Osprey's study of Britain's infantry tactics used during the Napoleonic Wars (1799-1815). The British Army's major campaigns against Napoleon were fought between 1808 and 1813 in the Peninsula (Portugal, Spain, and finally southern France), followed in 1815 by the brief but climactic Waterloo campaign. The British Army was small by continental standards, but it consistently out-fought larger French armies, never losing a major open-field action. Its cavalry and artillery were standard; but its infantry which unlike foreign armies, was entirely made up of volunteers, achieved unique results. Their tactics were brought to a peak of professional perfection by Wellington, but commentators still consistently over-simplify the explanation for his unmatched series of victories. This book will examine the contemporary instruction manuals, and compare them with what actually happened in specific battles, drawing upon a mass of quotations from eyewitnesses. Under other generals who failed to grasp the essentials, the British infantry could be beaten (occasionally) by both the French, and by the Americans; but it was Wellington's perfect employment of their tactical strengths that made them unstoppable. With a detailed look at the effective use of terrain, line vs column maneuvers, and fortification assaults, Philip Haythornthwaite reveals the outstanding tactics of Wellington's army that converted volunteers into war-winning professionals.
Steven Zaloga offers up a rigorous and absorbing study of the first major Allied operation in Normandy after the D-Day landings - the capture of Cherbourg. Blending expert analysis, specially commissioned artwork and illustrative maps, this book tells the story of a quintessential example of Coastal attack and defense. Cherbourg was recognized by both The German and Allied High commands as crucial to the Allied foothold in Normandy - it was the nearest major port and was desperately needed by the Allies for major logistical operations to support their forces on long stretches of open beach. Hitler, on the other hand, declared Cherbourg to be a 'Festung' (fortress), a designation everyone knew to mean that its defenders were to fight to the last man. After a gruelling struggle involving several distinct tactical phases designed to overcome the different elements of Cherbourg's defence, the campaign resulted in a bittersweet Allied victory, the drama and significance of which are explained in full in this work.
It has been said in China that a city without a wall would be as inconceivable as a house without a roof. Even the smallest village invariably had some form of defensive wall, while the Great Wall of China was an attempt to build a barrier along the most vulnerable border of the entire country. Yet the finest examples of walled communities were China's walled cities, whose defensive architecture surpassed anything along the Great Wall. This book traces the evolution of the walled city from the 3,000 year old remains of the beaten earth walls of the Shang dynasty to the huge stone fortifications of the Ming dynasty. Stephen Turnbull, expert military historian, reveals the defensive structures from all the major ancient Chinese cities, and discusses how they protected entire communities, and not just castle dwellers, with colour artwork reconstructions, maps and archive photographs.
On a dark night in 1804, Lt. Stephen Decatur and a team of hand-picked men, slipped into Tripoli harbor in a small boat. Their target was the USS Philadelphia. Captured by the Barbary pirates four months previously, the Philadelphia had been refitted to fight against her former masters. Decatur's mission was to either recapture the ship, or failing that, burn her to the waterline. This book recounts one of the greatest raids in American military history, an event that propelled Stephen Decatur to international renown, and which prompted Horatio Nelson to declare it 'the most bold and daring act of the age'.
In 1945, with her fleet destroyed and her armies beaten, the only thing that stood between Japan and an Allied invasion was the numerous coastal defence positions that surrounded the islands. This is the first book to take a detailed look at the Japanese home island fortifications that were constructed during 1941-45. Utilizing diagrams, specially commissioned artwork, and sources previously unavailable in English, Steven Zaloga examines these defences in the context of a possible Allied invasion, constructing various arguments for one of the greatest 'what if' scenarios of World War II, and helping to explain why the Americans decided to go ahead with a nuclear option.From the Trade Paperback edition.
