159th Review Air War Normandy- Richard Townshend Bickers

  • Air War Normandy

    Richard Townshend Bickers
    Pen & Sword Aviation; Reprint edition
    2015
    English
    X X X X X
    176 pg.
    ISBN-10: 1473837952 ISBN-13: 978-1473837959
    Review written by: Max Heldring

    Many books have been written about the landings in Normandy also known as D-Day. This book describes specifically the battle in the air before, during and shortly after the landings in Normandy. Both parties the Allies and the Germans are telling their stories and personal experiences in this book. Per example during the preparations long […]

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    Many books have been written about the landings in Normandy also known as D-Day. This book describes specifically the battle in the air before, during and shortly after the landings in Normandy. Both parties the Allies and the Germans are telling their stories and personal experiences in this book. Per example during the preparations long before the actual landings Coast Command patrolled over the waters of southeast and southwest England and was hunting intensively after the German U-boats. In advance it should be excluded that the many landing boats and escorting warship could be attacked by U-boats.

    Many distracting maneuvers were planned also by the RAF by dropping aluminum particles on a large scale to simulate big formations bombers in areas far south and north of the actual landings beaches. This meant very intensive and accurate formation flying to mislead the German radar systems.

    Also the bombing of areas east of Le Havre and over the Strait of Calais by the combined air forces as distraction before D-Day was actually as intensive as during the actual landings. To indicate that this was also a dangerous job the RAF and the USAF lost in the 9 weeks immediately preceding D-Day nearly 2000 planes and more than 2000 air crew cause by enemy fighters and antiaircraft guns.

    In every chapter of this book another facet of the air war in this period is told. Fascinating are the chapters telling about the enormous amount of planes that were operating during the landings period. In the day before, the day itself and the day after D-Day more than 25.000 flights were executed by Allied air forces. That was also the main reason that German fighters had no chance to attack and the Allies had achieved a 100% air superiority. However this resulted in many loses of allied planes caused by air collisions and friendly ack-ack.

    Can you imagine: on D-Day within a territory overhead the beaches and the sea between England and France of around 100 square kilometers there were flying a couple of thousand aeroplanes like fighters  bombers, transport and reconnaissance planes within an aerospace obscured by smoke of the battlefield and with marginal flying conditions. A hair rising situation.

    A chapter describes also the air operations of the German torpedo bomber squadrons attacking the English warships and especially the minesweepers that were poorly armed however these operations were not very successful. To bring the fighter squadrons closer to the front many improvised airfields were constructed direct behind the advancing troops. The pilots were living under very primitive circumstances certainly not better than the infantry. Everything had to be improvised like maintenance and the supply of parts, fuel and ammunition. A huge logistical puzzle and certainly not the usual luxury for our flying heros!

    The RAF fighters became meanwhile very experienced in ground attacks using tactics resulting in a very high accuracy of destroying  ground targets in occupied territory whilst avoiding heavy loses of civilians lives. A nice example of this is the bombing and destroying of the  Gestapo headquarters situated in the Euterpestraat in Amsterdam in 1944 by 4 Typhoons of the 263 squadron. The building was in the middle of a residential area and was completely destroyed without damaging the houses around. As a child I witnessed this,  living some hundred meters away and I will never forget the high pitching tone of the attacking Typhoons not knowing that some 70 years later I would read about this same event in this book.

    In short this is a book that describes all the facets of the less known events of the air war around D-Day involving the Allied and the German air forces  complimented with interviews and personal stories of the men involved. The book contains also a good amount of black and white photos from this period. Many happenings described were completely unknown to me and it was baffling how many planes were involved in this short part of the war history. Executed with a nicely illustrated soft cover and 174 pages of thrilling happenings it was nice reading. The enormous loses of lives and planes from both sides during this air war and the huge losses of lives by friendly fire and bombardments by own planes are impressive and pathetic.

    Read it and never ever forget it!


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