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Combat Biplanes of World War II (Paperback)

WWII Aviation Aviation in WWII

By Peter C Smith
Imprint: Pen & Sword Aviation
Pages: 336
Illustrations: 32
ISBN: 9781526766557
Published: 30th January 2020

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The era of the combat biplane is usually thought to have been between 1914 and 1938. By the outbreak of World War II, most of the advanced air forces of the world had moved on to monoplane aircraft for their front-line battle forces, both in bomber and fighter capacities. Yet despite this, many biplanes did still survive, both in front-line service and in numerous subsidiary roles, and not just as training machines but as fully operational warplanes. Thus in 1939 the majority of major European powers still retained some, albeit few, biplane aircraft. Sadly, and as an indictment of failed British Government defence policies, it was Great Britain who still had the bulk of such obsolescent combat aircraft, machines like the Gladiator, Swordfish, Walrus, Vildebeeste and Audax for example, while the inferior Albacore, meant to replace the Swordfish, was still yet to enter service!

Germany had relegated most of her biplane designs to secondary roles, but they still managed to conduct missions in which biplanes like the He.50, He.51 and Hs.120 excelled. Both France and Italy had biplanes in active service, Mussolinis Regia Aeronautica attaching great importance to the type as a fighter aircraft as late as 1941, while the Soviet Union also retained some machines like the Po-2 in front-line service right through the war and beyond. In addition, a whole range of smaller nations utilised biplanes built for larger combatants in their own air forces. By the time Japan and the United States entered the war two years later, they had mainly rid themselves of biplanes but, even here, a few specialised types lingered on. This book describes a selection of these gallant old warriors of all nations. They represent the author's own personal selection from a surprisingly large range of aircraft that, despite all predictions, fought hard and well in World War II.

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 Peter C Smith

About Peter C Smith

PETER CHARLES HORSTEAD SMITH was born in Norfolk in 1940. After living in London, Kent and Cambridge he and his wife Pat settled in the small Bedfordshire village of Riseley in 1982 where they currently still reside. Peter is a Member of The Society of Authors, London, and has worked as both a book and a magazine editor but has been a full-time historian and author since 1968. Peter is best known for his eighty-six meticulously researched factual history books on aviation, military and naval topics.

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