The SBD Dauntless dive-bomber was a key cog in the US Navy's aerial arsenal throughout the Pacific War. Although a product of aviation design in the mid to late 1930s, the type soldiered on even as more advanced aircraft were appearing from American factories as the war progressed. Despite its classification as a dive-bomber and rather dated appearance, the SBD Dauntless could more than handle its own against the feared A6M Zero-sen - a regular opponent, especially during the first 18 months of the campaign in the Pacific. The SBD was credited with 138 victories in aerial combat (principally in 1942), 107 of which were fighters and the rest bombers. Seven SBD units claimed five or more aerial victories, with future ace Lt(jg) John Leppla of VS-2 being credited with four victories while flying from the carrier USS Lexington during the Battle of the Coral Sea in May 1942. The Zero-sen came to symbolise Japan's military prowess during the early stages of the war in the Pacific, and it quickly became the world's premier carrier-based fighter - a title it would hold well into 1943. The psychological impact of the Zero-sen was so great that all Allied fighters were judged by the standards set by it. The aviators flying the A6M in 1941-42 were amongst the most experienced fighter pilots in the world, and they claimed a significant number of the SBDs destroyed while trying to defend their carriers from attack during the Battles of Coral Sea, Midway and Santa Cruz in 1942. While one was a dive-bomber and the other a nimble fighter, both met in combat many times, with the Dauntless proving an elusive and deadly target thanks to the tenacity and skill of the pilots and gunners manning the Douglas aircraft. While the Zero-sen was credited with shooting down many SBDs, the rugged dive-bomber gave as good as it got and emerged, not surprisingly, victorious on many occasions.
This book examines these aircraft in detail, exploring their history and development and contains accurate descriptions of the combats between the SBD Dauntless and Zero-sen throughout the first four carrier battles of 1942 and the Solomons Campaign.
Since the end of World War 2, the tactical air war over Europe has been largely overlooked by historians and authors alike in favour of analysis of the higher profile strategic bombing campaign. Involving just as many aircraft as the daylight heavy bombing campaign, the fighter-bombers (principally of the Ninth Air Force) wreaked considerably more havoc on German ground forces. Indeed, Thunderbolt units undertaking such missions effectively complemented the strategic campaign, ensuring the defeat of Nazi Germany. P-47 pilots paid a high price to achieve this victory, however, as the German flak arm was well equipped (nearly a quarter of all war-related production was devoted to anti-aircraft weaponry) with weapons of various calibres to counter tactical air power's low to medium altitude threat. The USAAF four numbered air forces that saw action over the European continent suffered significant fighter-bomber losses to flak. The principle fighter-bomber from the summer of 1944 through to VE Day was the P-47D, with both dedicated ground attack units and squadrons that had completed their bomber escort tasking seeking out targets of opportunity across occupied Western Europe.
While heavy-calibre anti-aircraft fire was intended to both shoot down enemy aircraft and force bombers to drop their ordnance sooner or from higher altitudes, thus reducing bombing accuracy, low-altitude flak batteries put up a virtual 'wall of steel' for enemy fighter-bombers to fly through. Damaging a low-flying fighter-bomber made it easier for other flak gunners to track, engage and destroy it. Innovations like lead-computing gunsights gave gunners a higher probability of intercepting low-altitude fighters. Conversely, the appearance of air-to-ground rockets beneath the wings of P-47s gave pilots better standoff range and a harder-hitting punch when dealing with low and medium altitude flak units.
This volume analyses the tactics and techniques used by both P-47 fighter-bomber pilots and German flak gunners, featuring full-colour illustrations to examine the Allied tactical air power in Europe from 1943 and how German defences were overpowered by the air threat.
This absorbing study pits US Army National Guardsmen against Japanese soldiers in the uniquely hostile setting of the New Guinea campaign in World War II.
When Japanese forces attacked Pearl Harbor in December 1941, New Guinea - the world's second-largest island - was administered partly by Australia and partly by the Dutch East Indies. The New Guinea campaign (January 1942-August 1945) saw Japanese forces invade the island, rapidly capturing the key port of Rabaul and threatening Port Moresby, while US forces joined the defenders in increasing numbers. The uniquely demanding environment, and the savage nature of the fighting, meant that the campaign was among the most arduous of World War II for both sides. In this study, the Japanese forces and their US Army opponents, many of whom were National Guard units, are assessed and compared, with particular attention paid to combat doctrine, weaponry, tactics, logistics, leadership, and communications in the challenging setting of New Guinea. The role of US Army National Guard units and their Japanese opponents in three important battles are examined, namely Buna-Gona (November 1942-January 1943), Biak Island (May-August 1944) and the Driniumor River (July-August 1944).
An in-depth look at the struggle between the charismatic rebel commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, 'The Lion of Panjshir', and the Soviet forces who fought to control the Panjshir Valley in Afghanistan.
When the Soviets rolled into Afghanistan in 1979, they believed if they took the cities, the country would follow. They were wrong. The Red Army found itself in a bloody stalemate in the Afghan mountains, in the strategically vital Panjshir Valley, where they faced the most able and charismatic of the rebel commanders: Ahmad Shah Massoud, the 'Lion of Panjshir'.
Time and again the Soviets and their Afghan counterparts sought to take control of the Panjshir, and time and again the rebels either rebuffed their clumsy attempts or ambushed and evaded them, only to retake the valley as soon as Moscow's attention was elsewhere. Over time, the rebels acquired new weapons and developed their own tactics - as did the Soviets. The Panjshir was not just a pivotal battlefield, it also shaped the subsequent Afghan civil wars that followed Soviet withdrawal, and the military thinking that is still informing the new Russian military. Featuring striking colour artwork battlescenes and detailed maps of the fighting, this is a compelling study of one of the hardest fought struggles of the Soviet War in Afghanistan.