/ Published April 30, 2019
The Daring World War II Raid on Ploesti by William R. Bradle. Pelican Publishing Company, 2017, 268 pp.
This work gives a detailed account of Operation Tidal Wave, the raid on the oil complex at Ploesti, Romania. The raid was a bold gamble to knock out the main oil supply for Nazi Germany. An important political aspect of the raid was to illustrate support for the Soviet Union on the Eastern Front. While the raid ultimately did not succeed, it was a strategic victory because it demonstrated American resolve and was an important morale booster for the US. Bradle’s book stands out from other works on the strategic air campaign that address more general strategy as opposed to details regarding a specific raid.
The author discusses the planning for the raid in comprehensive detail, including the selection of the crews and the equipment used. Bradle also points out the failures of the raid, such as faulty intelligence which underestimated the number of antiaircraft weapons that were defending Ploesti, and that most of the guns were manned by German crews. The author also discusses the significance and ultimate negative aspects that maintaining radio silence had on the mission. The book is well-sourced. The citations and bibliography are insightful. In detailing the Ploesti raid, the author also discusses the Allied air campaign in Europe in general. As a result, readers get a strong appreciation of how this raid tied into Allied strategy in general.
The author’s reliance on raid participants accounts gives the work an authenticity that few other works on this topic can match. In examining the actions and aftermath of many raid participants in detail, the reader gets a sense of knowing personally many of the aircrews who flew the mission. An interesting component of the book is that it discusses what became of the crews who were shot down. Some of the survivors were rescued or were able to make it to Yugoslavia where they joined up with partisan units. Others were captured and held in the Romanian capital Bucharest. They were liberated when the Soviets invaded the country, and Romania switched sides.
This work is well-written and researched. It is beneficial to scholars studying the air campaign in Europe during World War II. This study includes information on how Germany organized its air defenses. The Daring World War II Raid on Ploesti also illustrates the importance Romania played in the Axis alliance as the main supplier of oil to the Third Reich. In conclusion, this work is an impressively detailed account of one of the most significant raids of World War II.
Dr. John P. Miglietta