An engaging review of the RAF war experience from the views of those who served, from an author with a particular interest in training and combat. The scale and variety of experiences for air and ground crew during WWII is hard to fully appreciate today – Very Highly Recommended
NAME: Eyewitness RAF, The Experience of War 1939-1945 FILE: R3378 AUTHOR: James Goulty PUBLISHER: Pen and Sword BINDING: hard back PRICE: £25.00 GENRE: Non Fiction SUBJECT: Second World War, WWII, World War II, World War 2, aircrew, ground crew, bombers, maritime patrol & attack, fighters, ground attack aircraft, Europe, Mediterranean, North Africa, Middle East, India, Burma, Malaya ISBN: 1-52675-237-9 PAGES: 250, 8 page photo-plate section with images in B&W IMAGE: B3378.jpg BUYNOW: tinyurl.com/c89n99f5 LINKS: DESCRIPTION: An engaging review of the RAF war experience from the views of those who served, from an author with a particular interest in training and combat. The scale and variety of experiences for air and ground crew during WWII is hard to fully appreciate today – Very Highly Recommended
The author has provided a remarkably complete review of his subject and it is enhanced by some interesting images.
The aeroplane was little more than three decades old, as a vehicle, at the start of WWII. It had advanced dramatically during WWI, but was still a relatively frail vehicle of limited range and operational altitude. During WWI, RNAS and RFC fighter pilots did reach 20,000 ft above the Western trenches. This was in an open cockpit, without oxygen, or parachute, at a ground speed rarely more than 90 mph. Combat was at very close range with little prospect of escape if the aircraft caught fire. Pilots at 20,000 ft had to dive on German aircraft below them and hope their guns had unfrozen by the time they were in range.
From that point, two decades later, aircraft could reach 30,000 ft or more, the crews were mostly in enclosed cockpits, equipped with parachutes and oxygen, having an armament of at least eight rifle calibre machine-guns, or a smaller number of canons and machine-guns, reflector gunsights, speeds above 320 mph and integrated ground control, based on radar. This was an enormous advance in technical capability, but by 1945 both Germany and Britain had jet aircraft in service, rockets, and bombers capable of heavy bomb loads, with the RAF Lancaster eventually carrying ten ton ‘earthquake’ bombs that could penetrate even heavily protected high value German targets protected by thick reinforced concrete and underground.
From the ground breaking radar-based British command and control system, radar was soon fitted to warships and aircraft and the Germans began building their own radar-based C&CS as Allied raids grew in intensity ahead of D-Day. The pace of development was incredible and the RAF had to provide increasing levels of training to ensure that the technology could be fully utilized.
The author has nicely captured this amazing rate of change and increase in lethality.