Born in the 1930s, the Soviet Air Force's long-range bomber arm (known initially as the ADD and later as the DA) proved itself during World War II and continued to develop in the immediate post-war years, when the former allies turned Cold War opponents. When the strategic bomber Tu-4 was found to be too 'short-legged' to deliver strikes against the main potential adversary – the USA, both Tupolev and Myasishchev OKBs began the task by creating turbine-engined strategic bombers. By the Khrushchev era in the mid/late 1950's the Soviet defense industry and aircraft design bureau set about adapting the bombers to take air-launched missiles for use against land and sea targets. In 1962 the DA fielded its first supersonic aircraft – the Tu-22 Blinder twinjet, which came in pure bomber and missile strike versions. The Brezhnev years saw a resurgence of strategic aviation with the Tu-22M Backfire 'swing-wing' supersonic medium bomber entering service in the mid-1970s followed in 1984 by the Tu-95MS Bear-H and Tu-160 Blackjack which were capable of carrying six and 12 air-launched cruise missiles respectively. Soviet Strategic Aviation in the Cold War shows how the DA's order of battle changed in the period from 1945 to 1991. Major operations including the air arm's involvement in the Afghan War, the Cold War exercises over international waters in the vicinity of the 'potential adversary', and the shadowing of NATO warships are covered together with details of Air Armies, bomber divisions and bomber regiments, including their aircraft on a type-by-type basis. More than 500 photos, most of which are previously unpublished in the West, are supplemented by 61 color profiles, color badges, and line drawings of the aircraft and their weapons, making this an essential reference source for the historian and modeler alike.
Carrier aircraft, since their beginning, have been a very special kind of machine and demand something equally special of the men who flew them. Landing on a pitching, bucking deck of a carrier, or catapulting over a plunging bow, shipboard aircraft and their pilots had to be exceptional.
Often, the real characteristics of these assorted aircraft lie forgotten in the annals of time but Eric 'Winkle' Brown, the first naval officer to head the elite Aerodynamics Flight at Farnborough, records his cockpit experiences testing British and American carrier aircraft.
Continue reading “Wings of the Navy (Carrier Testing American & British Aircraft)”
Early in the 20th century, shortly after military aviation came on the scene, Imperialist Russia started using aircraft to support the operations of the Russian Navy. Rapid development of naval aviation continued after the October Revolution of 1917 and Soviet naval airmen flying fighters and torpedo-bombers made a significant contribution to the defeat of Nazi Germany in the Great Patriotic War.
Yet the heyday of Soviet Naval Aviation (or AVMF) was in the post-war years. While in the late 1940s the AVMF relied largely on indigenous and American propeller-driven aircraft that had survived the fray, in the 1950s the naval airmen began mastering jets. The AVMF units started re-equipping with Il’yushin IL-28 Beagle twinjet bombers and were the sole operator of the Tupolev Tu-14 Bosun torpedo-bomber.
Continue reading “Soviet Naval Aviation 1946-1991”
Derided by Allied propaganda which made it out to be an air force equipped solely with elderly biplanes, ineffective in attack or always in retreat, the Regia Aeronautica was overshadowed by its more ruthless Axis partner, the Luftwaffe.
Using research from a mass of original documentation, including personal accounts and combat diaries, the author takes an objective view and shows that the men who flew the Macchis, Fiats, and Savoias were no less skilled or determined than their opponents.
Continue reading “Courage Alone: The Italian Airforce 1940-1943”
Luftwaffe pilot Walter Schuck flew the Me109 in the Arctic Sea fighter squadrons, becoming the Russian air force's feared enemy in the far north. Awarded the Knights Cross in April 1944, he claimed his 100th kill in June of that year, then barely 48 hours later shot down 12 aircraft in one day a record never achieved by any other Arctic Sea pilot.
His mastery continued when in March 1945 he joined Jagdgeschwader 7, newly equipped with Me 262 jet fighters and shot down two Allied fighters on his first operation. He took command of the third Staffel of JG 7, and his success in the aerial theatre was unsurpassed when he brought down four B-17 bombers while on a transit flight. Shortly afterwards, meeting one of the bombers' escort fighters in combat, his fuel system exploded and he had to bail out. Walter Schuck's war was over, after more than 500 front-line sorties and 206 confirmed kills.
Celebrated by his colleagues for his skill, courage, sheer guts, and chivalry, including his deep feelings for those he shot down, he earned the nickname "Adler der Tundra" or "Northern Knight".
In this autobiography, the author tells his story simply, conveying his impressions of life, the rationale of the Luftwaffe, and the everyday life of a military man in those times, including the difficulties and hardships of the war in the Arctic Seas. In a gripping narrative, the author helps us to understand why he and his colleagues were prepared to lay down their lives for their people and their country.
Rich in detail and facts, and supplemented by photographs from his personal collection and color aircraft profiles, Walter Schuck helps us to put the past into context, painting a unique picture of life in the Luftwaffe during the times of the Third Reich.