Dwight Eisenhower represented a fundamentally new type of military commander in the 20th century: commander as manager rather than the traditional warrior commander. Armies had become so large and military coalitions so dependent on politics that this new type of commander emerged. Eisenhower never fought in a single battle, but he commanded the most modern and powerfully armed force to fight in Europe. As Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force, Eisenhower had at his disposal not only the British, US, and French armies, but the RAF, USAAF, Royal Navy and US Navy-Atlantic. This book explores every aspect of his military career.From the Trade Paperback edition.
Of all the infantry small arms developed during World War II, one that generated the most interest was the German 'assault rifle', the StG 44 Sturmgewehr. This innovative weapon fired an intermediate cartridge much more powerful and long-ranged than the standard pistol rounds used in submachine guns, but smaller and lighter than a full-size 7.92mm rifle round, producing less recoil and enabling the soldier to carry more ammunition. The StG 44 and the Soviet weapon it inspired, the AK-47 in 7.62x39mm calibre, could still effectively and accurately engage targets on semi-automatic out to 300m, but when close-range firepower was needed could fire on full-automatic like a submachine gun.In the West, the NATO countries looked hard at new weapons to upgrade their own infantry arsenals and counter the AK-47. Although British and other designers developed their own prototype assault rifles chambered for intermediate cartridges, the Americans adopted the M14 'battle rifle' and forced a common full-length calibre, 7.62x51mm, on their NATO allies. Fabrique Nationale of Belgium designed a new military rifle, the Fusil Automatique Léger or FAL, as an assault rifle using a true intermediate cartirdge, but this innovative weapon also proved to be a successful battle rifle when adapted for the full-length NATO round. It was soon adopted by the military and police forces of no fewer than 93 nations around the globe, from the United Kingdom to Israel, and was manufactured under licence on every populated continent. It remains in production to this day and is regarded by most as the quintessential postwar battle rifle. In fact, the FAL dominated the militaries of the West to such a degree that its nickname became the Right Arm of the Free World. Roughly comparable in terms of size and weight to other contemporary battle rifles such as the American M14 and the German Heckler & Koch G3, the FAL proved to be reliable and well loved by its users. It performed reliably in a wide variety of small wars and insurgencies, in the hands of professional soldiers as well as those of hastily trained conscripts and essentially untrained guerrillas. It proved itself in harsh environments as varied as the cold, wet, featureless Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic, the snow and ice of Norway and northern Canada, the deep jungles of Vietnam and Malaya, the deserts of the Middle East, and the streets of Belfast. While thankfully never called upon for its original intent - facing down hordes of mechanized Soviet infantry on the plains of Western Europe - the FAL fulfilled every role it was asked to perform and remains a viable and well-respected weapon to this day.
The Island of Malta occupies a pivotal position in the Mediterranean, forming an outpost between North Africa and the soft underbelly of Europe. Such has been its strategic importance throughout the years that it has become one of the most fortified places in the world. Following the successful defence of the island during the Great Siege of 1565, the Knights Hospitaller built new walls and fortifications. These defences failed when Napoleon occupied Malta in 1798, and the island was retaken by the British in 1800. From this point onwards, Malta's defences were modernised throughout the 19th century and the island's final test came during World War II. This book examines all these different styles of fortification from the 16th to the 20th century.
This book gives a detailed and authentic account of the life and experiences of French warship crews from the French Revolutionary Wars (1792-1802) up to Trafalgar. It describes the recruitment and composition of crews, the different duties performed and the living conditions they had to endure at sea. Their experiences of fighting the British are covered in depth; from preparing the ship for action, to the violent discharges of heavy calibre guns, the often gruesome realities of sea warfare are revealed through pictures and contemporary testimonies.
George S. Patton Jr. was the iconic American field commander of World War II, and widely regarded as the US Army's finest practitioner of mechanized warfare. This title examines Patton's colorful life and leadership in three wars, with a concentration on his command in World War II. Despite his ability, Patton was thoroughly reviled by most GIs, partly due to his insistence on traditional military discipline in the ranks, but also because of his unwillingness to pander to the growing power of the press. This combination of ability and controversy have combined to make him one of the most interesting figures in American military history.Steven Zaloga's contribution to Osprey's newest series, Command, addresses this iconic figure from his early life to his life after war. Including an analysis of Patton's mind and motivations, strict training methods and the controversies surrounding Patton and his relationship with his soldiers and with Eisenhower, Zaloga's text is a concise but important look into the life of one of the most famous commanders of World War II.From the Trade Paperback edition.
