This compendium of stories about air battles of WWII certainly covers most of the aerial epics of that conflict.
This compendium of stories about air battles of WWII certainly covers most of the aerial epics of that conflict. Seen mainly through the eyes of the airmen who fought these battles, the narrative covers many differing aspects of WWII aerial warfare. We have Faith, Hope and Charity, the Gladiators that in 1940 gallantly kept the enemy away from Malta, Flying Fortress mass attacks on Schweinfurt and Regensburg, the Lancasters of 617 Squadron attacking the Mohne Dam, Swordfish helping to sink the Bismark, Kamikaze bombers at Iwo Jima and Sunderlands and Catalinas attacking U boats just to mention a few of the themes.
The book unfortunately lacks three things. There is no insight into the air war as seen from the German, Italian, Russian or Japanese points of view. Everything is either British or American. There are no maps where, in many cases, a simple sketch map would have greatly clarified the action as described, and there is virtually no passion. The author has an unhappy knack of converting a gallant and thrilling action (such as the Fleet Air Arm’s unsuccessful but valiant 1942 attack on the Scharnhorst and Gneisnau in the Channel, the Dambusters raid, and even D-Day into a somewhat stolid and unemotional account. Getting the facts over is of course important, but a little more emotion—more hint of the thrill and terror and excitement of these events would have added a great deal to this reader’s enjoyment of many of the chapters. James Allan.