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Osprey Combat Aircraft No. 64


B-2A Spirit Units in Combat


Thomas Withington


S u m m a r y

Publisher and Catalogue Details: Osprey Combat Aircraft No. 64 B-2A Spirit Units In Combat
ISBN: 1841769932
Media and Contents: Soft cover, 96 pages
Price: GB£12.99 online from Osprey Publishing
Review Type: FirstRead
Advantages: Great insight into an elite and secretive world.
Recommendation: Highly Recommended

Reviewed by Ken Bowes

Osprey's B-2A Spirit Units In Combat
may be ordered  online from Sq



Stealth is what separates the United States Air Force from every other on the globe. Even the potential widespread sale of the F-35 Lightning II will only have a small impact on this edge.
The stealthy B-2A Spirit, with only 21 constructed, is a corner piece of US power projection, both now and into the future. UK based aviation journalist and historian Thomas Withington made his Osprey debut with Combat Aircraft Series Number 60 covering the B-1B Lancer in combat in the Middle East and the Balkans. Now he has followed it up with an equivalent volume on the B-1’s younger sibling the B-2. Having been rolled out in November 1988, the Spirit underwent a long gestation before its combat debut during Operation Noble Anvil in 1999. Since that time it has participated in the major combat operations of the 21st Century, Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. 
The content of this volume commences with a chapter dedicated to the development history of the B-2. The author then follows with a chapter dedicated to each major operation in which the B-2 has been employed, from Noble Anvil in 1999 through Operation Enduring Freedom to Operation Iraqi Freedom. By 2003 the B-2 had become a vital element in US strategy, with its combination of long range and multi-DMPI (desired mean point of impact) capability. It is something that will likely continue for many years to come. Just prior to reading this volume I read “Vulcan 607”, the story of the first Black Back Raid during the Falklands War. At that time the Vulcan required four refuellings to travel almost 8000 miles to and from its single target over 14 hours. In a reflection of its greater range and the capability it provides the US, the B-2A only required five to travel half-way around the world to strike 16 targets in the former Yugoslavia over the course of a 33 hour mission. This experience has formed the basis for the US Global Strike Concept of Operations which will probably last well into the 2030s. With interviews from key air and ground crew, Withington also ensures the story of the B-2 in combat is told in detail both from the technical and human sides.
A comprehensive appendix in this Osprey Combat Aircraft volume includes a complete fleet list with aircraft names and serials for all 21 air vehicles. 16 colour profiles of individual B-2As are included in the centre pages as is common with all Osprey volumes in this series. The end of this volume is a set 1/216th set of scale drawings of the B-2A that some may find useful despite not being a regular modelling scale. The B-2A is an aircraft that both announces the future and harks back to the past, and the many colour photos included adds to this sense. Withington has produced and excellent volume with detailed coverage of a topic of wide interest. Given the ongoing upgrades and central role of the B-2 in US Air Force Global Strike doctrine, it is likely that this will not be the final volume on the B-2As of the 509th Bomb Wing in combat.

Highly Recommended.

Thanks to Osprey Publishing for the review sample.

Review Copyright © 2006 by Ken Bowes
Page Created 22 September, 2006
Last updated 21 September, 2006

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