The Bar Lev Line along the Suez Canal was born out of the overwhelming victory of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in the Six Day War of 1967. Devastated by their defeat, the Egyptian army began a prolonged campaign of artillery bombardments of Israeli positions causing many casualties. Accordingly, the IDF Chief of Staff, General Haim Bar-Lev, ordered the construction of a series of fortified positions and observation posts that were named the Bar Lev Line by the Israeli press, thanks to its inevitable association with the heavily fortified Maginot Line.This book examines the original 23 positions of the Bar Lev Line, known as Moazims (Moaz is 'castle keep' in Hebrew), each of which were between five and 15 kilometers apart and surrounded by barbed wire and minefields. With rare photographs and cutaway artwork, the design of these positions is described. Finally, the author analyzes the effectiveness of these positions when the Egyptians launched an offensive on Yom Kippur 1973. Manned by just 436 reservists the Moazims were quickly cut off and the Israeli defenders paid a high price with a casualty rate of almost 50 percent. Although widely criticized, the Bar Lev Line proved a success during the war of attrition, and in 1973 it was the political and military failures which allowed the Moazims to be surrounded, rather than the failure of the defensive line itself.
Focusing on the Italian Army in North Africa during World War II, which fought alongside the Afrikakorps under Rommel versus Montgomery and Patton, this title combines with the previous Warrior series books on the subject (and other Osprey titles) to complete the picture of the War in the Desert. Despite the attention paid to the Afrikakorps over the years, it was the numerically far superior forces of the Italian Army that held the line and formed the bulk of the fighting power available to the Axis powers during the War in the Desert from 1941 through to 1943. Their performance has been unfairly criticized over the years - the best units of the Italian Army were equal to those of the British and Germans - but they suffered from a lack of mobility and poor equipment that made it impossible for them to meet mobile British forces on anywhere near equal terms. Despite this, the Italian Army went through many changes through the period, with the introduction of a variety of elite units - armoured, mechanised and parachute divisions that did much to restore the fighting reputation of the Italian soldier in the Desert War. Their German allies belatedly acknowledged this with the redesignation of Panzerarmee Afrika as 1st Italian Army in February 1943. This title details recruitment, organisation and experience of the Italian forces in this theatre, casting new light on a force whose fighting power and capabilities have been unfairly ignored and maligned for too long.
Kursk 1943 focuses on the northern front and the battle of Kursk, and period of July 5th to August 18th, 1943, covering both the German offensive and the Soviet counteroffensive - Model's AOK 9 pitted against General Konstantin Rokossovsky's Central Front.After recovering from the Stalingrad debacle, Hitler intended to conduct a limited objective offensive (using the new Panther and Tiger tanks) in the summer of 1943 in order to eliminate the Soviet Kursk salient. He intended to conduct a classic pincer attack of the kind that succeeded during the 1942 Kharkov campaign and hoped that the resulting heavy loss of troops and material inflicted on the Red Army would give the Wehrmacht time to recover its strength. Hitler chose two of his best field commanders - Generalfeldmarschall Erich von Manstein and Generaloberst Walter Model - to lead the two pincers against the Kursk salient in Operation Zitadelle. Manstein would attack from the south with Heeresgruppe Süd, while Model attacked from the north with his heavily reinforced AOK 9.Model was not in favor of the offensive because he believed the Soviet defenses were too dense, but he dutifully mounted a full-scale offensive from 5 to 10 July 1943. Model's forces included two battalions of the new Ferdinand tank destroyers and a battalion of Tiger tanks, but were only capable of chewing its way through the first line of Soviet defenses. Although Model had failed to accomplish a breakthrough, his forces were far from spent. When the Soviets mounted their own Operation Kutusov to collapse the German-held Orel salient, Model had sufficient forces left to conduct a fighting retreat back to the Hagen Line. By 18 August 18th 1943, the Soviets had liberated Orel and pushed Model's forces back, but suffered over 400,000 casualties and the loss of 2,500 tanks. The Germans had succeeded in gaining a tactical victory that mauled three Soviet tank armies, although the Red Army had achieved an operational-level victory by liberating Orel.
