Hayne’s RAF Bomber Command Operations Manual Book Review

This month’s book review looks at another of the excellent series of books from Haynes, this time the volume on Bomber Command. Bomber Command evolved into a highly efficient striking arm of the RAF, with regular missions to bomb both strategic and tactical targets across the continent. It’s aircrews were to suffer the highest casualties as a percentage of its numbers of any armed force in the war, bar U-Boat crews, and it was the only means the British had to strike back at Germany for many years in the middle of the war.

As one might expect, Bomber Command was a complicated organisation with a large support network behind the bombers and this book does an excellent job of covering the wider context of bombing missions. As well as the expected overview of the bombers themselves, there are chapters covering the different types of bombs used, the bombsites used to accurately drop those bombs and the gun turrets used to defend the bombers. Other, more unusual, topics covered include the salvage and repair of damaged bombers and the research and analysis done by boffins at the time as well as an overview of the German defences the bomber crews were faced with.

As with most Haynes books, this is a very readable book, well illustrated and with helpful diagrams. Readers should note that there are some period photographs of dead bomber crews that some might find a little shocking, however they do graphically display the cost to the aircrew involved on these raids. I find that with the Haynes books, often the best ones are the ones that break away from a very technical study of one vehicle or plane and instead look at wider operational matters and this is no exception. The book acts as an excellent overview, with the chapter describing a raid from planning through to execution and safe return particularly helpful, and it is an excellent volume to have on your shelf to accompany the biographies and squadron histories you may already have.

The book can be bought from Amazon here, however my copy came from the remainder bookshop ‘The Works’ for just £7 and your local branch may still have copies so it is worth checking them out as well.

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