Aviation Books for Review

Email Daniel Yesilonis at daniel.yesilonis@casematepublishers.com to request your review copies. These are the newest titles available, but books not on this page may still be requested.


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Stalin's Falcons

Exposing the Myth of Soviet Aerial Superiority over the Luftwaffe in WW2

Dmitry Zubov

9781399095679

Air World

In this stunning exposé, Dmitry Zubov reveals the dark truth of the terrible losses suffered by Soviet flyers, the inferiority of the Russian aircraft on World War II's Eastern Front, and the almost slave-like conditions in which those aircraft were made.

The Soviet history of the Second World War, written under the conditions of a totalitarian regime, reflected all its features, with the result that it includes solid sets of patriotic fables that have no connection with reality. Many of the events of the war were distorted beyond recognition or even made up from beginning to end.

Archives containing original documents were available only to selected, specially verified KGB ‘historians’ who presented only the version of the war that was acceptable to the Soviet regime. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the process of declassifying archives and gaining wide access to information gradually began to reveal the terrible truth of the crimes of the Soviet regime. One of which, of course, was the incompetent leadership of the Red Army, which led to massive loss of life across the military and civilians alike.

However, the consequences of decades of Soviet propaganda had a strong impact on both Russian and world historical science. Because of this, not only Russian, but, unfortunately, many European and American historians found themselves repeating the Soviet myths they had been fed.

The history of Soviet fighter aircraft did not escape this fate. The tale of Stalin’s so-called ‘Falcons’, who allegedly shot down dozens and even hundreds of Luftwaffe aircraft, was persistently drummed into the heads of many generations of Russian people. These heroes, supposedly, flew Soviet fighters whose technical characteristics were many times superior to their German counterparts, with the result that Luftwaffe aces were reportedly afraid of meeting them in the air. These primitive propaganda clichés became a model for describing the actions of Stalin’s fighter aircraft.

In this stunning exposé, Stalin’s Falcons reveals the stark and dark truth of the terrible losses suffered by Soviet flyers, the inferiority of the Russian aircraft and the almost slave-like conditions in which those aircraft were made.

Operation Eldorado Canyon

The 1986 US Bombing Raid on Libya

Jim Rotramel

9781950394128

Harpia Publishing

The full story of Operation Eldorado Canyon by the men who planned and executed the mission.

If asked to pinpoint the beginning of the war against Islamic extremism, most would probably say September 11, 2001. However, there has been tension between Islamic autocracies and Western governments going back centuries. In the early 1980s, the boogieman du jour was Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi, who sponsored numerous acts of terrorism throughout Europe. After a series of attacks resulted in American deaths, U.S. President Ronald Reagan elected to strike back.

Operation Eldorado Canyon is usually remembered as a long-range mission by British-based F-111s. However, it was an amazingly complex mission that involved two U.S. Navy aircraft carriers and a unique air refueling plan that involved more than half of the then new KC-10 tanker inventory. For the first time, the events leading up to this operation are described, including previously unrevealed contingency operations, missions testing the ability of the F-111s to fly such an extended mission, and the mission itself from the crews that flew it.

The US Air Force classified ‘forever’ the names of the F-111 crews who participated in the mission. After a 20-year reunion of the participants at RAF Lakenheath, one of the planners, Jim Rotramel, began collecting their recollections. He was later able to expand the story to include the KC-10 part of the mission. Finally, thanks to being a member of the informal Old Geezer Fighter Pilots, he contacted the Navy veterans who participated in not only Eldorado Canyon, but also Operation Prairie Fire the month before that saw the first combat employment of the Harpoon anti-ship missile.

Like any post-mission fighter pilot debrief, this book lays out the conduct of the mission — the good, the bad, the ugly and even the humorous! It’s a truly unique insight into what it was like to plan and execute this daring mission and how it could have ended as a humiliating disaster at several points.

V Bombers

Britain's Nuclear Frontline

Tony Redding

9781911667872

Grub Street Publishing

A sobering and necessary read for all those interested in Cold War history.

This is the story of a very British deterrent. Much has been written about the V-bombers – the Valiant, Victor and Vulcan – but virtually nothing has been said about their strategic nuclear strike role. How would Britain’s small force of subsonic bombers have retaliated following a Soviet attack? Would they have succeeded in visiting thermonuclear catastrophe on their Soviet targets?

V-Bombers: Britain’s Nuclear Frontline in the Cold War is the first detailed account of the operational capability and credibility of the airborne nuclear deterrent during the peak years of confrontation with the Soviet Union.

