The second of Britain's four-engined bombers to enter frontline service during World War II (1939-1945), Handley Page's Halifax has forever lived in the shadow of Avro's superb Lancaster. However, it was a Halifax which became the first RAF 'heavy' to drop bombs on Germany when No 35 Sqn raided Hamburg on the night of 12/13 March 1941. Between 1941-45, the Halifax completed some 75,532 sorties [compared with the Lancaster's 156,000] with Bomber Command alone, not to mention its sterling work as both a glider tug and paratroop carrier with the Airborne Forces, maritime patrol mount with Coastal Command and covert intruder with the SOE.
One of the first Thunderbolt groups to see action in the European Theatre of Operations (ETO) with the US Army Air Forces, the 56th Fighter Group (FG) was also the only fighter unit within the Eighth Air Force to remain equipped with the mighty P-47 until war's end. Led by the inspirational 'Hub' Zemke, this group was responsible for devising many of the bomber escort tactics employed by VIII Fighter Command between 1943 and 1945. By VE-Day the 56th FG had shot down 100 more enemy aircraft than any other group in the Eighth Air Force, its pilots being credited with 677 kills during 447 missions. The exploits of this elite fighter unit are detailed in this volume together with photographs, their aircraft profiles and insignia.
Through Patterson's remarkable photography and Nijboer's interviews with veterans, "Gunner" allows readers to imagine what it must have been like to be an air gunner in the Second World War. 150 color photos plus historical b&w photos.
Aircrew on a bomber in World War II experienced a cold, tiring and perilous existence. The RAF flew at night, when the human spirit is at its lowest ebb and for many it did not seem prudent to think further ahead than the target, and then hope for a safe return. Daytime raids brought the fear of defending fighters preying on the massed formations of heavily laden aircraft as they struggled over enemy territory. The ground crew saw their aircraft heave themselves into the air and their imagination filled the silent hours until they counted in the returning aircraft and saw the ravages of the enemy defences and the hazards of foul weather. This is their story.
Despite all the works on airborne forces published since 1945, the full story of Britain's 'airborne armour' has remained untold. This book is intended to correct that omission. The story has two main strands - the project to fly tanks onto the battlefield to support airborne forces, and the history of the unit which operated those tanks and supported 6th Airborne Division in the ground role - the 6th Airborne Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment. The book is the result of considerable original research and contact with surviving members of 6th AARR. It contains the full development background of both airborne tanks, the British Tetrarch and American Locust, and also that of the Hamilcar glider. It examines rival or complimentary projects, in particular the German Me 321 Gigant glider, and analyses the extent to which the British airborne armour project was a success. The history of 6th AARR is traced back to the little known Special Service Squadrons of the RAC which were pioneers of armoured amphibious assault, and who saw action in the invasion of Madagascar in 1942. One of these squadrons became the Airborne Light Tank Squadron, which grew into the Airborne Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment in time for D-Day. This unit flew 20 Tetrarch tanks into battle on the evening of D-Day in the first ever assault landing of tanks from the air, and did the same 10 months later when 8 Locust tanks were landed as part of the massive Rhine crossing operation. 6th AARR also had a proud history in ground combat in Normandy, the Ardennes, and Germany, often forming the spearhead for the advance of 6th Airborne Division. The unit has a fair claim to be the 'forgotten regiment' of British airborne forces, a fate which this book aims to put right. Airborne Armour describes and analyses a unique unit of the British army and some unique military operations.