It was during World War II that the aircraft truly evolved into a state of the art military weapon, far out-shadowing its not inconsiderable achievements of the previous war. The citizens of every nation were already living in dread of the bomber, and its promise to rain death down upon the cities in which they lived with impunity – that nightmare was now a reality.
From the outset of the war, Germany demonstrated just how lethal aircraft could be when used in conjunction with infantry and armour. Indeed, this was the very cornerstone of Blitzkrieg. However, aircraft evolved into weapon delivery platforms in their own right. For the first time, ship-launched attack aircraft could destroy vessels far beyond the visual range of their parent carrier, as demonstrated first by the Royal Navy at Taranto, then at Pearl Harbour by Japan, and finally by US forces as they hopped across the islands of the Pacific.
Heavy bombers pounded cities and factories throughout the war, but the dreams commanders had of aircraft being able to win wars proved to be mislead. A population bombarded did not automatically result in a breakdown of national morale – quite the opposite. Also, technology evolved to counter bomber attacks, from the dogged defence of the British Isles during the Battle of Britain, to the sophisticated layered defences of Germany against the thousand bomber raids.
On the battlefield, the importance of air superiority became apparent, with the dominant force claiming the skies. Once enemy aircraft had been chased from the battlefield, fighter bombers used cannon, bomb and rocket to annihilate ground forces. Even mighty tanks were fodder for the Stuka, Thunderbolt and Typhoon.
Infantry and armour were still needed to wage war and take ground. The addition of aircraft made their task either a great deal easier or far more difficult, depending on how their pilots fared in the air.
This book contains aircraft from every period of the war, for every military force featured in Battlefield Evolution: World at War. Each aircraft has been painstakingly researched, and includes upgrades throughout the war, and multiple payload options, guaranteeing you will find a use for all the weapons included in your average aircraft kit!