By Ian Gooderson




The full title of this book is "AIR POWER AT THE BATTLEFRONT - Allied Close Air Support in Europe, 1943-45". As the title suggests, the work is a study of close air support within the historical context of the Second World War, with the analysis focusing upon the use of tactical air power by both the British and American forces during the campaigns in Italy and Northwest Europe in the years 1943, 1944 and 1945.


Ian Gooderson addresses the fundamental questions of whether the employment of air resources in the close support role provided sufficient advantage at the battlefront to justify the expenditure of effort and the risk to aircraft and pilots, and whether air support proved to be of more value - and more cost effective - when directed upon interdiction targets behind the lines, such as German communications, transport and supplies.


The principal sources consulted were contemporary Army and Air Force formation and unit records and reports, and contemporary Allied Operational Research (OR) material.


The book examines the nature of Operational Research in the period, the joint Air Force / Army systems established by both the British and Americans for providing and controlling air support, the characteristics of fighterbomber aircraft and the organisation and tactics of fighter-bomber units. This precedes an analysis of close air support for mobile and airborne operations, the employment of fighter-bombers against German armoured forces, the use of heavy and medium bombers in the close support role, the comparative effectiveness of fighterbombers and ground artillery and the effectiveness of fighter-bombers in the interdiction role.


Ian Gooderson contends that close air support did undoubtedly provide certain important advantages. However these became apparent as a result of the Allies possessing sufficient aircraft and pilots. Had resources been fewer, the advantages provided by close air support would not have been in themselves sufficient justification for diminishing the tactical air offensive against interdiction targets, or the strategic air offensive against Germany.


Published by Frank Cass Publishers in 1998 as a 282-page 6 x 9 hardback with a dust jacket, the book is illustrated by black and white photographs and includes chats, diagrams, tables, notes, bibliographies and an index. The ISBN number is 0714646806.



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