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Air War Over Kursk

Air War Over Kursk Book Review

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review August 2010 Title Air War Over Kursk
Author Dmitriy B. Khazanov Publisher SAM Publications
Published 2010 ISBN 978-1-906959-26-5
Format 144 pages, softbound MSRP (BP) £19.99 (Approx 31.30 USD)

Review

SAM Publications has launched a new series of monographs that focus on key air campaigns in the history of aerial warfare with its first installment covering the airborne portion of the Battle for Kursk. Authored by Russian historian Dmitriy Khananov, this title looks at the Kursk campaign from the Soviet Air Force (VVS) as well as the German Air Force (Luftwaffe) perspectives.

This title covers this period of history:

  • On the eve of the battle
  • 'Zitadelle': The battle begins
  • Breakthrough to Kursk
  • Operation 'Zitadelle': The downfall
  • Operation 'Kutuzov': The counter offensive
  • War in the night sky
  • The Red Army advances to Kharkov
  • Outcome of the Kursk battle

Each section looks at the battle from both perspectives with very nice period photography and color profiles of each of the aircraft variants involved with the air campaign. The side-by-side perpectives are also carried over in these period images such as the contrasting air ambulace shots of VVS personnel loading wounded soldiers into the dorsal bays of a Po-2 whilst Luftwaffe personnel are doing loading a Storch in the next image.

What is really refreshing is a more realistic look at the composition of the Soviet Air Armies that were deployed against the Luftwaffe. In the air war titles published in Russian before the fall of the Berlin Wall, you'd rarely see any reference to lend-lease aircraft in VVS combat operations. One title on the 16th Air Army had nothing but Soviet-made aircraft in their squadrons during the war. The author has lifted the propoganda vail to show where the lend-lease aircraft were woven into different squadrons to augment or replace combat losses and this title has some nice shots of B-25 Mitchells, P-39 Airacobras, and A-20/Bostons in VVS service. There are also some really nice shots of the Il-4, Pe-2 and Pe-8 bombers which you don't see very often. The Luftwaffe imagery is equally good and in fact, I don't recall seeing hardly any of these photos before!

This title will be a nice addition to the modeler and historian alike as this coverage provides a nice top-level overview of the subject.

Definitely recommended!

My sincere thanks to SAM Publications for this review sample!

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