Prolific military publisher Osprey recently has released a number of new titles for the World War II buff. Many of these are of utility to the WWII miniature wargamer.
* American Bomber Crewmen 1941-45 by Gregory Fremont-Barnes – An overview of the duties, typical activities, and actions of the US Army Air Force bomber crews. In particular, he focuses on the 8th AAF, a command celebrated for its contribution to ending the war in Europe. Well-written, with some usual photographs and drawings. I knew some WWII bomber crewmen, and the stories they told remain with me. This book augments those personal narratives in painting a vivid picture of what it must have been like for this high risk assignment.
* World War II Desert Tactics, by Paddy Griffith – The author is well-known to Civil War miniature wargamers, as his classic book on ACW tactics has been a commonly used reference work. In this new book, Griffith explores the tactical challenges faced by both the Axis and Allies during the desert war. From Rommel’s Germans to Montgomery’s Brits, Griffith examines the adaptations and changes both sides were forced to make as the war progressed – changes that shaped history. A widely regarded expert in battlefield tactics, Griffith’s latest work does not disappoint. This one is particularly good, although its brevity will leave the reader wanting more from this accomplished tactician and writer.
* Native American Code Talker in World War II, by Ed Gilbert – Ever see the Nicolas Cage movie “Windtalkers”? This book examines the reality behind the decision to employ Navajos and other tribesmen to encode messages during World War II, particularly in the Pacific Theater. Gilbert reveals that the first usage of these Americans was during World War I, and then explores their greater deployment (and value) during the Second World War. A fascinating little book with lots of illustrations!
* P-40 Warhawk vs Ki-43 Oscar: China 1944-45, by Carl Molesworth – The Chinese Theater does not get nearly as much press as the main Pacific Theater or the European Theater, and, as such, I was not knowledgable about the air war in the Chinese skies. The latest in a new series of books comparing the tactical and combat abilities of opposing weapons systems, this book contrasts the American P-40 against its main Japanese rival. An interesting concept that works well for a book series, the “duel” books are a welcome addition to the Osprey lineup.
* Liberation of Paris, 1944, by Steven J. Zaloga – A brief overview of the Allies’ recapture of the French capital, this book (as with Zaloga’s previous efforts) is well worth a read. He explores George Patton’s frantic race for the Seine River, an amazing feat that stuck a dagger in the heart of the German occupation of France. Operation Cobra broke the stalemate in Normandy in the month after D-Day. Patton’s Third Army moved faster than the German’s expected, and on August 24 liberated Paris. Profusely illustrated, this book is a great little overview and summation of the key activities and actions. The maps are well drawn and useful, and the graphics are excellent.
* Il-2 Shturmovik Guards Units of World War 2, by Oleg Rastrenin – Regarded by many historians as the finest attack aircraft in the entire war, this Russian plane was an exceptionally effective tank destroyer, as many German officers came to realize on the Eastern Front. The author, a leading authority on the Soviet airforce, presents a comprehensive overview of the origins of the plane, its design and key features, and its key roles and uses. Color plates illustrate the various combat markings of leading units that flew this effective combat warplane.
* Griffon Spitfire Aces, by Andrew Thomas – A worthy addition to the Osprey Aircarft of the Aces line, this book takes a look at both the Spitfire and its cadre of leading pilots, men who reached particular prominence at its controls. Thomas follows the deployment of the Spitfire and its subsequent usage in various campaigns and operations, and introduces the reader to a number of pilots who reached the status of “ace.” With 30 specially commissioned color plates, this book is an interested read.