On April 30, 1975, the final curtain of America's long involvement in the Vietnam War fell. North Vietnamese forces captured Saigon while thousands of South Vietnamese refugees attempted to flee on foot, boat, and aircraft. The American public believed that the events in Southeast Asia had finally come to a bitter end. Less than two weeks later, President Gerald Ford ordered air, naval, and Marine forces to conduct combat operations in waters off Cambodia. On May 12, communist Cambodian Khmer Rouge elements seized the S.S. Mayaguez, an American merchant ship, and its crew in international waters. This act of piracy created an incident where U.S. Marine Corps elements attempted to rescue the Mayaguez, one of the most controversial raids in recent history. This book will track every development in the mission , an eventual success that demonstrated American resolve to use military forces in foreign policy issues after the Vietnam debacle.From the Trade Paperback edition.
Developed to replace the Model 1892 Krag-Jørgensen rifle, the Model 1903 Springfield was a five-shot bolt-action rifle that introduced the .30-06 cartridge - the standard US round until the introduction of the 7.62mm NATO cartridge - and gave the US infantryman a durable, magazine-fed weapon so renowned for its accuracy that it remained in service as a sniping rifle for decades after it was superseded by the M1 Garand in 1937. Extensively used in World War I, the M1903 Springfield saw widespread combat in World War II and Korea. During World War I, US troops developed a formidable reputation for marksmanship aided by the accuracy of the M1903 Springfield. World War II saw the introduction of the M1903A3, which changed the rear sight so that it was closer to that of the M1 Garand, to allow easier training of troops who might be issued either rifle. Illustrated with specially commissioned color artwork and drawing upon veterans' recollections, this is the engaging story of the M1903 Springfield, an iconic rifle prized for its lethal accuracy that equipped US and other troops for much of the 20th century.
The battle of El Alamein in World War II saw the shattering of Germany's hopes for victory in North Africa. From this point on the end was inevitable, as Rommel's forces began the long retreat that was to end in Tunisia in May 1943 when, hemmed in by British and American forces on all sides, over 250,000 Axis soldiers filed into prisoner of war camps, a number comparable to those captured at Stalingrad.In the six months that passed between Alamein and the final surrender there was much hard fighting, as the defeated German and Italian Panzer Army sought to hold off the encroaching Eighth Army in a series of defensive positions across the Western Desert. Rommel, his health suffering from the strains of command, fought a number of major actions during this campaign - at El Agheila, Mersa el Brega, Buerat and Medenine - before his forces settled into the pre-war French defensive position the Mareth Line. All the way he was pursued by an increasingly confident Eighth Army under the command of General Montgomery, but never was Montgomery able to outflank the retreating German and Italian forces decisively, and Rommel was even able to divert forces to inflict a sharp defeat on the newly arrived US forces at Kasserine Pass in February 1943. This was one of Rommel's last acts in the Desert War as his health problems forced his return to Germany shortly afterwards. The stage was now set for the last great battle of the Desert War as the veteran formations of the British Eighth Army took on their foes in the Afrikakorps for one last time in the major set-piece battle for the Mareth Line.From the Trade Paperback edition.
