The illustrated exploits of the Fifteenth Air Force
By Kevin A Mahoney
Published by Zenith Press. Distributed by Allen & Unwin
RRP $45.00 in hardcover
Beautifully illustrated with over 200 compelling photos, this book is a follow-up to Mahoney’s previous work, ‘Fifteenth Air Force against the Axis’.
The US Fifteenth, based in Southern Italy, began operations on 1 November 1943 and comprised 210 B-17 Flying Fortress and 90 B-24 Liberator bombers escorted by P-38 Lightning, P-47 Thunderbolt and P-51 Mustangs.
The Fifteenth was tasked with covering the areas that Allied bombers based in England could not easily reach and during their time, attacked strategic targets over a wide geographical area from France to Bulgaria. Mahoney follows the trials and tribulations of the bomber groups where death and injury were an ever-present passenger.
The B-24 Liberator bombers were particularly susceptible to catching fire when hit by flak and with the Germans employing a concentration of three flak batteries with four guns in each battery, the Fifteenth lost more than 2,000 aircraft during its one and a half years in combat.
Despite these losses, the Fifteenth never wavered from flying the next mission. Their campaign took them over the nations of southern, central and eastern Europe and Mahoney’s book is a fitting tribute to the many young Americans who never made it home.
One reviewer has described this as a ‘wonderful photographic essay’ which I think sums it up nicely.
This is definitely a book for those aviation tragics whose first love is WWII military aircraft and their operations. The pictures are stunning.