Short Stirling Units of World War 2

Published on
March 31, 2018
Review Author(s)
Book Author(s)
Johnathan Falconer
Other Publication Information
96 pages, 69 B&W photos and 24color profiles
Product / Stock #
COM 124
Company: Osprey Publishing - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Osprey Publishing - Website: Visit Site
Front Cover

This book is number 124 in the series and covers Short Stirling units in WWII. The Stirling was the first of the RAF’s 4 engine heavy bombers of WWII. The Stirling was a big, some would say ugly aircraft. The cockpit sat almost 23 feet above the ground. Designed to fill a 1936 request it was always hampered by having to meet the requirement that it fit within current hangers. The result was a 99 foot wingspan that affected the design’s service ceiling and load carrying capacity. The former would lead to large losses from enemy flak. Still the Stirling served the RAF as a bomber from 1940 until the last mission as a frontline bomber for the Sterling in September 1944. But this was not the end of its service. The Stirling also served as a glider tug, paratroop carrier and freighter.

The book contains five chapters as well as an introduction and appendices. The introduction covers the development of the type and a brief overview. Chapter one covers the beginning use of the Stirling as a bomber against continental Europe German strongholds and Italy.

Chapter Two covers the growth in size and numbers of Bomber Command and the use of the Stirling along with this. The difference in complexity between the two engine and four engine bombers meant that some Stirlings had to be pulled to help train the crews. In addition to training new crews, Stirlings participated in the Hamburg Fire raid as well as all nighttime bombing raids.

Chapter three discusses the Stirling’s use as an electronic countermeasures and jamming aircraft to protect the bombers from night-fighters. And other operations done by the highly secret 199SQ.

Chapter four covers the use of the Stirling in special duties. These included dropping weapons, equipment and special agents by parachute behind enemy lines. During D-Day Stirlings carried out diversionary bomb raids, towed gliders and dropped paratroops. They also helped resupply the efforts after D-Day.

The final chapter discusses more in-depth the Stirling’s use as a troop transport, paratroop dropship, glider tug and freighter. From D-day to Market Garden and beyond the Stirling soldiered on. Its role as a bomber was not yet finished. Even though official withdrawn from bombing service in September 1940, in January 1945 it was decided to use No. 38 groups Stirlings in a tactical bombing role supporting Rhine river crossing operations. After this it was back to transport and supply missions. The Stirling continued to serve into 1946 until finally in July when the last Stirlings were stood down.

The Stirling is a somewhat forgotten bomber that did journeyman’s work for the RAF throughout its service life. In 1/72 Airfix and Italeri have boxings for the modeler! Those of us that build 1/48 are still hoping for and injection molded kit of this aircraft as for now it is only available as a vacu-formed kit.

This is a good read. There is a lot of information in these pages and thoughtful analysis as well. The color profiles, for which this series is famous, live up to their reputation as always. I enjoyed this book and recommend it to modelers and aviation history enthusiasts alike. It gives a nice look at what is an undeservedly overlooked aircraft.

Our thanks to Osprey Publishing for the review copy and my thanks to IPMS/USA for the review opportunity


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