487th Bomb Group (H)
Station 137 - Lavenham, Suffolk, UK
22-Sep-43 to 7-Nov-45

The Deadly Skies
by: Bernard Thomas Nolan

Summary of the Book:

The history of air combat in Europe during WWII is grippingly described by Bernard T. Nolan, who was there and who has had decades of experience and research to put his experiences in perspective. Nolan flew 33 combat missions with the Eighth Bomber Command in 1944. Focusing on the Royal Air Force, the U.S. Army Eighth Air Force and the Luftwaffe, the book covers how the WW II air campaign in Western Europe unfolded, how it ended, and its cost in terms of human life – not only for the aircrews in those unfriendly skies, but the innumerable innocents who suffered through the carnage in European cities caused by bombing. The aircraft and equipment, the battles, the strategy, and the people are all described by Nolan with the insight of an insider and the expertise of a scholar, accompanied by detailed illustrations from aviation artist Matt Holness.

From Dunkirk and the Battle of Britain through D-Day to the war’s end, this book takes the reader inside the air battles that played a decisive role in WWII. Chapters sections include: Things to Come – the seeds of bombing strategy are planted; The Interim – the breakthrough in aviation technology; The Few – Battle of Britain, RAF Bomber Command – application of strategy for fire bombing of cities; America Awakens – the creation of the USAAF Eighth Air Force; The Carnage of 1943 – unacceptable attrition suffered by the Eighth Bomber Command; The Formations – assembly and function in both offensive and defensive operations; Glimmers of Hope – the advent and impact of the P-51; Invasion Support – the Luftwaffe never showed up; Oil, Transportation and Communications – the focus on disruption; Das Ende – the defeat of the Luftwaffe; and Prisoners of War covering the death march of Allied prisoners as the war wound down.

Variations and issues in applying bombing strategies by the RAF and the Eighth Air Force are examined in detail as are the moral implications of targeting late in the war – Dresden as the best example. The reader will see why the Allies might regard Hitler and Goering among their assets – assuring with their meddling that the Luftwaffe never had a chance in stopping the bombing and the utter destruction of German cities.

Review copies, excerpts and interviews with the author are available. Information on obtaining the book can be found by clicking here.

Nolan is the author of Isaiah’s Eagles Rising, A Generation of Airmen and co-author of the novel Wild Blue Murder.

About the Author:

The author’s entire life has been spent in aerospace related activities including 22 years in the USAF as an active pilot. Nolan flew 33 missions in B-24s and B-17s with the 8th Bomber Command in Europe in 1944. Following his combat experiences, he was retrained as a transport pilot and flew North Atlantic and other routes for ten years. Thereafter he held various staff jobs until retiring from the Air Force in December 1965. Nolan held a Command Pilot rating and the regular rank of Lt. Col. on retirement.

After leaving the Air Force in 1965, the author took a job with NASA where he worked at Headquarters in Washington, DC for 15 years in various program management assignments. Among these, he was the program manager for NASA’s Airborne Geoscience Program and served as program manager for Landsat Operations. Following his “retirement” from NASA in 1981, he worked as an independent consultant to NASA and as a senior engineer for the Science and Applications International Corporation.

[Back to 487th Books]