This is a review by Randy L Harvey of the book, P-47 Thunderbolt vs German Flak Defenses - Western Europe 1943–45 from Osprey Publishing by author Jonathan Bernstein and illustrators Jim Laurier and Gareth Hector and edited by Tony Holmes.


** Since the end of World War II, the tactical air war over Europe has been largely overlooked by historians and authors alike in favor of analysis of the higher profile strategic bombing campaign.  In this volume, Jonathan Bernstein examines the role played by the key Allied fighter-bomber in Western Europe between 1943 and 1945, the P-47 Thunderbolt (principally of the Ninth Air Force), as the aircraft wreaked havoc on German ground forces before, during and after the D-Day landings.  Thunderbolt units undertaking such missions effectively complemented the strategic campaign, ensuring the defeat of Nazi Germany.  As this book reveals through first-hand accounts and historical analysis, Thunderbolt pilots paid a high price to achieve this victory thanks to the well-equipped and highly trained German flak arm.  All key weapons fielded are included in the book, with newly commissioned artwork and archival photography illustrating the wide variety of the guns used to counter the threat posed by the heavily armed Thunderbolt. **  

** Quoted from the back cover of the book.  


Osprey Publications has released P-47 Thunderbolt vs German Flak Defenses - Western Europe 1943–45 as Number 114 in their Duel series. It is an 80 page soft cover book.  Included with the text are black and white photographs, color illustrations, maps, individual profiles, detailed captions and more. It has a 2021 copyright, a publication date of October 28, 2021 and the ISBN is 978-1-4728- 4629-7.  


- Introduction

- Chronology

- Design and Development

- Technical Specifications

- The Strategic Situation

- The Combatants

- Combat

- Statistics and Analysis

- Aftermath

- Further reading

- Index


Author Jonathan Bernstein provides a well written and informative text detailing the use of the American P-47 Thunderbolt during World War II as well as several different types of German towed, vehicle mounted and armor type flak weapons and their use against the P-47.  The development of the P-47 is discussed and its use in combat as well as improvements and modifications made to it.  Well detailed information is provided on the various weapon payloads that the aircraft carried and used and the effects of each.  The military units that the aircraft were assigned to and their base of operations is discussed and well documented.  The same applies to the various types of anti-aircraft, flak, weapons used by the Axis.  The weapons and weapons systems are all nicely detailed with the specifications for each provided such as caliber, rate of fire and range as well as successes and failures and the locations where the weapons were deployed and put to use.  In addition to his own words Jonathan Bernstein has also provided personal accounts and quotes from key individuals.  The text in the book is nicely written and well detailed. As I read through the text, I didn’t notice any spelling errors.   I did find one grammatical error on page 22 where it states “the Flak 38 had reached it effective limit”.  However, the error is minor and take nothing away from the book.  Grammar and spelling might not be an important factor to everyone however it is something that I take notice of and pass on my findings.  I feel that if the text is well written then it shows that the author has taken the time to be professional with their writing.  Anyone wanting to add an excellent reference and history book on American P-47 Thunderbolt aircraft and German anti-aircraft weaponry and combat between them during World War II to their personal library will be pleased with this informative and interesting book.    


A total of 53 black and white photographs and 4 color photographs are included in this volume.  The photographs range from wide angle photographs to close-up detailed photographs.  The contain a combination of in-action photographs, photographs removed from motion pictures to photographs that have been staged for the photographer.  The majority of the photographs are clear and easily viewable; however, a few have an out of focus look to them and some appear to be too dark, and others appear too light.  This is typical for the discussed period of history and the quality of the photographs is of no fault of the author and do not take anything away from the book.  Author Jonathan Bernstein stuck to the title of the book and chose subject specific photographs and did not include photographs that strayed from the main subject of the book.  The majority, if not all, of the photographs will prove to be a wealth of information to anyone interested in the American P-47 Thunderbolt aircraft and various German anti-aircraft weaponry used during World War II due to the details they contain.  


There are 17 color illustrations included in the volume by illustrators Jim Laurier and Gareth                          Hector.  The illustrations are very well done, nicely detailed and are of:

Front Cover

- A dual illustration featured on the front cover of the book showing:

- Lieutenant Colonel Howard Galbreath of the 507 Fighter Squadron in his P47D Thunderbolt “Booby Snooks” engaging a German armored formation northeast of Bonn, Germany. 

- A German Sd.Kfz. 7/1 of Luftwaffe II flakkorps defending the German 7th Army against allied fighter-bombers. 

Plate A

Sd.Kfz. 7/1 half-track with Flakvierling 38 2cm flak gun

- A two-page illustration featuring three illustrations showing the top, left side, and front views of a Sd.Kfz. 7/1 half-track with Flakvierling 38 2cm flak gun.

