Review: The Osprey Air Campaign Series

Osprey Air Campaign Rolling Thunder

There are two things in life I am seriously addicted.  One of those is collecting vinyl LP’s.  I have lots and love listening to a wide variety of them.

My other addiction is painting tiny little airplanes. I don’t know that I paint them that well, but I paint them in gobs.  I don’t do WWI, but WWII and the post-war era all the way through the Falklands pretty much has my attention. Airplanes are pretty cool, If every single one of my way too many projects were completed, I would still be painting tiny little planes.

But I don’t like to aimlessly paint planes to dogfight each other.  I like games in which there is a specific goal-a bombing mission or something like that in which there are attackers and defenders, and yes, let’s change up those objectives from time to time.  I’ve bombed missile sites in Cuba, attacked the Tirpitz and Illustrious, raided San Carlos Bay, and shot at jets over the Taiwan Strait. All involved dozens of planes, which is just the way I like it.

Osprey Air Campaign Rabaul

I’m always looking for a new airplane project or trying to learn more about old projects, and now Osprey Publishing has become my dealer of choice for new information about potential projects.

Last year they began publishing a new series called Air Campaigns.  At the present time there are seven books in print with two more titles to follow after the first of the year.  I don’t have all seven, don’t need ’em all.  There’s little point to buying a Men at Arms book on Woodland Indians if you’re really just painting French Napoleonics, right?

Osprey Air Campaign Malta

The topic of each book is a prolonged air campaign.  If you are interested in the Battle of Midway or the air attack on Taranto Harbor, you’ve come to the wrong place.  The air campaign over Malta lasted for two and half years.  Operation Rolling Thunder persisted from 1965-68.  These are just two examples, but all the remaining topics lasted weeks if not months or years.

Osprey Air Campaign Tirpitz

Each book lays out the objectives of the campaign, the forces facing each other (in case you need your ration of airplane nerdism.) They have great maps that break down bombing raids, because there are lots of those in a campaign.  Yes it includes a few of the color plates we’ve come to expect from Osprey, but not as many you might have come to expect.  But the real value of the book comes in telling the story of the campaign and the brief analysis that follows.  Lots of period photos with solid captions.  Each book is 96 pages including references and index.

It’s a big picture look at a campaign.  They resist the temptation to focus too closely on one pilot’s anecdotal exploits, or on one air mission.  The story doesn’t bog down. New factors are introduced as part of the timeline as are the failures, successes, new players and changes in approach to the problem that must be solved.

The books sell for $24 a pop, though I usually snag mine on Amazon for $14 or so. I have each of the books pictured, and plan to pick up the book on Operation Linebacker when it is released in January.  Not coincidentally, I’ve been writing about my Malta project, it will be succeeded by a Vietnam Downtown project, with Rabaul to follow.  Dave and I have done the Tungsten attacks on the Tirpitz, and we’ll revisit them again in May at Enfilade.

If find these to be useful sources without the requirement of a huge investment in either money or time.