General George Patton's most controversial campaign was the series of battles in autumn 1944 along the German frontier which centered on the fortified city of Metz. It took nearly four months, from September to December 1944, for Patton's Third Army to capture the Metz-Thionville fortified zone. In part, the problem was logistics. As was the case with the rest of the Allied forces in the European Theatre, supplies were limited until the port of Antwerp could finally be cleared. Also problematic was the weather. The autumn of 1944 was one of the wettest on record, and hardly conducive to the type of mechanized warfare for which Patton was so famous. However at the heart of the problem was the accretion of sophisticated fortifications. Metz had been fortified since ancient times, heavily rebuilt by France in the post-Napoleonic period, modernized by Germany in 1870-1914, and modernized by France during the Maginot effort in 1935-40. The Germans hoped to hold Metz with a thin screen of second-rate troops, counting on the impregnable fortifications. This book covers the entire campaign from beginning to end, offering an unbiased assessment of the success and failures of both the Allied and Axis efforts.
Immortalized in literature through such characters as C. S. Forester's 'Horatio Hornblower' and Patrick O'Brian's 'Jack Aubrey', the officers and midshipmen of the Royal Navy during the Revolutionary (1792-1802) and Napoleonic Wars (1799-1815) ran the ships that defended Great Britain against the threat of French invasion. This period saw the Royal Navy achieve its most momentous victories at the Nile, Copenhagen and Trafalgar, victories that laid the basis for a period of British naval and imperial supremacy that would last a century.The men who commanded these ships went through a long apprenticeship, often going to sea at the age of 12 or younger. They could serve for up to 60 years, progressing through the ranks in a service that rewarded success in battle and merit to a much larger extent than the contemporary British Army.This title, the companion volume to Warrior 100: Nelson's Sailors, describes the harsh realities of life in the Georgian Royal Navy for all ranks of officer from the lowest midshipman to the most senior admiral and covers the exploits of men such as Horatio Nelson and Thomas Cochrane who provided the basis for the fictional figures that remain so popular to this day.
General Omar Bradley was the premier US Army tactical commander in the European Theater of Operations in 1944-45. A West Point classmate of Dwight Eisenhower, Bradley was the quintessential US field commander of World War II, elevated to high command with little combat experience but a solid track record as a skilled planner and organizer. Bradley was part of a small cadre of highly skilled young officers groomed for higher command in the austere and bankrupt 1930s. Bradley began World War II in creating the new 82nd Division which would go on to fame as one of the US Army's premier airborne divisions. Bradley spent most of the early years of the war in George Patton's shadow, first as an assistant corps commander under Patton in Tunisia in early 1943, then as a corps commander under Patton on Sicily in July 1943. Patton's social blunders pushed him out of contention for the coveted spot leading the First US Army on D-Day, and Bradley's sterling performance on Sicily won him the position.Bradley was at the center of nearly all the major US Army victories in 1944-45 from D-Day through the final push into Germany. After commanding the US First Army in Normandy, Bradley was elevated to the command of the 12th Army Group, which contained the three main American field armies in the autumn of 1944. Along with that combat record came a string of controversies. Bradley's great victories like Operation Cobra in July-August 1944 were brought in to question by more dubious campaigns such as the miserable battles for the Hurtgen forest and the lesser-known Operation Queen in the autumn of 1944. Bradley's greatest blunder, failing to anticipate the German offensive in the Ardennes, was counter-balanced by a vigorous and skilled response which fatally injured the German army in the West. Beyond the performance of the US Army in the ETO, Bradley was also intimately wrapped up in other controversies, especially the internecine squabbles with his British counterpart, Bernard Montgomery.
On the Seven Seas is a set of wargames rules covering the high adventure and low morals of the world of the pirate. From Drake and his sea-rovers to Blackbeard, the Barbary Corsairs and the Wo-k'ou of the Far East, pirates have haunted seas across the globe, preying on port and vessel alike. Now you too can recreate the exploits of pirate captains or the naval commanders that hunted them. Whether you want skirmishes between crews on uncharted islands and in the alleyways of Caribbean ports or ship-to-ship duels that culminate in bloodthirsty boarding actions, the rules offer a quick-to-learn basic game. These small forces of buccaneers, commanded by captains and kept in line by trusted lieutenants, can also be scaled up with ease for larger engagements. Gameplay centers on two driving motivations that epitomize the pirate life - Fear and Greed. Cunning captains will have to balance these two elements, instilling fear in their opponents with bloodthirsty reputations, while keeping their own crews in line with the promise of loot and wealth.
