Osprey's Clean Sweep


Thomas McKelvey Cleaver


Osprey Publishing


$32.00 MSRP


Scott Van Aken

Notes: 464 pages, hardbound
ISBN: 978-1-4726-5548-0

When Germany declared war on the US in late 1941, it was pretty much guaranteed that the US would be operating against them from basis in the UK. Initially air power was focused on the events in North Africa and the ensuing Operation Torch in late 1942. However, by then, the newly created 8th Air Force was already operating in a fairly small way against targets in western Europe. Initially it was up to the ex-Eagle Squadrons to provide limited fighter escort as far as their Spitfires could reach. Later this and other units would get the P-47 Thunderbolt, a fighter that was no match for the more agile FW-190. Even the P-38 Lightnings used by some other squadrons were unable to provide the escorts needed as they had a great deal of difficulty operating and high altitudes due to engine and turbocharger issues.

It was the fairly heavy losses of B-17s and B-24 when flying unescorted outside the range of current fighters that caused 8th Bomber Command to really think hard about how to use its assets. Fortunately, the Merlin powered P-51 was able to enter the fray and with its long range, able to escort the bomber force on the way into and out of the target area.

Throughout all this, there was the usual learning curve on how best to use forces and this resulted in somewhat frequent changes in the command structure at all levels. It was a fairly natural progression where more capable people were put into positions where they could best be used, while the less capable types were sent elsewhere. This is pretty standard stuff and happens during all conflicts.

In this book, the author has done a superlative job of weaving an interesting story with what is a very complex situation. All the major personalities on both the US and German side of things are covered. This not only means the brass, but also the pilots. There are tons of 'I was there' tales with names that most of us will readily recognized. Each person is provided a brief historical introduction before getting to their accomplisments/missions that are germane to the flow of the story.

In all, it makes for a superb book on what seems to be a daunting subject. I've read most of Tom Cleaver's books and can tell you that he is a first rate story teller. Never was I bored, even though this is a fairly long book. Always my interest was piqued as the tale unfolded. It is the mark of a good author that even knowing the outcome beforehand, one stays involved with the prose to see what comes next. In all, it is a great book and one which I give my highest recommendation.

Febriaru 2024

Review book courtesy Tom Cleaver and Osprey Publishing.

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