I’ve been playing a few games of the old (1980) Strategy and Tactics magazine game ‘Tito’ so when I saw a copy of this book for a decent price I jumped on it.
Basically it is an operation history of the Stuka units and their time in Yugoslavia. Whilst the Stuka dive bomber is synonymous with the German’s Blitzkrieg* by 1940 and the Battle of Britain it was found to be rather vulnerable it contested air space. Whilst it did serve on the Eastern Front for many years, including as a dedicated tank hunter, it had reached its high water mark in the German opening attacks of the war.
One of these attacks was the 2 week invasion of Yugoslavia in 1941; details of which open the book’s narrative. Once the Partisan movement in Yugoslavia started to actively resist the Nazi occupiers the Stukas were deployed there to offer air support to the Germans fighting on the ground. Given the paucity of the Partisan anti- aircraft capabilities it was the ideal enviroment for the Stuka.
The books draws heavily on squadron recoreds and log books whilst it charts the deployments and notable missions of the different Stuka squadrons. A couple of chapters stoodf out: that which covered the German’s attepmts to disarm and demobilise the Italians after their 1943 capitulation and the Stuka’s role in Operation Rösselsprung, the attempt to kill Tito in 1944.
Until the end of the war the Stukas could fly with relative impunity, losses to ground fire were rare and there were also chances to continue terror bombing of civilian targets. However, as the Western Allies advanced up the Italian mainland the time came when Stukas were being engaged and shot down by the RAF, Spitfire Vcs on one occasion. Additionally the Stuka airfields were bombed as part of distractionm efforts when Italian based bomber units went north to bomb parts of Austria.
The book is rounded off with a nice selection of colour plates showing profiles for German as well as allied Axis operated aircraft. Their is also a single example in Partisan colours which would make for an interesting model (One of my 1/300 collection will end up like that probably).
Overall, this one gets my recommendation if you want to dig a bit deeper into the Yugoslavian campaign in WW2.
*A problematic term given recent scholarship, it could quite easily be a blog post in itself….