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The Mighty Eighth

...Masters of the Air Over Europe 1942-45, from Osprey Books

Title: The Mighty Eighth
Author: Donald Nijboer
Publisher: Osprey Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-4728-5421-6

'Masters of the Air Over Europe 1942-45', a new 320-page book from Osprey. Filled with informative text, archive images all combined with more of the great artwork that we expect from Osprey publications.
It starts with the formation of the 8th Air Force in Georgia in 1942 and the rest of the book is split across 7 main chapters, each one then sub-divided into multiple sub-sections. From the arrival of the first units, their aircraft, and adapting to the culture of coming to live in Britain. Then a helpful summary of the Light of Day, the record of the 8th over each of the different years, 1942 to 1945. In chapter 3 we get detail of not just the flying units, but the supporting ground personnel who enabled the airmen t carry out their missions, and an Order of Battle as of January 1945. Chapter 4 looks at the variety of aircraft types they were equipped with, including bombers, fighters and reconnaissance aircraft. Tools of Battle take up chapter 6, with detail on training, the bomber formations and the technology they employed, along with their armament and fighter tactics. In chapter 6 it explores the Experience of Battle, facing the extensive defensive flak and the different Luftwaffe fighters, including their tactics as well. What happened when a crew was forced to bale out and the developments that allowed fighters to accompany the bomber formations deeper into Europe. There were many casualties, the arrangements for air-sea rescue and damaged aircraft that did manage to get home. Some of the statistics, such as the number of bombers employed along with the numbers lost or damaged beyond repair make for some eye watering statistics. This section also features more detail on a few specific units and their records. The final chapter gives individual attention on leaders such as 'Hap' Arnold, Carl Spatz, James Doolittle and Ira Eaker, as well as airmen such as 'Hub' Zemke and others.
As well as all the detail given within the text there are lots of archive images throughout the book, as well as some of the great artwork which Osprey is so well known for. These include individual aircraft profiles, maps, formation diagrams, instrument panels and aircraft cutaways and more. An assortment of data tables all add to the detailed examination of the 8th Air Force in Europe during WW2. While there have been other books on the subject over the years, I think this is one of the best I have read in many years. I won't hesitate to recommend this one.
Thanks to Osprey for the review copy.


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