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Bombing Europe: the Illustrated Exploits of the Fifteenth Air Force

29 October 2015

Bombing Europe: the Illustrated Exploits of the Fifteenth Air Force, Kevin A. Mahoney, 2015, ISBN 97807603348154, 240 pp., 200 b/w photos

blog Book Bombing Europe

The U.S. Fifteenth Air Force was tasked to destroy or incapacitate the Axis forces in Central and Southern Europe from 1943 through 1945. It did not enjoy the glamour of bases in Great Britain but flew logistically tough missions such as the shuttle missions which landed in Russia, rearmed and sortied back to southern bases. The low level Ploesti raids also belonged to the Fifteenth so hardly more need be said for their combat challenges.

Mahoney is more than familiar with the history of the Fifteenth and is accomplished as an author so Bombing Europe is no archetypal history book. Instead, it is a concise history laden with trials and tribulations of the aircrews and generously stocked with images. The text relates the thinking and the context of the events while the photos bring these events jumping off the book’s pages.

The images are many, often dramatic and too often tragic. Death and injury in the cold skies high over Europe are recounted in one event after another with no two being the same. The photographs are large—a welcome characteristic of Mahoney’s fine book along with his engaging but never wasteful writing.

Bombing Europe is a small size coffee table book well at home in a library or on a side table. It tells as well as shows the trajectory of the battle with chapters dedicated to all aspects of the struggle—from the flak to reconnaissance; from the Lone Wolf missions to rescues in Slovakia; and from combat with the Axis forces to War Crimes plus so much more.

The photographs show so many happy and good looking combatants as well as fatally hit aircraft and everything in between. This book is gritty, accurate and complete—no Hollywood scripting or imagery here, but what happened and the way it happened.

Bombing Europe is long overdue since the Fifteenth was responsible for more of Europe than other Allied forces but sees little of what it deserves. We have Kevin Mahoney to thank for his work and the Fifteenth Air Force for its more than significant contribution in winning World War II for the Allies. This book tells their story and what a story it is.


As is the publishing custom, Zenith Press provided a copy of Bombing Europe: the Illustrated Exploits of the Fifteenth Air Force for an objective review.


2 Comments leave one →
  1. theflyingyorkshireman permalink
    29 October 2015 03:50

    Excellent review, Joe!

  2. 29 October 2015 12:44

    It is little known that many sorties by the 15th’s heavy bomber featured two transits of the very dangerous Alpine regions in Italy, Austria or Germany. Either that or long over-water transits across the Adriatic Sea to attack targets in the Balkans. Geography was as much of an ‘enemy’ as accurate German ‘flak’. I have a great deal of admiration for the 15th!

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