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From Coral Sea to Midway to Guadalcanal and Santa Cruz, these fighters battled for air supremacy over the Pacific in World War II. The Grumman F4F Wildcat and the Mitsubishi A6M Zero-sen were contemporaries, although designed to very different requirements. Ruggedly built so as to survive the rigors of carrier operations, the Wildcat was the best carrier fighter the US Navy had available when the USA entered World War II, and it remained the principal fighter for the US Navy and the US Marine Corps until the more capable F6F Hellcat and F4U Corsair entered service in 1942-43. Designed to meet a seemingly impossible requirement from the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) for an aeroplane with a speed greater than 300mph, exceptional maneuverability, long range, and an impressive armament - for the time - of two 7.7mm machine guns and two 20mm cannon, the Zero-sen could out-perform any Allied fighter in 1941-42.In one-on-one combat the Zero-sen was clearly superior to the rugged Grumman F4F Wildcat in speed, climb, maneuverability, and service ceiling. The Wildcat, in turn, had better firepower and structural strength but was some 2,600lb heavier than its Japanese opponent, with only 250 additional horsepower; even so, the Wildcat pilots had no alternative but to take on their more capable Japanese opponents until superior American aircraft could be put into production. The battles between the Wildcat and the Zero-sen during 1942 represent a classic duel in which pilots flying a nominally inferior fighter successfully developed air combat tactics that negated the strengths of their opponent.
After Pearl Harbor, the US Navy's VF-9 carrier fighter group formed, seeing action in North Africa, The Marshalls, Kwajelein, Truk, the Marianas Turkey Shoot and on to Tokyo and Okinawa.VF-9 was activated in March 1942 as part of Carrier Air Group (CAG) 9, one of the many air groups the US Navy was hurriedly forming in the aftermath of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Equipped with Grumman F4F Wildcats, VF-9 first saw combat during the Allied invasion of North Africa in November 1942, where the squadron engaged Vichy French fighters over Morocco. Returning to the United States, VF-9 became one of the first squadrons to receive the Grumman F6F Hellcat and to deploy on the USS Essex, the first of its class of fleet carriers that would form the backbone of the US Navy's Fast Carrier Task Force. VF-9, the Hellcat, and the Essex all entered combat in the fall of 1943. In the hands of the squadron's pilots, and with other Navy fighter squadrons, the Hellcat proved superior to the Imperial Japanese Navy's A6M Zero, which had heretofore been the world's premier carrier fighter plane. During its second combat tour, beginning in August 1943, VF-9 participated in the initial stages of the US Navy's successful island-hopping campaign across the Pacific. Flying strikes against Marcus Island, Wake Island, Rabaul, the invasions of Tarawa and Kwajalein, and the attack on Truk, VF-9 helped prove the Hellcat as a fighter and supported CAG-9 in its relentless attacks on Japanese forces, helping to validate the concept of the multi-carrier task force and the new carrier doctrine that led to the US Navy's complete defeat of the Imperial Japanese Navy. During its second combat tour VF-9 claimed 120 Japanese aircraft and produced the first Hellcat ace in Lt(jg) Hamilton McWhorter and nine additional aces. VF-9 began its third combat tour in February 1945 aboard the USS Lexington, shifting to the USS Yorktown a month later. The squadron participated in the February strikes against Tokyo and played a significant role in the Okinawa Campaign from March to June 1945. Now equipped with the F6F-5 Hellcat, the squadron claimed 130 Japanese aircraft shot down. Ten VF-9 pilots became aces during the campaign, most notably Lt Eugene Valencia, who ended the war as the second highest scoring Hellcat ace and tied with Lt Cecil Harris as the US Navy's second highest scoring ace overall with 23 victories. Valencia's division became famous as the most successful fighter team in the US Navy during World War 2, claiming a combined total of 43 Japanese aircraft. In addition VF-9 had one of the US Navy's few nightfighter aces in Lt(jg) John Orth, who flew an F6F-5N Hellcat.
