walkers and aerobatic pilots of the day to the sheer persistence of such distance flyers as Charles Lindbergh and the crew of the Southern Cross. The vying aircraft in these contests are captured in all of their antiquated beauty. The World War II volume begins with the Battle of Britain and concludes with the Japanese surrender following the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Patterson's (Hurricane: RAF Fighter) color photography combines with works of contemporary aviation artists to depict aircraft vividly from all major theaters of war. All three histories are recommended for aviation, transportation, and military collections and larger libraries generally.-John Carver Edwards, Univ. of Georgia Libs., Cleveland Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781550464269
  • Publisher: Boston Mills Press
  • Publication date: 11/6/2004
  • Series: Aviation Century Series , #3
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 9.25 (w) x 11.25 (h) x 1.12 (d)

Meet the Author

Ron Dick served with the Royal Air Force for thirty-eight years, retiring as an Air Vice-Marshal. During his career, he flew sixty different types of aircraft, accumulating over 5,000 hours of flight time. In addition to the five-volume Aviation Century series, he has co-authored five other books with Dan Patterson. He lives in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

Dan Patterson is the recipient of the first annual Combs Award, presented by the National Aviation Hall of Fame and business aviation legend Harry Combs to honor a photographer's contribution to the preservation of America's air and space heritage. Patterson's images are featured in fourteen books. He lives in Dayton, Ohio

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments 8
Foreword 10
Foreword 11
Photographer's Preface 12
Introduction 14
Part I Europe and the Middle East
Chapter 1 Europe, 1939-41 18
Chapter 2 The Mediterranean and Middle East 62
Chapter 3 The Eastern Front 88
Chapter 4 Strategic Bombing Offensive 108
Chapter 5 The Maritime War 184
Chapter 6 D-Day and Beyond 196
Part II The Pacific, China, Burma and India
Chapter 7 Imperial Japan 226
Chapter 8 Turning Point Midway 248
Chapter 9 Pacific Southwest 264
Chapter 10 The Islands of the Pacific 278
Chapter 11 War on the Asian Mainland 302
Chapter 12 Kamikaze and Firestorm 312
Bibliography 342
Index by Subject 347
General Index 350
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Preface

For I dipt into the future, far as human eye could see,
Saw the vision of the world, and all the wonder there would be;
Saw the the heavens fill with commerce, argosies of magic sails,
Pilots of the purple twilight, dropping down with costly bales;
Heard the heavens fill with shouting, and there rain'd a ghastly dew
From the nations' airy navies grappling in the central blue.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Locksley Hall, 1842

Introduction

Air Vice-Marshal Ron Dick

In 1939, when the curtain rose on the first act of WWII in Europe, none of the major powers had clear ideas on how air power might best be used to influence the conflict. The predominant interwar theories had suggested that strategic bombing would be air power's most significant role, with fleets of bombers assaulting the essential structure of an enemy nation, thereby undermining the morale of its people and destroying its capacity to wage war. Strongly represented though these ideas were, they were set aside by most nations. By 1939, only the United States and Britain were making serious attempts to establish strategic bombing forces. However, both had officially left behind the original concept of attacking civilian populations and were proclaiming that their bombers would strike with rapier-like precision at specific targets. Unfortunately, the Anglo-Americans had paid insufficient attention to the practicalities of such a policy. The available instruments of aerial destruction were soon shown to be inadequate for so demanding a task.

The strategic air power theorists were wrong, too, in that it proved impossible to bring an enemy nation to its knees by using air power alone. The relentless and increasingly heavy pounding of Germany from the air over six long years failed by itself to force a surrender, vital though it was as an element of the combined Allied offensive. Nevertheless, in 1945 the theorists felt justified in claiming that their principal conclusion had been correct; it was the timing of its application that had been wrong. They could point out that the practitioners had jumped the gun in 1939 by reaching for the ultimate goal before the necessary equipment was at hand. Once the intercontinental bomber and the atomic bomb arrived, the theory and the means to prove it came together. The destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki from the air finally broke the Japanese will to resist. Would that not still have been the case if such a Draconian response from the United States had been possible four years earlier, immediately after Pearl Harbor?

Wherever the truth of the strategic argument lies, it is undeniable that few of those involved in the use of air power in 1939 could have predicted the extent to which aircraft would contribute to the Allied victory. Interwar emphasis on the bomber had perhaps veiled the real versatility of air power. In the event, beginning in 1939-40 with the German "blitzkrieg" and the Battle of Britain, aircraft turned the tide of war again and again. Their worth was proved in many roles besides bombing, including such varied tasks as air defense, close support of ground operations, interdiction, airborne assault, maritime patrol, shipping strikes, transport support, and reconnaissance. The flimsy, unarmed and often scorned contraptions of 1914 grew into indispensable items of military hardware. In the process, they revolutionized the character of warfare and influenced every aspect of the worldwide struggle.

Ron Dick
Fredericksburg, Virginia
January 2004

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Introduction

For I dipt into the future, far as human eye could see,
Saw the vision of the world, and all the wonder there would be;
Saw the the heavens fill with commerce, argosies of magic sails,
Pilots of the purple twilight, dropping down with costly bales;
Heard the heavens fill with shouting, and there rain'd a ghastly dew
From the nations' airy navies grappling in the central blue.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Locksley Hall, 1842

Introduction

Air Vice-Marshal Ron Dick

In 1939, when the curtain rose on the first act of WWII in Europe, none of the major powers had clear ideas on how air power might best be used to influence the conflict. The predominant interwar theories had suggested that strategic bombing would be air power's most significant role, with fleets of bombers assaulting the essential structure of an enemy nation, thereby undermining the morale of its people and destroying its capacity to wage war. Strongly represented though these ideas were, they were set aside by most nations. By 1939, only the United States and Britain were making serious attempts to establish strategic bombing forces. However, both had officially left behind the original concept of attacking civilian populations and were proclaiming that their bombers would strike with rapier-like precision at specific targets. Unfortunately, the Anglo-Americans had paid insufficient attention to the practicalities of such a policy. The available instruments of aerial destruction were soon shown to be inadequate for so demanding a task.

The strategic air power theorists were wrong, too, in that it proved impossible to bring an enemynation to its knees by using air power alone. The relentless and increasingly heavy pounding of Germany from the air over six long years failed by itself to force a surrender, vital though it was as an element of the combined Allied offensive. Nevertheless, in 1945 the theorists felt justified in claiming that their principal conclusion had been correct; it was the timing of its application that had been wrong. They could point out that the practitioners had jumped the gun in 1939 by reaching for the ultimate goal before the necessary equipment was at hand. Once the intercontinental bomber and the atomic bomb arrived, the theory and the means to prove it came together. The destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki from the air finally broke the Japanese will to resist. Would that not still have been the case if such a Draconian response from the United States had been possible four years earlier, immediately after Pearl Harbor?

Wherever the truth of the strategic argument lies, it is undeniable that few of those involved in the use of air power in 1939 could have predicted the extent to which aircraft would contribute to the Allied victory. Interwar emphasis on the bomber had perhaps veiled the real versatility of air power. In the event, beginning in 1939-40 with the German "blitzkrieg" and the Battle of Britain, aircraft turned the tide of war again and again. Their worth was proved in many roles besides bombing, including such varied tasks as air defense, close support of ground operations, interdiction, airborne assault, maritime patrol, shipping strikes, transport support, and reconnaissance. The flimsy, unarmed and often scorned contraptions of 1914 grew into indispensable items of military hardware. In the process, they revolutionized the character of warfare and influenced every aspect of the worldwide struggle.

Ron Dick
Fredericksburg, Virginia
January 2004

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