Spitfire Aces of the Channel Front 1941-1943
Osprey Publishing just released the latest installment in the Aircraft of the Aces series: “Spitfire Aces of the Channel Front 1941-1943”.
Typical of the Aircraft of the Aces series, this book is profusely illustrated with period (B&W) pictures, both of the airplanes and their pilots, plus 36 selected color profiles. The book also has many first hand narratives describing individual combats while keeping them in the overall context of the strategic situation.
The book is split into 5 main chapters, as follows
- Defense to Offence
- Leaning into Europe
- Greatest Air Battles
- The Endless Offensive
- Preparing for Invasion
The first chapter is very brief and describes the general strategy of “Rhubarbs”, “Rodeos”, “Circuses” and the organization of “Wings” which would typically have a strength of 3 to 4 squadrons
The second chapter covers the year of 1941, where for a good part the same adversaries of the Battle of Britain (Spitfire Mk.II and Bf-109E) faced each other with the main difference being that the Spits were the ones “short legged” and the 109s had the “home advantage”. Operation Barbarossa had an impact in the channel front as some Luftwaffe squadrons were withdrawn and Churchill ordered a non-stop offensive (to tie down as many Luftwaffe resources as possible), but this brought a high cost on RAF casualties.
The third chapter covers the year of 1942, where new mounts became common for both sides (Spitfire Mk.V, Bf-109F) and later that year the Fw-190 became the main Bird of Prey for the Channel Front. Still the Spitfire V could confront the Luftwaffe, as shown during Operation Jubilee (Dieppe Landings), which probably was the biggest air battle over Western Europe during the mid-war years. Late in 1943 the Spitfire IX was introduced to counterbalance the Fw-190 supremacy.
The fourth and fifth chapters cover the year of 1943, where the Spit IX, plus the resource influx of the USAAF helped change the tide while still the Luftwaffe remained as an extremely effective fighting force. Some changes started to happen in the overall organization of the RAF Fighter Command. They started to provide escort to the USAAF strategic raids, plus the foreseen invasion of Europe meant that there will be the need for a dedicated ground support force. During 1943 some RAF Fighter Command Squadrons were re-organized in preparation for the later known as “2nd Tactical Air Force”.
If you are an aviation history enthusiast you are going to enjoy reading this book. If you are modeler you will want to open that Spit V, Spit IX (or perhaps that Fw-190!) and peruse and maybe even build that kit.
I would like to thank Osprey Publishing and IPMS/USA for the review sample.