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The first title in the Elite Units series to deal with an American bombardment group, this title focuses on the 303rd BG, dubbed the 'Hells Angels.' One of the very first B-17 units assigned to the newly created Eighth Air Force in England in September 1942, the 303rd was in the vanguard of the daylight bombing campaign through to VE-Day. Awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation in January 1944, the 303rd also had two of its aircrewmen presented with the Medal of Honor, Americas ultimate military decoration. Brian O Neill brings the group's colourful combat history to life with a mix of first-hand accounts, raw statistics and concise mission narrative.
The Japanese High Command realized that the loss of Okinawa would give the Americans a base for the invasion of Japan. Its desperate response to the invasion of Okinawa was to unleash the full force of the Special Attack Units, known in the west as the Kamikaze ('Divine Wind'), in the hope of inflicting punishing casualties on the US Pacific fleet that in turn disrupted the invasion. In a series of mass attacks in between April and June 1945, more than 900 Kamikaze aeroplanes were shot down. Conventional fighters and bombers accompanied the Special Attack Units as escorts, and to add their own weight to the attacks on the US fleet. In the air battles leading up to the invasion of Okinawa, as well as those that raged over the island in the three months, that followed, and in strikes on Japanese airfields in Kyushu (the base of the Special Attack Units), the Japanese lost more than 7000 aircraft both in the air and on the ground. In the course of the fighting, 67 Navy, 21 Marine, and three USAAF pilots became aces, destroying at least five aircraft between March and June 1945. In many ways it was an uneven combat. While many regular Japanese Army and Navy aviators volunteered for the Special Attack Units, a large number of the pilots in the Special Attack Units were inexperienced and only recently out of flying training. They also often flew obsolete aircraft. These less experienced pilots were no match for the Hellcat, Corsair and Thunderbolt pilots who were at the peak of their game. Indeed, many of the latter had been flying fighters for two or more years, and had previous combat experience. On numerous occasions following these uneven contests, American fighter pilots would return from combat having shot down up to six Japanese aeroplanes during a single mission. Indeed, during the campaign 13 Navy, five Marine Corps and two USAAF pilots became 'aces in a day'.
The Boeing B-17, which has come to epitomise the American war effort in Europe during World War II (1939-1945), took the fight to Germans from the late summer of 1942 through to VE-Day. Its primary operator in Western Europe was the 'Mighty Eighth', who controlled 27 bomb groups for much of the war. This second of two volumes covers the 14 Bomb Groups of the Third Air Division. First hand accounts, period photography, profile artworks and nose art scrap views bring to life aircraft from each of the groups within the Third Air Division.
Osprey's study of the B-17 Flying Fortress Units of World War II (1939-1945). Although the Fifteenth Air Force was dismissed as 'minor leaguers' by the Eighth Air Force, strategic bombers from this outfit had done a 'major league' job on Axis targets in southern Europe following its formation in Italy in November 1943. And the heavy bombers employed by the Fifteenth were of course the venerable B-17 and B-24. At its peak strength, the Fifteenth's B-17 force comprised six groups of four squadrons each, all controlled by the 5th Bomb Wing. Having been a part of the Fifteenth Air Force in 1944, author Bill Hess has long been waiting to write a definitive account on 'his air force'.
The development of the B-1B Lancer bomber was difficult to say the least. Originally conceived to fulfill a USAF requirement for an Advanced Manned Strategic Aircraft, the original B-1A concept aircraft was accused of being a white elephant, capable of performing nothing which could not be achieved at less financial and human expense than an intercontinental ballistic missile. Cancelled by the Carter administration and finally commissioned by President Reagan as the modified B-1B, the Lancer began its duties as a nuclear-armed bomber in the mid-1980s. The end of the Cold War (1946-1991) intervened and the jet was removed from its nuclear missions as a result of arms control legislation. However, the 1990s saw the metamorphosis of the Lancer into a potent conventional weapons carrier which has seen action in Iraq, the Balkans and Afghanistan. The Lancer has proved its critics wrong in demonstrating its use as a highly flexible and hard-working bomber, able to undertake diverse missions ranging from CAS to the targeting of weapons-of-mass-destruction installations.