In the key Pacific War battles of the Marianas Turkey Shoot, Leyte Gulf, and in and around Japan itself (from late 1943 through to VJ-Day) the principal fighters involved were the F6F Hellcat and the A6M5/7 Zero-sen. The former was Grumman's successor to the pugnacious Wildcat, and its creation was shaped by the combat experiences of Naval Aviators flying the F4F against the A6M2/3 Zero-sen from late 1941. Blooded in combat against the Japanese in August 1943, the Hellcat went on to serve as the principal US Navy fighter on board carrier decks until war's end. Despite its lethality in the air when ranged against the best Japanese fighters, the Hellcat still retained docile handling qualities around the carrier deck. Naval Aviators flying the Hellcat claimed in excess of 5,000 kills in the Pacific, and more than 300 pilots achieved ace status on the type. The majority of these victories took the form of A6M5 Zero-sens, the most-produced model of the final Mitsubishi fighter - some 6000 were built from late 1943 through to war's end. The A6M5 reached front-line units just as the Hellcat was making its combat debut, the new version of the Zero-sen being based on the previous A6M3 model but with modified flaps and ailerons and thickened wing skinning. It was only meant to be an interim design pending the arrival of the A7M Reppu and J2M Raiden. However, terminal development problems with the former and technical issues with the latter meant that the A6M5, and re-engined limited run A6M7 (150 built), had to hold the line through to September 1945. By now badly outclassed by the Hellcat, literally thousands of Zero-sens fell victim to US Navy fighter squadrons in the final years of the war.
World War I aerial combat went through periods of alternating aerial superiority based on technology leaps. Sopwith Camels, Fokkers, and Spads became famous because they dominated later in the war, but this was an ongoing cycle for years. In the spring of 1916 the deployment of the RFC's FE 2 - with its rotary engine 'pusher' configuration affording excellent visibility for its pilot and observer, and removing the need for synchronized machine guns - helped wrest aerial dominance from Imperial Germany's Fokker Eindecker monoplanes, and then contributed to retaining it throughout the Somme battles of that fateful summer. However, by autumn German reorganization saw the birth of the Jagdstaffeln (specialised fighter squadrons) and the arrival of the new Albatros D scout, a sleek inline-engined machine built for speed and twin-gun firepower. Thus, for the remainder of 1916 and well into the next year an epic struggle for aerial superiority raged above the horrors of the Somme and Passchendaele battlefields, pitting the FE 2 against the better-armed and faster Albatros scouts that were focused on attacking and destroying their two-seater opponents. In the end the Germans would regain air superiority, and hold it into the following summer with the employment of their new Jagdgeschwader (larger fighter groupings), but the FE 2 remained a tenacious foe that inflicted many casualties - some of whom were Germany's best aces (including 'The Red Baron').
Different versions of the jet have provided the backbone of the frontline strength of the Iranian air force since the 1970s, and whole generations of Iranian pilots and ground personnel have been trained to fly and maintain them. Indeed, the type bore the brunt of active combat operations during the long war with Iraq. Iranian F-4 Phantom IIs were also some of best equipped examples ever exported by the USA. Some Iranian Phantom II pilots gathered immense experience on the type, flying it in combat for more than ten years. This book removes the veil of secrecy surrounding Iranian Phantom II operations since the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988).
The light and agile A-4 Skyhawk was the first modern American jet to be offered to the Israeli Air Force, marking the point where the US took over from France as Israel's chief military supplier. Deliveries began too late for the A-4 to fight in the Six-Day War (1967), but it soon formed the backbone of the IAF's ground-attack force. From 1969 to 1970 it flew endless sorties against Egyptian forces in the War of Attrition (1967-1970). Then, during the Yom Kippur War (1973), five squadrons of A-4s saw combat and 50 planes were lost as they battled against the Arab armored onslaught. Using previously unpublished first-hand accounts and rare photography from the IAF archives and pilots' private collections, Shlomo Aloni tells the definitive history of the IAF's A-4 squadrons, including the story of Ezra "BABAN" Dotan who became an ace with an unique double-kill of MiG17s.
The American manufactured F-4 Phantom II was used by the Israelis in air-to-ground missions, as an attack aircraft, and air-to-air missions as a fighter. Despite performing both roles with equal success the Israeli reliance on the Mirage III and Nesher delta fighters meant that the F-4 was used most regularly in its air-to-ground role. The kill total of the Israeli F-4 community was, consequently, a modest 116.5; significantly lower than that of other Israeli aircraft types in service between 1969 and 1982. A handful of aces were, nevertheless, created and, using first hand accounts, this unique book tells their stories. Many F-4 pilots had previously flown the Mirage III but most of the navigators were either inexperienced flying school graduates or had been transferred from transport aircraft. The decision to create such teams may have appeared an odd one and it certainly led to a number of interesting experiences but proved, ultimately, to be so successful that by 2010 the Israeli air force will have more two-seat combat aircraft than single-seat fighters. The F-4 experience was, therefore, crucial to moulding the future of the Israeli air force.
