6th August 2018: RAF Bomber Command was formed in 1936 but it was during the Second World War that it forged a reputation as a powerful striking force, capable of unleashing destruction on a previously unimaginable scale during bombing raids across Europe.
The Command was also at the forefront of the new era of electronic warfare. Coinciding with the RAF’s centenary year, Haynes has produced a new manual that includes details of some of these technological and strategic leaps forward.
The RAF Bomber Command Operations Manual covers all aspects of the mighty organisation that bombed Germany around the clock in its sustained offensive to break the will of the German people.
From the unimaginable losses of the daylight raids in 1939 and 1940, through to the controversial night-time area bombing campaign that followed, the manual chronicles the evolution of Bomber Command through the Second World War. It covers the organisation, equipment, men, machines, technology and tactics of the RAF’s bomber offensive.
The manual also highlights the personal sacrifice and challenges faced by the crews of Bomber Command. Containing a number of unique insights and personal stories, it also includes details of the controversial Lacking Moral Fibre policy and the high attrition rates suffered by the young airmen of the Command.
Author Jonathan Falconer commented: “It was only in 2012 that Bomber Command’s wartime sacrifices were truly recognised when a national memorial was unveiled in London. The statistics surrounding RAF Bomber Command are startling. In 1942, less than half of all heavy bomber crews would get through their first 30-operation tour; and just one in five would live to fly a second.
“These men inhabited an unreal world where one minute they might be sitting in an armchair beside a fire in the officers’ mess; several hours later they were flying in a bomber aircraft in darkness above a floor of cloud, in the most deadly of environments. It is all but unimaginable to our 21st-century lives.
“My book has its roots in a title that I wrote over twenty years ago. Since then a wealth of new information and imagery has come to light, which has allowed me to include five new chapters covering airfield building, psychological stress, the German defences, building new aircraft versus repairing damaged ones, and the backroom data analysts.”
The RAF Bomber Command Operations Manual makes an ideal companion for readers who have enjoyed Haynes’s titles focusing on the aircraft operated by the wartime Command: the Avro Lancaster Manual, Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress Manual, Bristol Blenheim Manual, Consolidated B-24 Liberator Manual, de Havilland Mosquito Manual, Handley Page Halifax Manual, Short Stirling Manual and Vickers Wellington Manual.
Jonathan Falconer’s top five facts on RAF Bomber Command:
- RAF Bomber Command – formed in 1936, merged in 1968 (the RAF’s 50th anniversary year) with Fighter and Coastal Commands to form Strike Command.
- It took 67 years for the sacrifice of Bomber Command’s crews to be recognised by a national memorial in London’s Green Park.
- More RAF bomber crewmen were killed on operations between 1939 and 1945 (47,000) than British Army officers who died in the trenches in the First World War (over 41,000).
- Aircrew in Bomber Command’s No 7 Squadron received more gallantry awards than any other squadron in the rest RAF in the Second World War.
- NCOs made up more than 70% of RAF bomber crews, yet awards for gallantry to these airmen accounted for less than a quarter of the combined total to officers and NCOs.
RAF Bomber Command Operations Manual is priced at £25.00 and available from www.haynes.com. The book number is H6192. The ISBN is 9781785211928. It is published in August 2018.
About the authour
Jonathan Falconer is the author of more than 35 books and has published widely on the history of the RAF and Bomber Command including the Haynes de Havilland Mosquito Manual (with Brian Rivas), Short Stirling Manual, Handley Page Halifax Manual and RAF 100: The Royal Air Force in 100 Technical Innovations. He lives in Wiltshire.
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