The first look at all of the innovations in AAA makes a great read. The use of AAA goes back to 1870 with the first purpose designed cannon but the revolution came in the Cold War years. – Very Highly Recommended
NAME: Anti-Aircraft Artillery In Combat, 1950-1972, Air Defence In The Jet Age FILE: R3245 AUTHOR: Colonel Mandeep Singh PUBLISHER: Air World, Pen & Sword BINDING: soft back PRICE: £16.99 GENRE: Non Fiction SUBJECT: Cold War, Middle East Wars, 6 Day War, Vietnam War, Korean War, South Asia Wars, Soviets, United States ISBN: 1-52676-208-0 PAGES: 218 IMAGE: B3245.jpg BUYNOW: tinyurl.com/y3ma6j66 LINKS: DESCRIPTION: The first look at all of the innovations in AAA makes a great read. The use of AAA goes back to 1870 with the first purpose designed cannon but the revolution came in the Cold War years. – Very Highly Recommended
The author has provided a comprehensive review of the major changes in AAA provision and deployment for the period 1950 to 1972 with the introduction of fast jets. This is the first publication to make a review of this period.
The siege of Paris saw the Prussians making determined attempts to bring down the balloons in which French politicians were escaping to leave Parisians to their fate. This effort involved using anything that fired, even where the balloons were beyond effective range and where field artillery was mounted on carriages that were not capable of the elevation required. To improve success, the Prussians introduced a 1-pounder gun that could be mounted on its own carriage, or on a wagon, with sufficient elevation to effectively fire on balloons. It became the first true anti-aircraft gun.
The Franco-Prussian War was not the first combat where a land force attempted to shoot down balloons. During the American Civil War, regular use was made, notably by the Union Army, of hydrogen balloons that were moved from site to site deflated and inflated in the field for use as captive balloons with observers who could report on enemy movements and the fall of shot on enemy positions. Attempts were made ineffectually to fire on these balloons, using muskets and small field cannon.
WWI saw the first widespread use of AAA. The machine gun was used extensively in the trenches and mounts were fabricated in the field to enable the guns to be aimed in high elevation. The Red Baron was the first famous pilot to be claimed by infantry using a machine gun, although it is disputed and the German pilot had been engaged in combat with Allied aircraft at the time he was shot down.
WWII saw AAA come into its own. The huge growth of air forces and the significant use of aircraft in ground attack as flying artillery meant plenty of targets. Heavy guns could reach the high flying bombers of the Allied offensive against Germany but, in numbers, smaller AAA with automatic fire was the major advance. Many of these guns were fitted in multiple gun mounts on armoured vehicles, making them very mobile and providing an effective counter to the increasing numbers of flying tank-killers. German Ace of Aces, Hans-Ulrich Ruddell destroyed hundreds of Soviet tanks but was shot down on a number of occasions behind enemy lines and, on one occasion, was captured, only to escape and make it back to his own lines. He suffered some wounds and lost a leg, although returning to flying with a prosthetic limb fabricated by his ground crew. On the Western front, the advanced swung back to the fighters as RAF Typhoons ranged across the battlefields, using unguided rockets to kill tanks very effectively and to disable Field Marshal Rommel when an RAF Typhoon shot up his staff car.
After WWII AAA lost favour primarily because, in a time of military cost cutting, it was considered unsuitable for taking on the new jet combat aircraft. This was surprising in as much as several nations were building their first radar controlled AAA and the British had trialled successfully an automatic 3.7in cannon fed by two rotary magazines and directed by radar.
AAA gun development has continued since then, but the major advance was the development of guided missiles that could be directed close to the target and then onto it by internal radar or infrared guidance systems. This meant that the new missiles could be constructed to hit fast low targets over the battlefield, using mobile platforms and armour, or be sited as point defence of high value targets with the ability to reach the altitudes that bombers were able to maintain. These missiles were faster than the targets they intended to destroy and the balance began to move heavily back to the AAA’s favour. The other major advance was shoulder fired missiles that could be carried by the infantry. Where electronic warfare gave jet aircraft the ability to detect heavier AAA missiles and radar systems, the new shoulder launched missiles were difficult to identify and were very small targets to counter.
Colonel Singh has made a good job of detailing the arms race for AAA. There is also a small photo-plate section in B&W to illustrate his account.