The Battle of Britain was a fight for survival against a seemingly unstoppable foe. With the German army poised to invade, only the fighters of the Royal Air Force stood between Hitler and the conquest of Britain. Losses were high on both sides, but the Spitfires, Hurricanes, Havocs and Defiants of the RAF began to take their toll on the overextended, under-protected Kampfgruppen of Heinkel He 111s, Junkers Ju 87s and 88s, and Dornier Do 17s.
Both sides learned and adapted as the campaign went on. As the advantage began to shift from the Luftwaffe to the RAF, the Germans were forced to switch from round-the-clock bombing to only launching night-raids, often hitting civilian targets in the dreaded Blitz. This beautifully illustrated study dissects the tactics and technology of the duels in this new kind of war, bringing the reader into the cockpits of the RAF fighters and Luftwaffe bombers to show precisely where the Battle of Britain was won and lost.
From the high-ranking officer who wrote the still-classified British military analysis of the war in Iraq comes the authoritative history of two conflicts which have overshadowed the beginning of the 21st century. Inextricably linked to the ongoing 'War on Terror', the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan dominated more than a decade of international politics, and their influence is felt to this day.
Blood, Metal and Dust is the first military history to offer a comprehensive overview of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, providing in-depth accounts of the operations undertaken by both US and UK forces. Brigadier Ben Barry explores the wars which shaped the modern Middle East, providing a detailed narrative of operations as they unfolded. With unparalleled access to official military accounts and extensive contacts in both the UK and the US militaries, Brigadier Barry is uniquely placed to tell the story of these controversial conflicts, and offers a rounded account of the international campaigns which irrevocably changed the global geopolitical landscape.
The Destroyer Escort was the smallest ocean- going escort built for the United States Navy - a downsized destroyer with less speed, fewer guns, and fewer torpedoes than its big brother, the fleet destroyer. Destroyer escorts first went into production because the Royal Navy needed an escort warship which was larger than a corvette, but which could be built faster than a destroyer. Lacking the shipyards to build these types of ships in Britain, they ordered them in the US. Once the US unexpectedly entered World War II, its navy suddenly also needed more escort warships, even warships less capable than destroyers, and the destroyer escort was reluctantly picked to fill the gap.
Despite the Navy's initial reservations, these ships did yeoman service during World War II, fighting in both the Atlantic and Pacific, taking on both U-boat and Japanese submarines and serving as the early warning pickets against kamikazes later in the war. They also participated in such dramatic actions as the Battle of Samar (where a group of destroyers and destroyer escorts fought Japanese battleships and cruisers to protect the escort carriers they were shielding) and the capture of the U-505 (the only major naval vessel captured at sea by the US Navy). The destroyer escorts soldiered on after World War II in both the United States Navy and a large number of navies throughout the world, with several serving into the twenty-first century. This book tells the full story of these plucky ships, from their design and development to their service around the world, complete with stunning illustrations and contemporary photographs.
The German battleship Scharnhorst had a reputation for being a lucky ship. Early in the war she fought off a British battlecruiser and sunk a carrier, before carrying out two successful forays into the Atlantic. In the spring of 1943, the Scharnhorst was redeployed to Norway. There, working in concert with other German warships such as the battleship Tirpitz, she posed a major threat to the Arctic convoys - the Allied sea lifeline to Russia. Her presence, alongside Tirpitz, forced the British to tie down ships in Arctic waters.
When Tirpitz was put out of action, and Hitler demanded naval support for the war in Russia, the crew of the Scharnhorst under Rear-Admiral Bey, had to act. In late December 1943, she put to sea, her target an Allied convoy passing through the Barents Sea on its way to Murmansk. Unknown to Bey, the British were using the convoy as bait to draw the Scharnhorst into battle. What followed was a two-day running battle fought in rough seas and near-perpetual darkness, ending with the destruction of the Scharnhorst and all but 36 of her crew, ending any serious German naval threat to the Arctic convoy lifeline.
In this illustrated study, leading naval historian Angus Konstam offers a fascinating new insight into this key engagement. He combines expert analysis with his unique knack for storytelling to offer a fascinating new perspective on the battle which sank the Scharnhorst.
The XB-40 and XB-41 were secret, little-known experimental modifications of the B-17F and B-24D, respectively, into heavily-armed bomber gunships sometimes referred to as "bomber escorters". They were developed during early World War II in response to the lack of a USAAF long-range fighter aircraft able to escort and protect regular B-17 formations making the round trip from Britain deep into Germany. Using many formerly-classified documents from his large microfilm collection, William Wolf presents their previously-unpublished history. It describes in depth for the first time the politics and development and associated problems of both escorter types.
Unfortunately, these "protecters" were found wanting in several ways - after the addition of guns and ammunition they became overweight and tail-heavy causing center of gravity problems and each encountered numerous delays in the development and delivery of their various armament additions and improvements, particularly the Bendix chin turret. In the end, the YB-40 participated in only 14 lackluster operational service test missions during mid-1943 before being withdrawn from service. The XB-41 Liberator never saw operational testing before also being cancelled for its poor performance.
The failure of the gunship concept left a huge hole in the capabilities of the Eighth Air Force. Their failure, however, spurred the adoption of the Merlin-powered P-51 Mustang, the outstanding escort fighter that was key to Allied victory in the air war over Europe.
In the twilight of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th-6th centuries, the elite of the field armies was the heavy armoured cavalry - the cataphracts, clad in lamellar, scale, mail and padded fabric armour. After the fall of the West, the Greek-speaking Eastern or Byzantine Empire survived for nearly a thousand years, and cavalry remained predominant in its armies, with the heaviest armoured regiments continuing to provide the ultimate shock-force in battle.
Accounts from Muslim chroniclers show that the ironclad cataphract on his armoured horse was an awe- inspiring enemy: '...they advanced against you, iron -covered - one would have said that they advanced on horses which seemed to have no legs'. This new study, replete with stunning full-colour illustrations of the various units, offers an engaging insight into the fearsome heavy cavalry units that battled against the enemies of Rome's Eastern Empire.
The conduct of combat operations in open order during the 18th and 19th centuries required an improved firearm with more accuracy than the standard-issue smoothbore infantry musket. Consequently, the appearance of a new type of regular light infantry soldier and an innovative military firearm, the rifle, marked a new age in the history of warfare. During the 18th century both Austria and Prussia fielded light troops armed with rifled firearms, while conflicts in North America involved the deadly long rifle and the innovative Ferguson breech-loader. Rifle-armed specialists also fought for several nations during the Napoleonic Wars.
However, it was the decades after 1815 that saw the appearance of successful rifled percussion firearms, paving the way for the widespread issue of rifled weapons. This development was accelerated by the Prussian adoption of the Dreyse 'needle gun' in 1848 and in 1849, the French Minie rifle was the first successful conical ball rifle concept to be issued to regular troops in large numbers. Illustrated throughout with stunning full-colour artwork, this study charts the development, combat use, influence and legacy of rifled firearms in a host of conflicts, from the War of the Austrian Succession of 1740-48 to the Mexican-American War of 1846-48.