This book is the product of seven years of research by the author, Dr Tony Redding. It includes a great deal of fresh material on V-Force weapons, war mission, targeting, vulnerabilities and tactics for attacking targets within Soviet Russia. Over 70 V-Force aircrew and ground crew were interviewed and over 300 operational research reports and other official documents reviewed. The author demonstrates how the V-bombers retained a unilateral capacity to destroy a small number of the very largest cities in the Soviet Union in the period until the handover of the strategic nuclear deterrent to the Polaris submarines in 1969.

This core retaliatory threat, centered on the destruction of Moscow and Leningrad, was judged severe enough to undermine Russia’s position in relation to the United States. In short, a few British V-bombers had the destructive capacity to destabilize the balance between the superpowers.

The book concludes that, within the first few hours, a small force of surviving V-bombers could have unleashed the explosive power of all Allied bombs dropped on Germany in six years of war.

A sobering thought and a fascinating and necessary read for all those interested in this period of history.

Combat in the Stratosphere

Extreme Altitude Aircraft in Action During WW2

Steven Taylor

9781399036931

Air World

The first book devoted exclusively to exploring the development and use of aircraft designed specifically for high-altitude operations in World War II.

In the summer of 1940, a new German aircraft began appearing in the skies over the British Isles. Unlike the rest of the Luftwaffe’s fleet in the Battle of Britain, these aircraft were flying at a height of 40,000 feet and higher – way beyond the reach of the RAF’s defending fighters.

These virtually untouchable intruders were examples of the Junkers Ju 86P. The world’s first operational combat aeroplane equipped with a pressurized cabin, they were able to reach a maximum altitude of 42,000 feet. The Ju 86P’s introduction ushered in a new era of aerial warfare, where combat would take place at previously unimaginable heights.

The Ju 86P was just one of many high-altitude aircraft projects developed by both the Axis and Allied powers during the Second World War. Others included the Vickers Wellington Mk.VI, Vickers Windsor, Boeing B-29 Superfortress, Junkers Ju 388, Heinkel He 274 and Henschel Hs 130. With pressurized cabins, such aircraft offered obvious tactical advantages: bombers and reconnaissance aircraft could operate safely above the maximum ceiling of the opposing side’s fighters, prompting intense development – especially by the British and Germans – of pressurized interceptors to meet the threat they posed.

Combat in the Stratosphere is the first book devoted exclusively to exploring the fascinating story of the development and operational history of aircraft designed specifically for high-altitude operations during the Second World War.

But this is not a book solely about the machines themselves. It also focuses on the men who flew these revolutionary aircraft, both in the testing phase and in combat, and the physical challenges these courageous airmen faced, as they pushed themselves to the very edge of physical endurance in this desperate race to reach ever higher altitudes.

Drawing on a wide range of sources, including air combat reports, British Cabinet files and Air Ministry documents, as well as first-hand accounts of aeronautical engineers and the pilots who flew these aircraft, Combat in the Stratosphere reveals the full story of this largely overlooked aspect of Second World War air warfare, high above the skies of Europe, North Africa, the Soviet Union and Japan.

Air Power and the Arab World, 1909-1955

Volume 10: The First Arab-Israeli War Begins, 15-31 May 1948

David Nicolle, Air Vice Marshal Gabr Ali Gabr

9781804514245

Helion and Company

This entry in the MiddleEast@War series is illustrated with abundant photographs from previously unused, or very rarely used, private and official sources.

Air Power and the Arab World, 1909–1955 Volume 10 continues the story of the men and machines of the first half-century of military aviation in the Arab world. It tells the story of the first two weeks of the first of the Arab-Israeli Wars – also known as the Palestine War – in May 1948. Whilst part of an ongoing series, this volume stands alone as a history of the period covered.

By that time, in Egypt, Iraq, Transjordan, newly-independent Syria, Lebanon, and, to a lesser extent, Saudi Arabia, significant efforts had already been made to strengthen these countries’ armed forces. Where Egypt, Iraq and Syria were concerned, these efforts included a determination to improve or, in the case of Syria, to establish their air forces. All three air forces were thrown into the First Phase of the Palestine War and, in the view of most subsequent commentators or historians, they had failed to perform as well as their government and populations had expected. However, closer investigation and the removal of layers of propaganda which have obscured the realities of this first Arab-Israeli War show that the Arab air forces performed better than is generally realized. Arguably, they had their limitations and weaknesses, and these had also become apparent as the fighting intensified and losses began to mount. All this was always clearly pointed out in Arabic sources, both official and unofficial, unpublished, or published only with limited circulation.