Osprey's study of the B-24 Liberator Units in the CBI Theatre of World War II (1939-1945). The B-24 Liberator was the mainstay of the US Army Air Force's strategic bombing effort in the China-Burma-India (CBI) Theatre from 1942 until the end of the war in 1945. With longer range and a greater load-carrying capacity than the B-17, the B-24 was well suited to the demands of the CBI. The CBI's two air forces - the Tenth in India and the Fourteenth in China - each had one heavy bomb group equipped with Liberators. These two groups, the 7th and the 308th, carried the war to the Japanese across China and South East Asia, flying over some of the most difficult terrain in the world. The 308th had the added burden of having to carry its own fuel and bombs over the Himalayan 'Hump' from India to China in support of its missions. Despite the hardships and extreme distances from sources of supply, both units compiled a notable record, each winning two Distinguished Unit Citations.
This book is the story of a majestic bomber of the propeller era flying perilous combat missions against a sleek, nimble warplane of the jet age, the Soviet MiG-15. A very heavy bomber and a sky giant during World War II, at that time the B-29 was the most advanced combat aircraft in the world. By the time North Korea attacked its southern neighbour in 1950, thus starting the Korean War (1950-1953) the B-29 had been reclassified a medium bomber. Many of its crew members had fought their war and settled down to raise families and begin careers only to be recalled to fight another war on a distant Asian peninsula.
The ultimate piston-engined heavy bomber of World War II (1939-1945), the first production B-29s were delivered to the 58th Very Heavy Bomb Wing in the autumn of 1943. By the spring of 1944 the Superfortress was bombing targets in the Pacific, and by war's end the aircraft had played as great a part as any weapon in ending the conflict with the Japanese. Indeed, the final dropping of two atomic bombs from the B-29 convinced the Japanese to sue for peace. This book traces the wartime career of the B-29, as the aircraft went from strength to strength in the Pacific Theatre.
During the final years of the 20th century, the most significant break-through in military weaponry was the concept of Stealth technology, and the first mass-produced weapon to utilize this to perfection was the F-117 Nighthawk. Originally delivered in 1982, its existence was officially denied until the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, when it entered the public spotlight over the skies of Baghdad. Illustrated with stunning color photographs of the F-117 above Iraq, and complemented by numerous personal accounts from the pilots themselves, this book explores the history and combat experience of one of the most secretive planes ever built.
The entry of the United State's premier jet interceptor into the Korean War was triggered by the ever-increasing presence of the Soviet-built MiG-15 south of the Yalu River. The possibility of the USAF losing air supremacy over the Korean Peninsula was unacceptable. The 4th Fighter Wing got the call for combat in Korea. They were made up of a combination of new pilots right out of jet training and the older combat veterans of World War II vintage. This combination of pilot types wrote and re-wrote the text books on jet warfare. Of the 40 jet aces that the war produced, the 4th Wing boasted 24 of them. They also were the dominating MiG killer outfit with the USAF.
The 51st Fighter Wing initially flew the F-80C in the Korean War, but in 1951, the 51st brought in high-scoring World War 2 ace Colonel Francis Gabreski to assume command when it converted from the F-80 over to the newly arrived F-86E. His recruits included his elite 4th Wing pilots, and by the end of the war, the 51st had two pilots who achieved the status of "Double Ace" as well as the highest scoring ace of the war, Joe McConnell. This book describes the 51st Wing's tenure with the Sabre that led to their high scoring sprees of 1953.
The definitive account of F-4 Corsair Units deployed in the Korean War (1950-1953), this book tells the story of the 26 US Navy Squadrons, most of which were carrier based, and the 6 Marine Corps F-4 squadrons that flew combat missions against the North Koreans.Drawing from a vast repository of personal interviews with F-4 pilots, the author paints a harrowing picture of the deadly combat of this often forgotten air war. Included in this volume is the story of Lt Guy Bordelon, the US Navy's sole ace of the Korean War, who flew an F4U-5N night-fighter against the night raiders sent up by the Korean Air force. Backing up the text is a vast number of previously unpublished private photographs that bring the stories of these pilots to life. Finally the book contains extensive appendices that detail every unit deployment by carrier, air group, Corsair model and tail code. Also included is a detailed list noting every Corsair lost in the war, with tail number, pilot, date of loss and the unit.
