Air Combat: Dogfights of World War II
This is a new, hardbound publication that is comprised of the contents of four previously-released volumes in the “Duel” series from Osprey. This compendium is edited by Tony Holmes, and includes:
- Part 1 (by Tony Holmes), Channel Clashes: Spitfire II/V vs Bf 109E (Duel 67)
- Part II (by Edward M. Young), Hell in the Pacific: F4F Wildcat vs A6M Zero-sen (Duel 54)
- Part III (by Dmitriy Khazanov & Aleksander Medved), Air War in the East: La-5/7 vs Fw 190 (Duel 39)
- Part IV (by Edward M. Young), Ill-Fated Defense of the Home Islands: F4U Corsair vs Ki-84 ‘Frank’ (Duel 73)
This book has been produced to very high standards, and it was a joy to hold and read through. The hard binding is extremely sturdy, and all pages have a nice semi-gloss finish that just looks and feels first-rate. Color paintings and profiles are done to a high standard as well, and photos are clearly printed.
There is a brief, four-page foreword by the editor, Tony Holmes, that has a quick synopsis of each of the sections. This is followed immediately by the four sections themselves. Although I have not read any of these particular volumes from the “Duel” series, I believe each has been reproduced completely as originally published. Considering there are only 4 “Duels” in this book, the editor has done a nice job of selecting topics from various fronts of the war, including the Pacific, Europe and Russia.
Clear, well-labeled black and white photos are on almost every page of this book. In addition, there are some gorgeous one- and two-page color paintings scattered throughout. Each Part also follows a similar format:
- Basic background of the particular theater of war situation
- Discussion of each of the machines involved, including type history (technical drawings and profiles are included here)
- The Strategic Situation (includes maps)
- The Men (training regiment, biographies of 2 pilots, and detailed ‘from the cockpit’ views are all present here)
- Combat (tactics, excerpts from flight logs/diaries and ‘through the gunsight’ artwork with text in this section)
- Analysis (basically an overview of how it played out)
- Aftermath (end result, what it meant in the bigger picture of the War)
Although written by different authors, the format of each Part is very similar and consistent. All made for a good and stimulating read, and I really liked the use of the paintings in the text to give a bit of a “you are there” feeling to the stories as I read them. If you are new to the series, or are already a fan, I think you will be pleasantly surprised by the contents. Considering the softcover Duel volumes go for about $20/each, getting four in this book for less than the cost of two individual ones seems like a very good deal to me. Highly recommend.
Thanks to Osprey Productions for the review copy, and to IPMS for allowing me to review it!