One of the decisive battles of World War II (1939-1945) in the Pacific, Iwo Jima was described by Lieutenant-General Holland Smith, Commander Fleet Marine Forces Pacific, as "The most savage and most costly battle in the history of the Marine Corps" - a titanic struggle that eclipsed all that had gone before. Situated halfway along the B-29 Superfortress route to the Japanese mainland, the island was of major strategic importance to the US Air Force, but also to the Japanese, 20,000 of whom were deeply entrenched in the island. This book provides a definitive account of the battle, from its origins to its hard-fought conclusion.
When the revolutionary Messerschmitt Me 262 jet fighter first appeared in the skies over northwest Europe in mid-1944, it represented one of the greatest challenges to Allied air superiority. The first group to solely fly jet fighters, Jagdgeschwader 7 was tasked with wrestling back command of the skies. Put almost immediately into action, despite fuel shortages, poor training and problems with the jet engine, victories quickly followed against both US and British aircraft. By the end of the war, the Jagdgeschwader had claimed nearly 200 enemy aircraft destroyed in daylight bomber raids during 1945. This book follows the history of the JG 7 unit, examining how their courage, determination and the most advanced aircraft in the world were simply not enough to ensure victory. In the final section of the book Robert Forsyth details how JG 7 were eventually defeated by gradual losses, restricted operating conditions, lack of fuel and overwhelming Allied fighter strength.
Jagdverband 44 was formed in February 1945 on Hitler's orders, to fly the Me 262 "Stormbird", the world's first operational jet fighter, and demonstrate its superiority. The unit was led by the legendary Adolf Galland, who recruited some of Germany's leading aces into it, to the extent that it was said that the Knight's Cross was its unofficial badge. JV 44 engaged the US Ninth Army Air Force over Bavaria and, with its significant speed advantage and powerful armament of cannon and rockets, the Me 262 proved a formidable interceptor in the hands of its expert pilots. In its brief operational existence, never able to get more than six jets in the air at any one time, this small unit achieved approximately 50 kills in less than a month. Unfortunately for the German defensive effort (though Galland himself was glad not to have prolonged the war) there were not enough Me 262s to have any overall effect on the Allied air campaign.This book is a dramatic record of a highly individual unit and an exciting early chapter in the history of the jet fighter. Four of the world's ten surviving Me 262s are major attractions at flight museums in the USA and recently constructed replicas will soon be a feature of air shows around the nation and the "experten" aces of the Luftwaffe have an enduring fascination.From the Trade Paperback edition.
This book examines the technology and strategy that defined the outcome of the battles between the King Tiger and the IS-2. The Soviets had been quick to develop tanks that could fight the Tiger on an equal footing, but these were developed as part of a completely different strategy than that employed by the Germans. The King Tiger was a modern marvel, and remained unmatched in one-on-one combat. Technologically superior, with greater firepower and better armour than the Soviet IS-2, the King Tiger was a formidable opponent. However, the IS-2 was lighter, more manoeuvrable and most importantly, far more numerous. With overwhelming numerical superiority the Soviets were able to simply overwhelm their opponents, negating the technical superiority of the King Tiger.
Soviet fighter aviation suffered terribly at the hands of the Jagdwaffe in the first year of the war in the east, and with the arrival of JG 51 and its Fw 190s on the Stalingrad Front in September 1942 things only got worse for the hard-pressed Red Army Air Force pilots. However, help was on its way in the form of the re-engined LaGG-3 fighter, which was fitted with a powerful air-cooled M-82 radial engine. Designated the La-5, the new fighter was capable of withstanding more punishment than the fragile LaGG-3, and it was also appreciably faster and had a greater rate of climb. It was more of a handful to fly, however, but the new generation of better trained pilots who were led into combat by the survivors of 1941-42 quickly found the La-5 (and, later, the improved La-7) very much to their liking. Arriving in the frontline in August 1942, the new Lavochkin fighters soon found themselves pitted into action on the Central Sector against the equally new Fw 190As of JG 51. The first clashes took place in November of that year, and from then on the Focke-Wulf fighter would regularly clash with its counterpart from Lavochkin.From the Trade Paperback edition.
The Gulf War bore witness to a number of deadly encounters between these two great adversaries. Heavily armored, highly mobile and capable of killing at over 2500m the M1 Abrams is, to this day, a veritable fighting machine. Superior to both Iraq's Soviet era T-55 and T-62 tanks, nearly all sources claim that no Abrams tank has ever been destroyed by enemy fire. Despite entering service in 1980, the M1 Abrams remained untested in combat until the Gulf War in 1991, where it was to be confronted by its archenemy the Iraqi-assembled Soviet-designed T-72. Entering production in 1971, the T-72 arguably outstripped its contemporaries in a balance of mobility, protection and firepower. By the time of Operation Desert Storm, however, the tables had turned and the tank suffered due to low quality ammunition and poorly trained crews. In this fascinating study, Steven Zaloga pits these two great fighting machines against one another, plotting the development of the Cold War until both tanks met in combat in the deserts of Iraq and Kuwait. From the Trade Paperback edition.