Volume 10 of Air Power and the Arab World focuses on day-to-day events on the ground, in the air and at sea during this hard-fought phase. It does so in remarkable detail because the authors have accessed previously unpublished Arab official military documents supplemented by translations from Arabic books and articles containing official and personal accounts by those involved. Perhaps the most remarkable such source is the Operational Diary of the Royal Egyptian Air Force’s Tactical Air Force based at al-Arish in north-eastern Sinai.

Air Power and the Arab World, 1909–1955 Volume 10 is illustrated by abundant photographs from previously unused, or very rarely used, private and official sources, and includes specially commissioned color artworks.

Decades of Rebellion

Volume 1: Mexican Military Aviation in the Rebellions of the 1920s

Santiago Flores, M Reyna Garza

9781913336387

Helion and Company

Richly illustrated throughout with original photographs and the @War series’ signature color artwork and profiles.

In the decades before Mexico joined the Allies in the Second World War, Mexican military aviation saw a rapid growth and intense involvement in rebellions, internal strife, and in operations against armed banditry.

Aviation was introduced to military service in Mexico during the Revolutionary period of 1910–1920 and the bloody showdown between the subsequent president Don Venustiano Carranza and General Victoriano Huerta. Based on this experience, a strong military aviation service was understood to be an important element for maintaining internal security and was subsequently deployed at almost every opportunity. Mexican military aviation helped defeat several armed uprisings, often through little more than its psychological impact upon the insurgents and the civilian population. In at least one instance, an armed rebellion sought to obtain aircraft of its own and to recruit foreign mercenary pilots to counter the government’s aircraft.

Three decades of small yet intensive combat operations not only proved to be a baptism of fire for many early Mexican aviators, but also played a crucial role in forming nearly all of the commanders that went on to lead the Mexican Air Force during the Second World War.

The Decades of Rebellion mini-series examines the use of air power in Mexico’s internal strife from the 1920s up until the 1940s. This first volume focusses upon the rebellions of the 1920s and includes the fall of Carranza, Cantu’s rebellion in Baja California, De La Huerta’s rebellion and the uprising of the Yaqui people, as well as giving a comprehensive overview of the Mexican Military Aviation Service in this period.

Decades of Rebellion Volume 1: Mexican Military Aviation in the Rebellions of the 1920s is richly illustrated throughout with original photographs and includes the @War series’ signature color artworks with profiles of many unusual aircraft types employed in Mexico at that time.

Messerschmitt Me 262

Development and Politics

Dan Sharp

9781911704058

Tempest

Dan Sharp examines the aircraft’s technical development in unparalleled detail as well as analyzing the ongoing discussions surrounding the Me 262 at the highest levels within the Messerschmitt company, the German Air Ministry and Adolf Hitler’s inner circle.

There are many myths surrounding the development of the Messerschmitt Me 262 jet fighter. Its unparalleled performance is beyond doubt; easily able to outpace its opponents and possessing the firepower to shred them in seconds. Yet immediately after the Second World War, rumours abounded that official indifference, technical shortcomings and interference from the Führer himself had crippled the Me 262’s progress and delayed its appearance on the front line until it was far too late.

Begun as a series of design concepts during 1938, the fighter would not enter mass production until the spring of 1944. Even then it failed to make any notable impact until the closing weeks of the war, when Me 262s began destroying USAAF bombers at an alarming rate. Exactly what happened to cause this apparently late start and who was responsible has until now been largely a matter of conjecture.

Grounded in research involving thousands of wartime documents spread across archival collections in three countries, Messerschmitt Me 262 Development & Politics finally sweeps aside the myths and provides a clear understanding of the real history. Sharp examines the aircraft’s technical development in unparalleled detail as well as analysing the ongoing discussions surrounding the Me 262 at the highest levels within the Messerschmitt company, the German Air Ministry and Adolf Hitler’s inner circle.

The Beagle Conflict

Argentina and Chile on the Brink of War Volume 2 1978-1984

Antonio Luis Sapienza Fracchia

9781804514665

Helion and Company

Illustrated with over 150 original photographs of the personalities, aircraft, ships and ground forces from Argentina and Chile during the conflict.

The Beagle Channel lies at the southernmost tip of South America and sovereignty over a number of islands there was hotly disputed between Argentina and Chile for much of the twentieth century. Navigation rights to this channel connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans were of considerable strategic value. In 1978, this dispute came within hours of breaking into large-scale open warfare between the two nations at sea, in the air and on land as Argentina launched Operación Soberanía (Operation Sovereignty).

