...The Great Raid on Hitler's Romanian Oil Refineries, from Osprey Publishing
Title: Ploesti 1943
Author: Steven J. Zaloga
I am sure I am not the only one familiar with Steve Zaloga's books on AFV topics but this time he has turned his hand to the large USAF raid on the Romanian oil fields at Ploesti, which they carried out in August 1943. This is number 12 in Osprey's Air Campaigns series. In WW2 the supply of oil/petroleum for the large mechanised forces employed by all sides, that the Romanian oil fields were an important resource tot he German war machine.
As is explained in the Introduction, there had been earlier attacks on the oil fields, some simply sabotage and others air attacks by Russian and US aircraft. These had all been largely ineffective and supplies were still produced and available to the German military. So, the US planned for a much larger raid, involving 3 Groups of US B-24 Liberators. Because of the range, they flew from bases in Libya. The book examines the Attacker's Capabilities, the aircraft involved as well as the Defender's Capabilities. These were multiple Flak weapons, local fighter defences and built-in capability to launch Smoke Screens as well.
It explains the story of the planning and organisation for getting the B-24 formations through to their targets. These were the 5 large refineries which surrounded the city of Ploesti. Taking off from Libya, the flight plans are explained, along with the aid of some helpful 3D graphics which show the routes of the bombers over Ploesti. The raid had some limited success, but at a heavy cost as around one third of the attacker were lost, around 500 aircraft crew members killed or captured. Even those aircraft which got through and returned to base, most had battle damage. Initial reports suggested heavy damage to the facilities but they were later proved to be somewhat exaggerated. The course of the raid is detailed, along with the successes of the German air and ground defences. Operation 'Tidal Wave' was very costly to the bomber force and the raid was not repeated in the same way, though further attacks were carried out in 1944. The story is rounded off with an Analysis which gives a good reflection on this particular long distance raid against what was a strategic target. A very interesting read.
Thanks to Osprey Publishing for this review copy.