In mid-September 1943, as the opening move of the Allied campaign to liberate the mainland of Italy, an Anglo-American invasion force landed on the beaches of the Gulf of Salerno, only a few dozen miles to the south of Naples. Italy had just surrendered, and the soldiers in the landing craft prayed that the invasion would be unopposed. It was not to be. The Germans had seized control of the Italian-built beach defences, and were ready and waiting. What followed was one of the bloodiest battles of the whole Mediterranean campaign - a ten day contest where victory hung in the balance. Over 80,000 British and American soldiers waded ashore at Salerno, and after bitter fighting they managed to establish a narrow and vulnerable bridgehead. The British enclave near Salerno was separated from the American sector around Paestum by a river, and German-held strongpoints. All attempts to link up the two parts of the bridgehead were thwarted by the German defenders, who were being reinforced faster than the Allies. Then the Americans were nearly flung back into the sea by a ferocious German counterattack, as the German commander on the spot used his veteran armour and Panzergrenadiers to deadly effect. Although driven back towards the beach, the Americans rallied and grimly held on, and the crisis passed. The ferocious ten-day battle at Salerno was eventually decided by a combination of Allied reinforcements, and secondary landings in support of the beleaguered Salerno bridgehead. The battle for Salerno changed the course of the campaign - by its end it was clear that wherever possible the Germans were going to fight for every inch of ground in Italy, and the campaign was not going to be the easy victory the Allied commanders had hoped. Using documentary records, memoirs and eyewitness accounts from all sides, Angus Konstam recreates the battle day by day, hour by hour. His methodically researched account offers a fresh perspective on a decisive battle that has largely been neglected by British and American historians in recent years.
The Siegfried Line campaign was one of the most frustrating and bloody series of battles fought by the US Army in Northwest Europe during World War II (1939-1945).In order to break through the German-Belgian border north of the Ardennes and eventually reach the Rhine, the First and Ninth divisions of the US Army dispersed themselves along the German Siegfried Line.The campaign kicked off in earnest in late September with the encirclement and eventual capture of Aachen, the first major German city to fall to the Allies. The paths to the Roer included not only the heavily urbanized area northeast of this city, but also the Hurtgen Forest along its southeastern flank. While a costly battle to seize the city continued throughout October, fighting also began in the forested area with initial attacks towards Schmidt.The German offensive to the south in the Ardennes derailed the Siegfried campaign for nearly two months and proved to be extremely costly. However, with Operation Grenade in February 1945, Ninth Army were finally propelled over the Roer River and were able to seize the vital Roer dams.Providing extensive coverage of the battle for Aachen and the fighting that ensued in the Hurtgen Forest, this title brings to life the Siegfried Line campaign which witnessed the US Army's most bitter fighting and set the stage for the final assault on the Rhine, leading the way into the heart of Germany.