Argentina’s plans involved far more than just seizing a few barely inhabited islands, however, and intended to strike deep into Chile in several locations along the length of the border between the two nations. In return, Chile planned to counterattack into northern Argentina to seize territory to be held as a bargaining chip for future negotiations. The plans of these two nations, with Argentina controlled by its Military Junta and Chile under the dictatorship of General Pinochet, threatened to draw in their Latin American neighbors.

The Beagle Conflict: Argentina And Chile On The Brink Of War Volume 2 1978-1984 provides a detailed examination of the militaries of Argentina and Chile at the time of the 1978 confrontation, of their plans and deployments for war, and of the negotiations and settlement through the offices of the Vatican that ultimately settled this dispute. This volume also examines further military developments up to 1984 as tensions between the Latin American neighbors eased.

The volume is illustrated with over 150 original photographs of the personalities, aircraft, ships and ground forces of the two nations, maps showing the plans for war, and specially commissioned color artworks.

Reprints and Paperback Editions

Pathfinder Pioneer

The Memoir of a Lead Bomber Pilot in World War II

Colonel Raymond E. Brim, USAF (ret.)

9781636244631

Casemate

"...this is an excellent personal account of the war as seen from the cockpit of a B-17.” — The NYMAS Review

In this engaging book we see how an 18-year-old miner shoveling ore from deep in the ground in Utah suddenly found himself, only two years later, 30,000 feet in the air over Nazi Germany, piloting a Flying Fortress in the first wave of America’s air counteroffensive in Europe.

Like thousands of other young Americans, Ray Brim was plucked by the U.S. Army to be a combat flyer, and was quickly pitted against the hardened veterans of the Luftwaffe. Brim turned out to have a natural knack for flying, however, and was assigned to the select squadron developing lead Pathfinder techniques, while experimenting with radar. He was among the first to test the teeth of the Luftwaffe’s defenses, and once those techniques had been honed, thousands of other bomber crews would follow into the maelstrom, from which 80,000 never returned.

This work gives us vivid insights into the genesis of the American air campaign, told with the humor, attention to detail and humility that captures the heart and soul of our “Greatest Generation.” Brim was one of the first Pathfinder pilots to fly both day and night missions leading bomb groups of 600-plus bombers to their targets. At the onset of his missions in the spring of 1943, B-17 crews were given a 50-50 chance of returning. Each of his raids were nerve-wracking forays into the unknown; with struggles to survive the damage to his plane due to flak and German fighter attacks, in order to bring his 10-man crew home, often wounded but still alive.

Through Blue Skies to Hell

America's "Bloody 100th" in the Air War over Germany

Edward M. Sion

9781636244624

Casemate

“...enables the reader better to understand how and why things were the way they were in the skies of Europe in the Second World War. Very readable, surprisingly revealing.” — Aviation News

This book provides a comprehensive look at air war over Europe during the climactic year of World War II, combining firsthand experience with expert analysis. The centerpiece is a mission-by-mission diary of 1st Lieutenant Richard R. Ayesh, bombardier on a B-17 Flying Fortress, who flew with the 100th Bombardment Group, 13th Combat Wing of the 8th Air Force—the legendary “Bloody 100th.” He received the Distinguished Flying Cross, Croix de Guerre and the Air Medal with Four Oak Leaf Clusters, amongst others.

This book follows Ayesh’s progress from his youth during the Great Depression in Wichita, Kansas, which was rapidly becoming the air capital of the nation, to his arrival in England as a Lieutenant in a bomber crew assigned to assault the Third Reich.

Once in Europe, the author provides a look at the principles of American daylight strategic bombing, while relaying the overall military situation on the ground and in the air just after D-Day. This work is uniquely self-contained and covers all aspects of Air War in a clear, concise, yet nontechnical manner. Topics include photo-reconnaissance, munitions and bomb types, aircraft characteristics, fighter and bomber tactics, bomber formations, strategic target selection, radars, countermeasures and counter-counter measures. The unaltered diary of Lt. Ayesh is presented mission-by-mission, punctuated by tragedy and heroism, with explanations and commentary of the significance of events and actions described en route. The result is one of the most frank and exciting works on the air war over Europe to date.

There is no varnishing of words in this book, instead, after Lt. Ayesh is followed on his perilous return home in U-boat infested waters, the book assesses the effectiveness of US strategy in ultimately paralyzing the Nazi war machine. Finally, the complex moral issues raised by area and city bombing are explored with 21st century implications.