Airman of Arnhem

From a leading aviation historian with a solid track record for well-researched and illustrated studies of aviation history. The typical approach by historians is to argue that Arnhem was a gigantic failure, or to argue its merits, few of them spending much time looking at the part aviators played in the battle. – Very Highly Recommended.

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NAME: Airman of Arnhem
FILE: R3093
AUTHOR: Martin W Bowman
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: hard back
PRICE: £25.00                                                               
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: World War II, WWII, World War Two, World War 2, Second World War, 
Operation Market Garden, Arnhem, airborne forces, air assault, paratroopers, glider 
troops, glider pilots, transport aircraft, bombers, photo reconnaissance, fighters, 
anti aircraft artillery, air drops

ISBN: 1-52674-611-5

PAGES: 330
IMAGE: B3093.jpg
BUYNOW: tinyurl.com/rg3c479

DESCRIPTION: From a leading aviation historian with a solid track record for 
well-researched and illustrated studies of aviation history. The typical approach by 
historians is to argue that Arnhem was a gigantic failure, or to argue its merits, 
few of them spending much time looking at the part aviators played in the 
battle. – Very Highly Recommended.

The Allies had beaten the German Army into headlong retreat. Shortly before the 
airborne troops battle of the bridges, little was required to roll up the fleeing German 
soldiers. Inevitably, Allied supply lines became stretched and German officers started 
to force some order into their retreating troops. Whatever the weaknesses of the plan, 
Montgomery's plan for Market Garden was a bold stroke, with known high risks, but 
a gamble well worth taking. Historians have raked through the fight on the ground for 
each of the bridges and with relish the story of the Battle of Arnhem. 

The two inherent weaknesses of the Market Garden plan were the narrow single road 
the ground forces would have to advance along to re-leave each of the bridges, and 
loss of surprise after the first bridge assault. By the time troops landed at Arnhem the 
Germans were able to see the outline of the operational plan. There were the 
inevitable surprise factors. Landing onto a crack German Panzer group was a major 
problem because the paratroopers and glider troops were light infantry with little 
anti-armour capability, now expected to fight seasoned armoured units. Then there 
was the weather, which delayed waves of new troops and made photo reconnaissance 
and anti-armour ground attack difficult to impossible. However, the major weakness 
was that this was a very large scale airborne landing on a deep front and there were 
just insufficient numbers of aircraft and gliders. Had there been the numbers to fly all 
of the initial troops to their target bridges at the same time and then follow 
immediately with the reinforcing wave, even Arnhem could have been supplied 
efficiently and the prospects for holding until relieved greatly increased. In the event 
there were not enough aircraft or gliders.

The author has looked at all of the aspects of the aviators and their aircraft. The 
workhorse was the DC3/C-47 transport that could carry paratroops and tow gliders. 
To tow the larger gliders and fill the shortages in DC-3s, a collection of bombers had 
to be employed as tugs. Bombers also had to be employed for resupply drops, 
including USAAF and RAF heavy bombers. The glider contingent was critical to the 
plan, not least because they could carry jeeps and anti-gun guns. In the event, a 
collection of all available gliders, including US Waco CG-4As, were pressed into 
service. As with the powered aircraft, there were not enough machines to carry out 
the operation with best prospect for success. This meant that what ideally should have 
been landed in the first wave had to come in subsequent waves and the troops on the 
ground faced major challenges in holding the agreed drop zones.

The courage of the aviators was exemplary. Heavy bombers flew low level into 
serious ground fire to drop supplies, often with those supplies falling straight into 
enemy hands. Losses were heavy because the crews were determined to reach their 
targets. Many of them were also on the ground with the combat troops, having landed 
their gliders and continued on as infantry. It is a stirring story, told well.