Fighting with the Soviets

The Failure of Operation FRANTIC, 1944-1945

Mark J. Conversino

Fighting with the Soviets provides the first comprehensive look at Operation FRANTIC—an ambitious but doomed Allied enterprise that produced the war's only significant Soviet-American military venture and demonstrated just how complex and demanding coalition warfare could be.

Using Ukrainian air bases, FRANTIC was designed to help deliver the knockout blow to the Nazi war machine, while minimizing the severe losses experienced by Allied air forces in daylight bombing campaigns over Germany. In theory, it allowed American bombers to reach targets deeper in Germany, divert Luftwaffe air support away from Normandy, and provide additional cover for battles on the Soviet's western front. American strategists also hoped that the operation would forge closer ties with the USSR and encourage the ever wary Stalin to provide access to Siberian air bases for use against Japan.

“Conversino’s story is as interesting as it is unfamiliar and succeeds in opening up FRANTIC’s many dimensions, including the personal as well as the political, strategic, and operational. His revelations regarding the interactions between American servicemen and Ukrainian Russians are especially valuable and underscore the immense difficulties of implementing alliances at the grass roots level.”

—Dennis Showalter, author of Tannenberg: Clash of Empires

“Well written and, in places, humorous and highly entertaining, Fighting with the Soviets fills an important gap in our understanding of the German-Soviet War and of U.S.-Soviet cooperation during that conflict.”

—David M. Glantz, coauthor of When Titans Clashed: How the Red Army Stopped Hitler

Conversino, however, shows that things did not quite go as planned. After an early period of comradely euphoria, relations between Russians and Americans chilled amidst cultural differences and grew even icier in the wake of the Luftwaffe's decimation of Poltava airbase and Stalin's indifference to the Polish resistance in Warsaw. And, as the Red juggernaut pushed ever deeper toward Berlin, Stalin's support for FRANTIC faded altogether.

Based on a wealth of published Soviet accounts and USAAF documents, as well as numerous interviews with American airmen, Conversino's study portrays one of the great "might-have-beens" of the war and shows how it fell victim to politics, swift victories on the battlefield, and clashing national visions.

About the Author

Mark J. Conversino is a major in the United States Air Force and a professor of airpower history and theory at the School of Advanced Airpower Studies, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.

Additional Titles in the Modern War Studies Series