Coastal Command 1939-1945: Photographs from the Imperial War Museum
Ian Carter

This is a pictorial history of the British Coastal Command, it was less glamorous than the Fighter Command and less controversial than the Bomber Command so it is perhaps no surprise that it has been somewhat ignored in publications on the RAF.

After an introductory chapter covering the inter-war period, each year of the war is discussed in an individual chapter, briefly covering equipment changes (aircraft as well as things such as bombs, radars and searchlights), tactics, organization and of course what their main targets were, this varied during the war with the Coastal Command flying anti-submarine, anti-shipping and convoy protection missions.
These pages are well-written and form a good basis for understanding these forces, but the important thing in a book such as this is of course the photos! The 160 pages in the book include hundreds of high quality photos. The majority of the photos are of the aircraft (on ground as well as in the air) showing how the material made available to the Costal Command improved over the years but there are also many photos of the crews and from missions.
The photo captions are from the original Air Ministry files with some additional material in some cases, on the whole these are good or even very good, never are they of the “Two Bristol Beaufighters” type, there are always more than just a simple identification.
On the downside the book does not cover the photo-reconnaissance, the meteorological and air-sea rescue units and only focuses on the front-line combat units.

This is a very good photo history of the Coastal Command though the text left me wishing for more details such as short bios of the commanders and more information on the different types of aircraft used, but that is more than we can expect from photo books.

(Reviewed by Marcus Wendel)

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