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African American Troops in World War II

3 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Unknown Binding
  • ISBN-10: 1780965435
  • ISBN-13: 978-1780965437
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

More About the Author

Alexander M. Bielakowski, Ph.D., is a former U.S. Army Reserve officer who has published on such diverse topics as the final years of the U.S. horse cavalry in the 1920s-30s, African Americans in World War II, and Dwight D. Eisenhower as the first commander of NATO. He has authored or co-authored three monographs as well as edited a two-volume reference work. Currently, he is the Editor-in-Chief of the journal U.S. Military History Review and an Associate Professor of Military History at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College.

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This book has surprisingly broad and deep coverage of the topic, given the constraints of Osprey's format. Thorough coverage is given to African Americans in all the services (Army, Navy, Army Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine), and the bibliography is particularly impressive bibliography. There is brief combat history of some units, but the strength of this book is its focus on select famous individuals, social issues, and racial tensions.

Though it's always unfair to criticize authors for not including more given the tight confines of Osprey's format, a little more coverage could have been included on the tank and tank destroyer units. The 761st Tank Bn and 827th TD Bn are given good coverage, but were they the only such units to see combat? A photo caption mentions the 784th Tank Bn, but that's all. Given that most African Americans in the Army served in support units, coverage of these units is adequate, and certainly more than in your typical Osprey book, focused on combat troops as they are.

I was slightly surprised not to more on the USAAF aircraft, but this is an Elite book after all, focusing on soldiers not gear, but Osprey's Aviation Elite book should give more than adequate coverage.

The only downside I found were the color plates, which were a bit unimpressive and lacking in detail, but those who are interested in the details of US uniforms should go to one of the other Ospreys that cover this in greater detail.
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Format: Paperback
According to the author Alexander Bielakowski, identified elsewhere on Amazon as a war college nstructor, ground anti-aircraft artillery was so obsolete by the time the US entered WWII that few were used to fight and destroy enemy airplanes in the ETO. Tell that to the 50,000+ U.S. Anti-Aircraft Artillery troops which were landed at Normandy within the first 21 days after D-Day. "AAA" was considered so vital to D-Day plans that were dropped as part of the first Airborn assault the night bfore D-Day.

Bielakowski argues that as the counterpart of field artillery, the Coastal artillery was not useful for modern warfare because they were 'planted' in one place and could not be moved. Yes, that was true -- until 1939, when an entirely new concept in anti-aircraft, mobile anti-aircraft battalions were developed. These units, could move in, set up, break down and be one their way in a day when the need increased elsewhere.

The typical AAA battalion was comprised of about 1000 men and an array of mobile units: Self-propelled units where an M16 halftrack was equipped for low altitude fire with a quad - 4 set-up. Four machine guns mounted in a square and capable of being fine tune so that all 4 barrels would strike an enemy craft at precisely the same spot, frequently causing the airplane to simply collapse and disintegrate in flight. The bofors short range cannon was used by both the Germans and the Allies (Switzerland, our "peaceful" country, supplied the weapon to both sides)

It is true that more German warplanes were destroyed by other airplanes, but not as Bielakowski would have the reader think.
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