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Book Review
Schweinfurt–Regensburg 1943
Schweinfurt–Regensburg 1943 Eighth Air Force’s costly early daylight battles
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Originally published on:

Modelers of the Allied bomber offensive and the Nazi defenders have long been inspired by the notorious Schweinfurt–Regensburg raid in Autumn, 1943. Not only were colorful Luftwaffe fighters involved, they often carried fascinating enhanced offensive armament, including the notorious "stovepipe" underwing rocket launchers. This book examines both sides and the cut-and-thrust of tactics and equipment developments of the Eighth Air Force’s costly early daylight battles, before long-range escort fighters joined the Allied effort.

This book presents interesting photos and artwork that should be valuable to modelers and historians.

Schweinfurt–Regensburg 1943 Eighth Air Force’s costly early daylight battles from Osprey Publishing LTD, is the 14th title in their series Air Campaign. Authored by Vietnam combat veteran and F-15 pilot Marshall Michel III, and illustrated by Jim Laurier, the 96-page book is catalogued as ISBN 9781472838674 , and with the Osprey short code ACM 14. It is due to be released next week on 23 Jan 2020.

Osprey introduces the story:
    In 1943, the USAAF and RAF launched the Combined Bomber Offensive, designed to systematically destroy the industries that the German war machine relied on. At the top of the hit list were aircraft factories and plants making ball-bearings - a component thought to be a critical vulnerability. Schweinfurt in southern Germany was home to much of the ball-bearing industry and, together with the Messerschmitt factory in Regensburg, which built Bf 109 fighters, it was targeted in a huge and innovative strike.

    Precision required that the targets were hit in daylight, but the raid was beyond the range of any existing escort fighter, so the B-17s would go in unprotected. The solution was to hit the two targets in a coordinated 'double-strike', with the Regensburg strike hitting first, drawing off the defending Luftwaffe fighters, and leaving the way clear for the Schweinfurt bombers. The Regensburg force would carry on over the Alps to North Africa, the first example of US 'shuttle bombing'.

    Although the attack on Regensburg was successful, the damage to Schweinfurt only temporarily stalled production, and the Eighth Air Force had suffered heavy losses. It would take a sustained campaign, not just a single raid, to cripple the Schweinfurt works. However, when a follow-up raid was finally launched two months later, the losses sustained were even greater. This title explains how the USAAF launched its daylight bombing campaign in 1943, the technology and tactics available for the Schweinfurt-Regensburg missions, and how these costly failures forced a change of tack.

This deeply researched book both presents new information and concepts to me, and aha moments for facts previously learned.

Schweinfurt–Regensburg 1943 is presented through nine chapters and sections in 96 pages:
    Attacker's Capabilities
    Defender's Capabilities
    Campaign Objectives
    The Campaign
    Analysis and Conclusion
Those chapters are not exactly what Osprey shows on their website but that is irrelevant to the book.

Colonel Michel writes with a style that presents the complexity of the campaign with clarity. Introduction and Chronology preflight this book by explaining the Combined Bombing Offensive (CBO) and the USAAF (United States Army Air Force) role and intent in it. The chronology offers some revelations. Next, 14 pages of Attacker's Capabilities describe
    USAAF leadership
    USAAF B-17 and B-24 bombers (with a short section comparing them to their RAF counterparts)
    Bomber formations
    Weather and radar
    USAAF fighters
      Drop tanks
    YB-40 escort gunship
The role of the P-38 in 1943 is particularly interesting, as well as USAAF commander "Hap" Arnold's view of the P-47. Also intriguing is story of drop tanks to extend the range of the escort fighters.

Fifteen pages examine Defender's Capabilities:
    German fighters, both single- and twin-engine
    Tactics, initial and evolution
    Order of battle
    Command and control
    Captured US aircraft
    Air-to-air combat
Most interesting is the emphasis upon the Werfer-Granate 21 (Wfr.Gr.21) rocket system; I have understood that they were not very effective but this book presents them as a significant weapon for the RLV (Reichs-Luftverteidigung, Defense of the Reich).

Campaign Objectives is a simple one-page overview while The Campaign is the 50-page heart of the subject. VIII Bomber Command's war, from mid-1942 up through the Schweinfurt–Regensburg mission is recounted in concise detailed, including number of bombers and fighters, defenders, losses, bombing results, and developments. One of those developments was political; despite severe USAAF losses, the attacks continued and Luftwaffe leader Hermann Göring fell from favor due to the continuing raids, prompting him to attack his fighter pilots. German civilians were vexed by the continuing and growing strength of Allied raids.

