Another addition to the deservedly popular Images of War series with brief introductory text and excellent captions and extended captions. This is another AWA book with a fantastic selection of rare images, covering the Luftwaffe’s long range maritime bomber – Highly Recommended
NAME: Air War Archive, Focke-Wulf Fw 200, The Luftwaffe's Long Range Maritime Bomber, Rare Luftwaffe Photographs From Wartime Archives FILE: R2934 AUTHOR: Chris Goss PUBLISHER: Pen and Sword, frontline BINDING: soft back PAGES: 156 PRICE: £14.99 GENRE: Non Fiction SUBJECT: WWII, World War II, World War 2, Second World War, Luftwaffe, air superiority, maritime patrol, maritime attack, maritime reconnaissance, U-Boats, wolf packs, convoys, MAC ships, escort carriers, CAM ships, convoy escorts, Mosquito, Beaufighter
IMAGE: B2934.jpg BUYNOW: tinyurl.com/y669ouew LINKS: DESCRIPTION: Another addition to the deservedly popular Images of War series with brief introductory text and excellent captions and extended captions. This is another AWA book with a fantastic selection of rare images, covering the Luftwaffe's long range maritime bomber – Highly Recommended The RAF had used its monopoly of British military aircraft very poorly between the two World Wars and although the Royal Navy regained full control of naval aviation, it did not extend to land-based and flying boat maritime patrol. This created a considerable challenge from the start of WWII where the Royal Navy had to rely on surface ships to escort convoys across the Atlantic and through the U-Boat blockade. In fairness to the RAF, their priority was strategic bombing and point defence fighters with nothing left over for maritime patrol, resulting in Coastal Command being equipped largely with hand-me-down obsolete bombers and biplane flying boats in very inadequate numbers. Had the Royal Navy been given control of maritime patrol aircraft in 1938, when it won back control of shipboard aviation, it might not have done much better because it needed every penny to re-equip with modern monoplane aircraft for its carriers. Where it would have gained would have been in command and control with a single tactical command of all convoy escort and supporting assets. The senior Coastal Command officers did not communicate effectively with the RN in the early stages of WWII and it cost many ships. The core RN problem was the 'Gap', a large area of the North Atlantic that had no air coverage, allowing the U-Boats to lurk there in relative safety, waiting to pick off the convoys. To make matters worse, the Luftwaffe had a very effective long range maritime bomber in the Fw 200 Kondor. This aircraft was not without its flaws, but it was a reasonable conversion of an airframe and engines designed originally as an advanced fast long range passenger and mail plane. The conversion did place extra stress on wing spars and a number of Kondors just collapsed on the runway with broken spars. However, it had speed and range, with a 20mm cannon armament and a useful bomb load. In the absence of fighter aircraft in the mid Atlantic, it could not only cruise around spotting convoys and radioing their position, speed and heading to the U-Boat command, but it could directly attack with bombs and cannon fire. It became a major problem for the RN convoy escorts. The only good news was that it was available in relatively small numbers. The RN quickly acquired a number of over-houred Hawker Hurricanes from the RAF and mounted them on catapults added to the bows of merchant ships. They were virtually a suicide mission for the pilots because the Hurricanes, once launched, could not reach land and the convoys could not stop to pick up the pilots if they ditched in the convoy. They were used infrequently with few 'kills' but they did deter the Kondors, keeping them further from the convoys and disrupting their missions. The next and better solution was to add flight decks to merchant bulk carriers with a small number of fighters and Swordfish bombers. At least the merchant ship could carry its normal cargo and the pilots stood some chance of finding the MAC ships to land on after sorties. The next stage was to prove a winner, kill off the threat of the Kondors and seriously reduce U-Boat effectiveness. This was the escort carrier which had a flight deck above enclosed hangers, capable of similar operation to a fleet carrier but with a smaller deck and far fewer planes. Ironically the first escort carrier was built on a German merchant ship hull seized by the British. It had a short life before being torpedoed, but it was immediately effective in fighting off the Kondors. From this concept, large numbers of escort carriers were built, mainly in US yards, and helped to tame the U-Boats and drive the Kondors from the Atlantic skies. The Kondor continued on past the introduction of carrier-escorted convoys, but largely on other duties closer to the coast of Europe. In addition to being used to attack shipping, it was also equipped with remote piloted bombs that proved effective against invasion fleets assaulting Sicily and Italy. Had the Germans produced large numbers of Kondors they might have continued to pose a very real threat to Allied shipping. What made life increasingly difficult and dangerous for the Kondor crews were the growing numbers of long range Allied fighters in the form of British Mosquito and Beaufighter machines that were fast, heavily armed and able to establish air superiority over maritime areas.