Plate B

Flakpanzer IV Wirbelwind

- A single illustration featuring a left side view of a Flakpanzer IV Wirbelwind.

Plate C

AN/M2 0.50-cal. Machine Guns

- A single illustration showing a top view of the eight .50 caliber machineguns and ammunition trays in the wings of P47 Thunderbolt.  

Plate D

US Bombs and Rockets

- Three illustrations showing separate bottom views of the right side of a P47 Thunderbolt fuselage and wing featuring:

- M8 Rockets and AN/M64 Bomb

- FFARs and M27 Cluster Bombs

- HVARs and AN/M81 Fragmentation Bombs 

Plate E

Sprenggranate Patronen 18

- A single illustration showing a single German Sprenggranate Patronen 18 high explosive 3.7cm round that was used in FlaK 18, FlaK 36 and FlaK 43 weapons.

Plate F

FlaK 43 Zwilling

- A single illustration showing the right-side view of a German FlaK 43 Zwilling 3.7cm antiaircraft gun. 

Plate G

FlaK 103/38 Jaboschreck

- A single illustration showing the left side view of a German 3cm FlaK 103/38 Jaboschreck antiaircraft gun.

Plate H

12-aircraft formation 

- A single illustration showing the standard 12-aircraft formation for the US Ninth Air Force P47 Thunderbolt fighter bombers.   

Plate I

Attacking flak batteries

- A two-page illustration showing a P47 Thunderbolt of the 406th FS/371st FG attacking a Kriegsmarine 2cm FlaK 29 pedestal-mounted weapon on Ile de Cézembre with a 500lb bomb.  

Plate J

P-47D-28 Thunderbolt Cockpit

- A one-page illustration showing key components of a P-47D-28 Thunderbolt cockpit.  Also provided is a key which details 59 specific items, and their function, that are pointed out in the cockpit

Plate K

Engaging The Enemy

- A one-page action illustration depicting Colonel Leo Moon, commander of the 404th Fighter Group climbing away from his attack on German supply trains bringing supplies and reinforcements to the Ardennes front in December 1944.  His aircraft is being shot at by German carriage-mounted FlaK 43 batteries.  


 The captions are well written and explain the accompanying photographs and illustrations in great detail eliminating any doubt as to what is shown.  The captions go into very specific detail as to the specific type of aircraft shown, specific parts shown on the aircraft, the type of damage to the aircraft and what type of weapon caused it, the type and designation of various weapons, specific individuals names, dates, locations and other such pertinent information.  As I read through the captions, I didn’t notice any spelling or grammatical errors.  I was impressed by Jonathan Bernstein’s captions as they are very helpful to the reader due to their detailed content as opposed to other captions that I have seen that are very brief and lacking in detail.   



There 2 individuals profiled in this volume and they are:

- Wolfgang Pickert

      - Luftwaffe general who commanded the German III Flak Corps.

- Elwood R. “Pete” Quesada

      - Commanding general of the United States 9th Fighter Command


There are 2 maps included in this volume:

- Western Europe flak batteries

- The map shows the disposition of German flak batteries on the eve of Operation Overlord in June 1944.

- Airfield Locations – with a key on the following page

- The map shows the locations of the following airfields:

     - Normandy airfields

     - Central and eastern France airfields

     - XII TAC airfields

     - Belgian and Dutch airfields

     - German airfields


There are 4 informational charts included in this volume and they provide information on the following:

- P-47D-30-RE/RA Specification

- Flakvierling 38 Specification

- Flak 43 Specification  

- MG 151/20 Specification



There is 1 note included in this volume and it is:

- Acknowledgements


As with the other Osprey Publishing titles I was impressed with this book.  This is a very nice reference book that contains a well written informative text, many subject specific photographs and illustrations, well detailed captions and more, all detailing P-47 Thunderbolt action in Europe and German flak defense reactions to them during World War II.  As with the other Osprey Publishing titles, I would have no hesitation to recommend this book to others as it will be a welcome addition to one’s personal reference library.  

Osprey Publishing also offers P-47 Thunderbolt vs German Flak Defenses Western Europe 1943–45 as:

eBook (ePub) ISBN: 978-1-4728- 4630-3


eBook (PDF) ISBN: 978-1-4728- 4627-3

Osprey Publishing’s, P-47 Thunderbolt vs German Flak Defenses Western Europe 1943–45 is also available as an electronic Kindle version through 


US $22.00 / UK £13.99 / CAN $30.00

This book was provided to me by Osprey Publishing.  Please be sure to mention that you saw the book reviewed here on the KitMaker Network when you make your purchase.  Thank you. 



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