Analysis and Conclusion is only two pages but succinctly sums up the 1943 bomber campaign.

While the anchor of this book is the infamous Schweinfurt–Regensburg raid, the CBO before D-Day is concisely recounted along with its influence of the 1944 campaign. The book also presents insights to both coordination and conflicts between German and Allied leadership.

Photographs, Artwork and Graphics
Osprey supports the text with a strong gallery of imagery. I have been reading about the WWII air war for 50 years and some of these photos are new to me. Photos include a B-17 severely damaged by a Wfr.Gr.21; Wfr.Gr.21 detonations among bombers, contrails of a dogfight, and several photos capturing Luftwaffe fighters and their bomber target.

Modelers will benefit from images yielding great detail of aircraft, source material for weathering and markings, and inspirational scenes for dioramas.

Artist Jim Laurier contributes original illustrations to enhance the subject matter.
1. P-47 External Tanks
    a. 200-gallon ferry tank
    b. 75-gal. metal tank
    c. 108-gal. RAF paper tank
2. Luftwaffe Fighter Armamanet: 18 frontal aspects of fighters keyed to many gun and rocket weapons, including Rüstsätzen
    a. Me 410
    b. Bf 110
    c. Bf 109
    d. Fw 190
3. B-17 Formations 1943: four diagrams of the combat box; above; profile; head-on; three squadrons combined.
4. Fighter Massed Attack: overhead diagram of single-engine head-on attack formation; twin-engine rocket attack formation.
5. Centerfold battlescene Outbound to Schweinfurt, August 19, 1943: checkernose Fw 190 attacks 91st Bomb Group B-17s head-on while rocket firing Bf 110s break off from behind.
6. Centerfold battlescene Thunderbolt Interception, August 19, 1943: 56th FG P-47 nailing a Bf 110.
7. Centerfold battlescene Airborne Rocket Attack, October 14, 1943: Bf 110s salvoing Wfr.Gr.21 rockets into a B-17 formation.

All of the photos and illustrations feature informative captions.

1. English USAAF Bases in the Schweinfurt–Regensburg Raids: keyed to 35 units and bases.
2. German Fighter Defenses 1943: keyed to multiple fighter and air defense HQs; showing range of escort fighters.
3. Bird's-eye view Regensburg, August 17, 1943, keyed with flight paths of B-17, B-24, P-47 and Luftwaffe forces, and nine (9) events.
4. 3. Bird's-eye view Schweinfurt, August 17, 1943, keyed with flight paths of B-17, B-24, P-47, Luftwaffe (inbound and outbound) forces, and eight (8) events.

Those maps are interesting and informative, allowing the reader to visualize the raids.

Schweinfurt–Regensburg 1943 is another valuable book from Ospreyfor modelers and historians of the early USAAF bombing campaign against Nazi Germany. This history features detailed analysis written and presented by a veteran American combat veteran fighter pilot. That text is supported by a fascinating gallery of photographs and artwork.

If there is a low point, it is that such a massive complex history is constrained by the 96-page format. Within this limitation is an excellent primer of the bombing campaign before long-range escort fighters were available.

If you have an interest in the early USAAF bombing campaign against Nazi Germany, the Schweinfurt–Regensburg raids, Eighth Air Force, Luftwaffe Defense of the Reich, and the aircraft mentioned above, this book should be pleasing to you. Recommended.
Highs: Detailed and insightful text. A fascinating gallery of photographs and artwork.
Lows: De minimis.
Verdict: An excellent primer of the bombing campaign before long-range escort fighters were available. Modelers and historians of the early USAAF bombing campaign against Nazi Germany should be very pleased with this book.
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: 9781472838674
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Jan 22, 2020
  NATIONALITY: United States

Our Thanks to Osprey Publishing!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright ©2021 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of ModelGeek. All rights reserved.


Fred, Good to see this review back on line— I’ll look forward to reading this book on this important period in aviation history. Thanks for the great review! VR, Russ
JAN 21, 2020 - 05:34 PM
Wow, I'm literally reading about this (the second raid) on the ball bearing factory in Brian D. O'Neill's book "Half a Wing, Three Engines and a Prayer". This is a must have now being that I'm helping with the build of B-17 Luscious Lady and will be building Vicious Virgin. Thank you Fred!
JAN 22, 2020 - 12:55 AM

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