Red Phoenix Rising
The Soviet Air Force in World War II
Sales Date: July 1, 2021
448 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in
- Published: July 2021
- Published: June 2019
Choice Outstanding Academic Title
A groundbreaking account of the Soviet Air Force in World War II, the original version of this book, Red Phoenix, was hailed by the Washington Post as both “brilliant” and “monumental.” That version has now been completely overhauled in the wake of an avalanche of declassified Russian archival sources, combat documents, and statistical information made available in the past three decades. The result, Red Phoenix Rising, is nothing less than definitive.
The saga of the Soviet air force, one of the least chronicled aspects of the war, marked a transition from near annihilation in 1941 to the world’s largest operational-tactical air force four years later. Von Hardesty and Ilya Grinberg reveal the dynamic changes in tactics and operational art that allowed the VVS to bring about that remarkable transformation. Drawing upon a wider array of primary sources, well beyond the uncritical and ultra-patriotic Soviet memoirs underpinning the original version, this volume corrects, updates, and amplifies its predecessor. In the process, it challenges many “official” accounts and revises misconceptions promoted by scholars who relied heavily on German sources, thus enlarging our understanding of the brutal campaigns fought on the Eastern Front.
The authors describe the air campaigns as they unfolded, with full chapters devoted to the monumental victories at Moscow, Stalingrad, and Kursk. By combining the deeply affecting human drama of pilots, relentlessly confronted by lethal threats in the air and on the ground, with a rich technical understanding of complex military machines, they have produced a fast-paced, riveting look at the air war on the Eastern Front as it has never been seen before. They also address dilemmas faced by the Soviet Air Force in the immediate postwar era as it moved to adopt the new technology of long-range bombers, jet propulsion and nuclear arms.
Drawing heavily upon individual accounts down to the unit level, Hardesty and Grinberg greatly enhance our understanding of their story’s human dimension, while the book's more than 100 photos, many never before seen in the West, vividly portray the high stakes and hardware of this dramatic tale. In sum, this is the definitive one-volume account of a vital but still underserved dimension of the war—surpassing its predecessor so decisively that no fan of that earlier work can afford to miss it.
"Although Red Phenix Rising retains the basic structure of the original, it is substantially longer and more lavishly illustrated. Its text has been fleshed out with more narrative vignettes and case-studies. Most important, Hardesty and his new co-author, Ilya Grinbert, have enlisted the aid of numerous Russian researchers, thereby incorporating a massive wealth of new facts and findings, all drawn form key archives."—Slavonic and East European Review
"An important addition to the World War II historiography, Red Phoenix Rising helps scholars and laymen better understand the nature of the war in the East, the Soviet order of battle, and the progression of the campaigns."—H-Net Reviews
"A groundbreaking work [that] adds complexity to our picture of the ‘Great Patriotic War’. . . . In their amply illustrated and well organized book, Hardesty and Grinberg remind us of a remarkable Soviet success story. . . . This authoritative account of the Soviet Air Force is highly recommended for libraries and students of World War II."—The Russian Review
"[Hardesty and Grinberg] used the original book as a template to create a heavily revised account of the
most remarkable ascent of an air force, from near-total destruction in 1941 to total supremacy in its areas of
operation in 1945. . . . Red Phoenix Rising is an incredibly detailed and authoritative account of
Soviet air war tactics, strategy, and engagements. . . . This remarkable books strength is as a work of powerful, passionate, and serious history, not as just another casual air combat collection."—Air & Space
"A definitive overview, now extensively revised, using three decades worth of newly available Russian materials to
become more definitive than ever."—World War II Magazine
"Even students of the war might be surprised at some of their findings. . . . As war history, it is first rate."—Washington Times
"Quite effective and impressive. . . . It’s probably no exaggeration to say Red Phoenix Rising is the best English-language book ever written about the Soviet Air Force during World War II. . . . This is the best work so far on the topic, filled with facts and figures, sorties and missions, and battles and campaigns. . . . No one studying the Russo-German War can afford to miss this." —Stone & Stone Second World War Books
"The volume sheds new light on the progression of operational and tactical developments of the Soviet Air Force from the dark days of the German invasion on June 22, 1941, through the final victory over Nazi Germany in May 1945, with special emphasis on the titanic battles at Moscow, Stalingrad, and Kursk. Because of the authors’ efforts, today’s readers will finally come to appreciate the heroic efforts of Soviet
aviators found in this book, which is destined to become the definitive study of the Soviet Air Force as well as one of the finest classics of the Russo-German War available to libraries today. Essential."—Choice
“Red Phoenix was in a class of its own when it was first published but limited by what could be known from Soviet sources. This new edition of a classic can now tell the story in full. For anyone who wants to know what contribution the Soviet Air Force made to the grueling victory over Axis forces on the Eastern Front there is no better guide.”—Richard Overy, author of The Air War, 1939–1945
“An impressive and long-awaited work that goes a long way towards filling one of the last major gaps in the historiography of the 1939–1945 air war. It should dominate the field for decades.”—Richard R. Muller, author of The German Air War in Russia
List of Illustrations
Abbreviations and Terms
1. An Arduous Beginning
2. The Air Battle for Moscow
4. Over the Kuban
6. At Full Stride
7. Triumph and Vulnerability