The M18 76mm Gun Motor Carriage was developed for the US Army's Tank Destroyer Command. It was the only tank destroyer deployed during World War II actually based on their requirements for speed and firepower. This book examines the development of this vehicle, the controversies over the need for high-speed tank destroyers, and its actual performance during World War II. Special emphasis is placed on examining its performance in its intended mission. Coverage also includes derivative vehicles of the M18 such as the M39 armored utility vehicle.
The M4 Sherman tank was the mainstay of the Western allies between 1942 and 1945. Fast and modern it was a big success and was transported as far afield as Russia and North Africa. The American Chief of Staff claimed in November 1943 it was 'hailed widely as the best tank on the battlefield today...'. However, by the Normandy invasion of June 1944 this was not the case: the new German heavy tanks such as the Panther and Tiger were completely outclassing the Sherman. This title covers the M4 version armed with the 76 mm gun, examining developments such as the HVSS suspension, using much new archive material.
Entering service in the early 1960s, the M60 tank was in production for 23 years and formed the backbone of US Army and Marine armoured units during the Cold War. Over 15,000 were built in four basic models: the M60, M60A1, M60A2, and the M60A3. Although the M60 had been phased out of US Army service by the time Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, M60s were amongst the first Allied tanks to enter Kuwait City with the US Marines. This book examines the design and deployment of the M60, a very widely used vehicle that is still in service today.
British jet fighters initiated jet vs. jet warfare when they fought Hitler's Nazi German V-1 attacks on London in World War II.The V1 attack on London began on the night of 13/14 June 1944 from bases in Normandy. On 29 March 1945 the last one to fall on Britain was shot down by gunners in Suffolk. A total of 10,500 missiles were launched, of which 3957 were destroyed by the defences - 3531 reached England, 2420 falling in the London area. No fewer than 6184 people were killed and 17,981 seriously injured. Indeed, it could have been much worse, for by the end of the war the Germans had manufactured close to 32,000 flying bombs. The defences put forward to guard against the V1 were formidable - 23,000 men and women with their guns, radar and communications networks were installed on coastal sites. Squadrons of Britain's newest Spitfires, the F XIVs, and Hawker Tempest Vs were kept at home to battle the new menace. While the Spitfire F XIV and Tempest V had excellent low-level speed and were able to catch the V1, there was one aircraft that was much faster. Rushed into action on 22 July 1944 to help counter the V1 threat, Britain's Gloster Meteor I was the first jet fighter to enter RAF service. At low and medium altitudes the Meteor was faster than its piston-engined contemporaries, which in turn made it perfectly suited to 'anti-Diver' V1 operations. On 4 August the Meteor scored its first V1 victory. Having just closed in on a flying bomb, Flg Off Dean of No 616 Sqn squeezed the trigger but his guns jammed. Using the Meteor's superior speed, he was able overtake the missile and, using his wing tip, he tipped the craft over and sent it crashing into the ground. This was the first time a jet-powered enemy aircraft had been destroyed by a jet fighter without a shot being fired! It was also the world's first jet versus jet encounter. As the only jet fighter squadron in Allied service in Europe, No 616 Sqn would go on to shoot down 13 V1s. A small number perhaps, but the interceptions between the V1 and Britain's Gloster Meteor were historic, and ushered in a new era of aerial combat.From the Trade Paperback edition.
Although the opposing forces of the Six Day War were both flying comparable third-generation Mach 2 jet fighters, the pilots were trained to different standards, and were expected to utilize different tactics. Using the latest research, first-hand accounts, and specially commissioned artwork, Shlomo Aloni tells the dramatic story of the dogfights in the skies over the Middle East.
