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Allied Fighters 1939-45

Allied Fighters 1939-45 Book Review

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review May 2008 Title Allied Fighters 1939-45
Author Chris Chant Publisher Zenith Press
Published 2008 ISBN 978-0-7603-3451-5
Format 192 pages, softbound MSRP (USD) $19.95


Here is an interesting new title from Zenith books covering Allied Fighters between 1939-1945 (World War II). This is part of a new series entitles "The Essential Aircraft Identification Guide", but it isn't about individual aircraft types like other titles have covered. The author takes a look at the bigger picture here.

Take a look at the table of contents:

  • Introduction
  • France
  • United Kingdom and Commonwealth
  • United States
  • Soviet Union
  • Other Allied Air Forces

The author looks at each of the allied airpowers from the standpoint of organization and mission (order of battle). France is up first, but it is a very short chapter since the French Air Force was knocked out of the war early-on. Nevertheless, the author summarizes the French Air Force's organization and equipment with a brief operational summary and a color profile of one of the early-war fighters. This profile is augmented by Free-French profiles of aircraft that served alongside the other allied squadrons during the remainder of the war.

Coverage of the UK and US looks at each of the major commands, the underlying air wings, the groups assigned to those wings, the squadrons assigned to each group, the aircraft assigned to those squadrons, and their roles and missions. Each of these decompositions comes with lots of color profiles of the aircraft assigned to many of the units being covered.

Discussion of the Soviet Air Force is quite limited given the wealth of information that has been published from the east over the last 10-20 years. I really wish the author had given the Soviet Air Force a closer look with the different air armies and their orders of battle. This would have been the perfect format to see where the Soviet-made and lend-lease fighters interleaved as the war progressed.

In the final chapter, there are very brief summaries of the other allied air forces and their sometimes brief histories such as the Polish Air Force (September 1939), Dutch and Belgian Air Forces (May 1940), Norway and Denmark (Apr-May 1940), Yugoslavia and Greece (April 1941), and Co-Belligerent Italy and Brazil (1943-45).

It is obvious that this is a condensed look at a allied airpower and even the longer discussions of UK and US can't be very comprehensive in a limited page count. The title is well-illustrated with color profiles of representative aircraft in the colors and markings of the units under discussion. Period photos also help to put the history into visible context. This title will provide the reader with a cross-section of the allied fighter forces during World War II to set the stage for more detailed looks into more specific unit or aircraft histories.

My sincere thanks to Motorbooks International for this review sample!