In 1948 the USAF, Marine Corps and US Navy were concentrating on converting over to an all-jet force. When the Korean War started in June 1950, the USAF had built up a sizable jet force in the Far East, while the US Navy was in the early stages of getting F9F Panthers operational as replacements for its piston-engined F8F Bearcats. At about this time, the Marine Corps had also begun using the Panthers in limited numbers. Operating from aircraft carriers off the Korean coast, F9Fs helped stop the North Korean invasion within two weeks of the communists crossing the 38th Parallel. The Panthers, escorting carrier-based AD Skyraiders and F4U Corsairs, penetrated as far north as Pyongyang, where they bombed and strafed targets that the North Koreans thought were out of range. The Panthers also took the battle all the way to the Yalu River, long before the MiG-15s became a threat. The F9F's basic tasking was aerial supremacy and combat air patrols, but they also excelled in bombing and strafing attacks. The Marine Corps, with its two Panther squadrons, was also involved in close air support and interdiction near the frontlines. There were a total of 32 Panther squadron deployments during the war, along with several special detachments that operated the F9F-2/5P unarmed photo-reconnaissance versions.
Israeli delta fighters pilots have been credited with almost 300 kills between 1966 and 1974, and dozens of them became aces. The Israeli aerial kill exchange rate and overall air-to-air performance was phenomenal. Although the Israeli pilots were flying Mach 2 fighters, they lacked any modern radar equipment and their MiG-21 flying opponents should have had a performance edge over them. This book details their most signifcant engagements, many of which were essentially World War 2 style dogfights fought with jet aircraft. Because neither side had the combat edge to disengage at will most engagements were a life and death struggle and the introduction of air-to-air missiles and the Israeli Nesher was to prove decisive in this theatre.
Osprey's study of the use of MiG-21 Units in the Vietnam War (1955-1975). Having honed their piloting skills on the subsonic MiG-17 and transonic MiG-19, the Vietnamese Peoples' Air Force (VPAF) received their first examples of the legendary MiG-21 supersonic fighter in 1966. Soon thrown into combat over North Vietnam, the guided-missile equipped MiG-21 proved a deadly opponent for the USAF, Navy and Marine Corps crews striking at targets deep into communist territory. Most of the VPAF's 12+ aces scored their bulk of their kills in the MiG-21, which was then the best fighter produced by Russia's premier fast jet manufacturer, Mikoyan Gurevich. Well over 200 MiG-21s were supplied to the VPAF, and the numerous models and the schemes they wore are chronicled in great detail in this unique volume.
The most produced Japanese bomber of the World War II (1939-1945), the G4M saw action on every front from the first day of the Pacific conflict through to VJ-Day. The 'Betty's' very long range made it a key weapon during the opening year of the war. However, to achieve this, the aircraft was built with very little protective armour for its crew or fuel tanks, and Allied pilots soon exposed its extreme vulnerability. In the first in a series of volumes examining the key Japanese aircraft of WW2, Dr Osamu Tagaya details the G4M's extensive combat history, and lists all the units which operated the bomber.
The first aircraft to be purposely designed as a radar-equipped nightfigher, Northrop's P-61 Black Widow was heavily influenced by early RAF combat experience with radar-equipped aircraft in the years 1940/41 of World War II (1939-1945). Built essentially around the bulky Radiation Laboratory SCR-720 radar, which was mounted in the aircraft's nose, the P-61 proved to be the largest fighter ever produced for frontline service by the USAAF. Twin-engined and twin-boomed, the Black Widow was armed with a dorsal barbette of four 0.50-in Browning machine guns and two ventrally-mounted 20 mm cannon. This volume features all the frontline users of the mighty P-61, and includes many first-hand accounts from pilots and gunners who saw action in the Pacific, Mediterranean and Western Europe.
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