The Russian PPD-40, PPSh-41, and PPS family of SMGs were a key part of Soviet infantry assault doctrine in World War II and beyond. Featuring expert analysis and an array of specially commissioned full-color artwork, this engaging study explains the history, use and development of Soviet wartime SMGs in detail. It gives particular focus to the tactical applications of these weapons in combat, and how they compared to firearms wielded by their German opponents. With numerous first-hand combat accounts, and detailed technical explanations, this book is ideal for both the general reader and the firearms enthusiast.The submachine gun (SMG) came to be the embodiment of the Soviet fighting spirit during World War II. From 1943 the Red Army's preference for close-quarters combat resulted in entire infantry units being equipped with nothing but SMGs. By deploying multiple SMG-armed companies and battalions, the Red Army was able to develop ferocious firepower in urban warfare and position assaults, the soldiers keeping within the SMG's effective range of about 150m to nullify the German skills in armoured and manoeuvre warfare, artillery support and aerial bombardment.Three particular designs dominated the war. First came the PPD-40, a weapon initially designed in the 1930s but rationalized for more efficient production in 1940. This 7.62mm firearm, with a cyclic rate of 800rpm, was in production until 1941, when it was replaced by the defining Soviet SMG of the war - the PPSh-41. Here was a weapon perfectly suited to wartime conditions. It was rugged, cheap to produce, simple to operate and delivered devastating close-quarters firepower. The story of the Soviet wartime SMG is completed by the PPS, designed for even cheaper and faster production, first put into small-scale production inside the besieged city of Leningrad in 1942. This remarkable weapon never replaced the PPSh-41, however, possibly as much because of political as production considerations. Both the PPSh-41 and PPS went on to post-war service with various communist states, seeing combat in the Korean War, the Indochina and Vietnam Wars and various colonial insurgencies in Africa and Asia.
Immortalized through their exploits at the battle of Thermopylae under the legendary Leonidas, as well as countless other victories throughout the classical period, the Spartans were some of the best trained, organized, most feared and lethal warriors of the ancient world. This small state, known to the Ancient Greeks as Lakedaimon, situated in the southern Argolid developed one of the most successful military forces of the Ancient World. Their unique society, where serfs (helots) and non-citizen labourers (perioikoi) left the pure-bred men of Sparta free to concentrate all their energies on warfare. Forbidden from engaging in any form of manual labour, these Spartan warriors were trained from an early age in a brutal regime that gave them the necessary discipline and endurance to withstand the pressures of phalanx warfare and endure all manner of hardships on campaign.This title will describe all aspect of the Spartan warriors life, from the earliest days of his training through his life in peace and war culminating in the battlefield experiences of these feared combatants. The Spartans saw widespread combat throughout the Peloponnese and beyond during the Greek and Persian and Peloponnesian wars, becoming the supreme Greek power following their eclipse of Athens until the battles of Leuctra and Mantineia saw their star wane.
One of the most enduring and vivid images of Vietnam is the helicopter. There is little doubt that the helicopter revolutionized warfare and how the war in Vietnam (1955-1975) was fought. Helicopters lifted troops, supplies, material, equipment, and vehicles. They conducted visual reconnaissance, command and control, medical evacuation, artillery spotting, fire support, and countless administrative tasks. They were aerial weapons platforms and aerial trucks. The 40,000 pilots were the men behind this revolution. Many helicopter pilots were thrill seekers to some degree. They liked fast cars and a fast life. To "party hardy" was a common term used to describe their lifestyle. They loved to fly and the war gave them the opportunity to do that. They were little concerned with the politics of the war, the conflicts back at home, and could care less about the drug culture, sexual revolution, the environment, and other social issues that defined their generation. A common aviator's phrase was, "Who needs drugs, I'm already high." Helicopter pilots experienced a broad range of combat, from air-lift, med-evac and fire-support to landing in 'Hot LZs', in which choppers would find themselves caught in deadly high-volume crossfires. Crew protection, other than armored seats for the pilots, was minimal. There was little armor to protect vital engines, transmissions, and fuel tanks. Crashes were survivable, but aircrews suffered relatively high casualties. Enemy action was not the only cause for concern. Of the 4,642 US helicopters lost in Vietnam, over half were due to non-hostile causes-accidents, mechanical failure, weather, and other non-combat causes. Aviators had to deal with long flying hours in a less than pleasant climate, heat, humidity, dust, rapidly changing weather conditions, spare parts shortages, and spotty maintenance. All of these accumulated to make the lives of natural risk-takers more dangerous. This book will reveal their experiences from their first deployment to the deadly thrill of combat in a war zone. Accompanied by poignant photographs and written by a Vietnam veteran, this is a crucial addition to our coverage of the conflict that defined the post-war generation in America.From the Trade Paperback edition.
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