The Nieuport 11 boasts an important place in the technology race against German aircraft in World War I aerial warfare. It eventually led Nieuport to produce the first plane flown in large numbers in aerial combat by the United States.The appearance in July 1915 of Germany's Fokker E I, armed with interrupter gear that allowed its machine gun to fire forward without striking the propeller, heralded a reign of terror over the Western Front that the Allies called the "Fokker Scourge". Among several alternative means for countering the Fokkers, until the Allies introduced practical synchronisation mechanisms of their own, was the French Nieuport - 11 a single-seat version of the Nieuport 10 sesquiplane ("one-and-a-half wing") mounting a Lewis machine gun above the upper wing, firing over the airscrew. Nicknamed the Bébé because of its comparatively small size, the Nieuport 11 was, though less robust than true biplanes, superior in structure and overall performance to the German monoplane. During 1916 the Nieuport 11, and its more powerful but more difficult to control stablemate, the Nieuport 16, battled a succession of improved Fokkers, the E II, E III and E IV, until the Germans abandoned the monoplane in favour of a new and deadly generation of biplane fighters. Even so, the Bébé's early successes also influenced the Germans to adopt sesquiplane designs of their own - most notably the Albatros D III and D V - while Nieuport also held on to the sesquiplane format longer than it should have. Fully illustrated with specially commissioned full-colour artwork, this is the absorbing story of the clash between these two innovative fighters at the height of World War I.
Osprey's Campaign title for the first battle of the desert war, Operation Compass, which was originally envisaged as a spoiling attack, combined with a reconnaissance in force to disrupt the Italian forces that had advanced into Egypt in September 1940. Lt Gen. Richard O'Connor launched what amounted to a British 'Blitzkrieg'. In less than two months the British forces swept 500 miles along the coast of North Africa. 7th Armoured Division raced across the desert to cut off the retreating Italians, and O'Connor's men destroyed 9 Italian divisions, and took 130,000 prisoners. In March 1941 General Rommel and the Afrikakorps landed at Tripoli.
Operation Nordwind is one of the lesser known campaigns of World War II (1939-1945), yet one of the more intriguing. Largely overshadowed by the Battle of the Bulge further north, Nordwind was the last great operation by the Waffen-SS Panzer divisions in the west, and the last time the Wehrmacht was on the offensive in the West. The campaign also highlights the difficulties of inter-Allied cooperation between the Americans and the French. This campaign has been extensively treated in German and French accounts, but is not well covered in English.
Thrown into action following the Torch landings of late 1942, the 'green' American pilots flying the obsolescent P-40F suffered cruelly at the hands of seasoned German fighter pilots flying superior machines. Those that survived learnt quickly, and a handful of Warhawk pilots succeeded in making ace by the time the Axis forces surrendered in North Africa. The action then shifted to Sicily and Italy, and the P-40 remained in service until mid-1944. This book charts the careers of the 23 men who succeeded in making ace during that time, despite the advent of much better P-47 and P-51 fighters.
The first USAAF fighters to engage the Japanese in World War 2, a handful of P-40s rose to defend Pearl Harbor from attack on the morning of 7 December 1941. Warhawk units were also heavily involved in the ill-fated fight to stem invading Japanese forces in the Philippines and Java between December 1941 and April 1942 and again in the Gilbert and Marshall Islands between January 1943 and March 1944. This book examines The Warhawk's wartime exploits and all of its aces including 'aces-in-a-day' Mel Wheadon and Joe Lesika.
Although the P-40 and the Bf 109 both joined the air war over North Africa at nearly the same time in early 1941, the venerable German fighter was already fully sorted with a combat career dating back to 1937 in Spain, while the American fighter was making its combat debut in the hands of the RAF's Desert Air Force. Both aircraft were low-wing designs powered by a single liquid-cooled engine of roughly the same output, but there the similarities ended. The Bf 109 was small and agile, capable of operating at high altitudes. The P-40's weight and engine limited it to middle-altitude operations, but it was more manoeuvrable than the Bf 109 and extremely capable in the fighter-bomber role. In typical encounters, Bf 109 pilots would climb above a formation of P-40s and then dive into battle, seeking to maintain the initiative and a speed advantage. The P-40 pilots would respond by trying to turn into the attack. The tide turned in the autumn of 1942, by which time USAAF P-40 squadrons had joined the fight in time for the final Allied push from El Alamein and the Operation Torch landings in Morocco.From the Trade Paperback edition.
Known for the distinctive "sharkmouths" decoration on their noses, P-40 fighters first saw combat in China during World War II.Their most common adversary was the Japanese Nakajima Ki-43, nicknamed "Oscar." Carl Molesworth describes and explains the design and development of these two foes, the products of two vastly different philosophies of fighter design. The P-40 was heavily armed and sturdy with armor protection and self-sealing fuel tanks, but paid for this with the loss of speed and a sluggish performance at altitude. The Ki-43 was a rapier to the battleaxe P-40 and the Ki-43 was immensely nimble, though with less firepower and durability. This book examines these two different fighters, and the pilots who flew them over China, with an action-packed text, rare photographs and digital artwork.
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