2nd Tactical Air Force :Vol.1

by Christopher Shores & Chris Thomas

Published by Classic Publications

A book review by Steve Jantscher

This is an excellent history of the RAF Second Tactical Air Force. Equipped with the fighter/bombers (everything from B-25s to Mustangs, and Spitfires), the 2nd Tac' was very early tasked with bringing the war to northern Europe. Overshadowed in some histories by Bomber Command, and the daring raids deep into fortress Europe, the 2nd Tactical Air Force was going to shoulder the sweeps and strikes into France and the Low Countries, in preparation and eventual support for the invasion of Europe, and the down-fall of the Third Reich. The Second Tactical Air Force served much the same purpose as the U.S. Ninth Air Force.

This book is a massive updating and expansion of the long out of print single volume first edition of this title by Shores and Thomas. While I don't own, and can't comment on the differences between this volume and the first edition, I do know that this book has received the Classic Publications "touch". Everything from the excellent layout, to the fine photographs and fine full color aircraft profiles by Chris Thomas. I am also familiar with some of Christopher Shore's other Grub Street books (Bloody Shambles, Fledgling Eagles, Malta: the Hurricane and Spitfire Years etc.) and feel there are few better historians of RAF operations throughout the war.

For the most part, the book is in the format of a diary. Notable events are handled in a chronological order by dated entry. This unit "diary" is divided into three broad chapters, Formation, Expansion and Invasion, covering the dates June 1943 to June of '44. Each chapter has an ample multi-page introduction giving a context and overview to the events to follow. As is the Classic style, numerous subjects are covered in page (or multi-page) callouts to the diary approach. Such subjects in this first volume are, Exercise Spartan, James Edgar Johnson, Operation 'Starkey', The first Typhoon rocket attack- 25 October 1943, Erik Haabjörn, Paris Rodeo - 16 March 1943, 'Ranger' to Aalborg ­ 17 May 1944, The Story of the 'Ginger' Mitchell flight, Charles Llewellyn Green, A 'Dinner' Raid and Stanislaw Skalski. These "extra" pages really add to the day-to-day operations as reported in this chronicle. The copious photographs round out the text too, with especially informative captions. The model builder will find plenty to wet his appetite.

Once again Classic Publications produces an excellent book, with the consistent style to those other books in their inventory. This volume has 192 pages in the standard 12x9 inch Classic Publications hard cover format. I can't wait until the next two volumes are published. This will make an excellent addition to any WWII aviation history enthusiast's library. I plan on adding it to mine.

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