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2nd Tactical Air Force
Volume 4: Squadrons, Camouflage and Markings, Weapons and Tactics 1943-1945

Classic Publications


S u m m a r y


2nd Tactical Air Force Volume 4: Squadrons, Camouflage and Markings, Weapons and Tactics 1943-1945


978 1 906537 01 2

Media and Contents:

Hardcover, 176 pages


MSRP US$54.95, £35.00, available online from Specialty Press, Ian Allen Publications and good bookshops worldwide.

Review Type:

First Read


An excellent source for many of the modeling-related aspects of  2TAF aircraft – paint, markings, and ordnance – in photographic, colour illustration, and textual form. Well rendered profiles of a large variety of aircraft; enough to inspire any modeler of this aspect of the Second World War. Deeply researched, authoritative writing and well presented data collation. High-quality printing and physical production standards.


May cost up to 4x the cover price in some cases: For, after owning this one you’re going to want to go out and get the previous three volumes if you don’t have them already!


No reservations whatsoever. Highly recommended to modelers and armchair historians alike.

Reviewed by Terry Higgins

2TAF Volume Four is available online from Squadron.com




Graphically, this volume follows the style and format of the previous three: loads of new photographs (in addition to some oldies given new contextual relevance), a fine harvest of Chris Thomas’ model-project-inspiring profiles, and skads of well written, informative, authoritative text. The result is a book that is very difficult to just flip through. You’ll want to stop flipping and start reading more times than a single lunch break allows. So don’t bring it to work with you! Give it the evening or two in the armchair it deserves. Thereafter, just before you head to the hobby shop with some spare coin in your pocket, flip it open to any page for project inspiration.

Editorially, it breaks from the well-paced chronological history of operations presented within the previous 3 volumes to delve instead, into the finer details of the men, machines, and organizations that made up 2TAF. This serves to complement Volumes 1 to 3 very nicely, especially from an armchair historian’s perspective. From a modelers point of view, in my humble opinion volume 4 may be seen as the more important of the set due to its written coverage of both camouflage and markings, and the weapons used by the various aircraft types; always a big part of any contemporary modeling project. Personally, the modeler in me found the 4th and 5th chapters – listed as the series’ Chapters Fifteen and Sixteen in the table of contents – especially engrossing. Fifteen (pages 625 through 676) offers a thorough narrative on the various camouflage schemes and markings used on all aircraft types, complete with well placed example illustrations in the form of photographs and profiles. The treatment of the historical background behind changes, including dates and document references, etc, is a definite bonus of this section. Although it supports and corroborates material that is available elsewhere in some cases, I certainly can’t cite any other single publication that keeps all of this so neat and tidy between a single set of covers.

There was also some material that I don’t recall having seen elsewhere:

The two page spread (pgs.638-639) starting with Development of D-Day Markings gave me my first clear visual, complete with measurements, of Operation Starky markings. I’d seen photos, but had never had a good description of this progenitor of “invasion stripes” before. The spread continues with clear, informatively captioned multi-views which signpost the evolution of markings used on 2TAF machines under headings like AEAF ID stripes (i.e. “invasion stripes”), Typhoon and Mustang ID markings, and the final wartime changes in National Markings.

Prior to owning this book, I also have to confess total ignorance regarding the distinctive unit-specific colours applied to the inner main landing gear covers and radiator intake cores of some of 2TAF’s immediate post-war Typhoons. Together with the more easily detected colourful spinners (and, to a lesser extent, fuselage bands) these have all the makings of fresh modeling subjects. Scrap views of the gear doors and spinner / radiator fronts accompany the multitude of profiles to complete the picture. The (only slightly less) colourful Spitfires from the same period are also given the profile and photo treatment.

The armchair historian lurking within most modelers (come on, you know he’s in there?!) will also enjoy the rest of the book. That side of my particular brain lapped it up within a week or so of receiving it. And revisited it often ever since. I’ve also found myself renewing my interest in Volumes 1 thru 3 as well. I could go on with terms like “seminal” and, dare I say, “awesome.” Especially if I were asked about the more purely historical aspects of this book, or the series as a whole.

But, I digress.

To sum up: After covering overall operations and individual combats via the years of digging, careful distillation, and data collation represented in volumes 1, 2, and 3 of this monumental work, in giving us this much anticipated Volume 4, the authors have capped their 2TAF magnum opus in a very modeler-friendly fashion. As if the profiles and photos in the first three volumes weren’t enough to have you digging through the loft and the local hobby shop to commit yet more glue and paint to plastic…

Well done Merssrs Shores and Thomas, and Classic Publications.

My copy of Volume 4 came directly from the publisher, Ian Allen’s Classic Publications.

Review Copyright 2009 by Terry Higgins
This Page Created on 2 July, 2009
Last updated 2 July, 2009

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