Welcome to Cold War Gamer, a blog I am using to record my Cold War wargaming projects. These range from fictitious Cold War hot projects to historical conflicts that took place around the globe throughout the Cold War era, all modelled and gamed in 20mm. The blog includes links to various resources useful to the Cold War Gamer.

My current projects include: Central Front; British & Soviet. South African Border War; Angolans and South Africans. Soviet Afghan War; Soviets and Afghans

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Review - Book, Air Battle Central Europe, Alfred Price, 1986

Richard C over on Cold War Hot Hot Hot gave this such a glowing review that I felt an overwhelming desire to acquire one. It s quite literally another of the Cold War Classic must have titles, given that you are interested in gaming the Air Land component. For me that was one of the critical aspects of warfare in this period, playing the period without it would be like wargaming Afghanistan with no representation of ISTAR, you would be missing one of the key enablers.

Why is this book a gem it explains all facetes of the air battle with amazing clarity, the author an ex officer in the RAF brings both his own experience to bear and the experience of those he interviews. Each of the chapters focuses on a different aspect of air warfare and is underpinned by the knowledge of a serving officer currently flying in that role, which brings with it a fantastic level of detail.

I found the whole thing riveting, despite its association with the Boys in Blue and read it pretty much cover to cover. Having said that the structure of the book with each chapter focusing on a different role makes it a very effective reference vehicle and I have been back to it on numerous occasions since that first read.

The chapters cover:

  • The view from the top - Commander 2 ATAF
  • Integrating the land air battle a soldiers point of view - G3 Air Staf, HQ NORTHAG
  • The air defence battle - F15C, 32 Fighter Sqn USAF
  • The long punch - F111E, 79 Tactical Fighter Sqn USAF
  • The bridge Droppers - F111F, 494 Tactical Fighter Sqn, USAF
  • The Airfield Bashers - Tornado GR1s, 17 Sqn, RAF
  • The Carpet Bombers - Tornados, Jagschwader 31, German Air Force
  • The Jump Jet Dimension - Harriers, 3 and 4 Sqn, RAF
  • The Battlefield Brusiers - A-10, 509th Tactical Fighter Sqn, USAF
  • The Intelligence Gatherers - US RF-4C Phantom Recce, 1st Tactical Reconnaissance Sqn, USAF
  • The Tank Swatters - British AT Helicopter Regiments, 635 Sqn, British AAC
  • The Electronic Foxers - EF 111 Raven, 42 Electronic Combat Sqn, USAF
  • The Wild Weasels - F4G and F4E Phantoms of 52 Tactical Fighter Wing, USAF
  • Guardians of the Baltic shore - Tornadoes and F104s, Marine Flieger Geshwarder 1 and 2, German Navy
  • Protecting the lifeline - No 11 Group, RAF Fighter Command
  • Air Battle Central Europe an Overview - This pulls together the information from the preceding chapters in a coherent summary.

I would say this is the most digestible book I have read on the subject, it's sadly the only book I have read and the only one I feel I need to read so comprehensively and effectively does it address the topic. There are some highly useful books on operations and warfare that are right dull reads, this isn't one, if you have an inkling to understand the Air Land dimension in the later stages of the Cold War you need to read this book.  The red covered version is the US release published 1987 and the Blue the UK published 1986, bizarrely I have both but have yet to compare the content.

Richards Review on Cold War Hot Hot Hot is a little more comprehensive than mine and provides an equally ringing endorsement, it's worth a read as well . If you can land a copy on or below £4 its a steal, to be frank its worth a lot more than the second hand price.

 Air Battle Central Europe @ Amazon

Other Book Reviews:


  1. Good recommendation. I think I remember reading this back in 80's. You are right about the critical aspect for setting up modern wargames. The problem is always finding the right way to reflect it, especially as so much of the Air Battle is focused on deep penetrations and interdiction. Often times this gets translated into disrupted/diminished units on the table and delays in follow-on forces. In scenario design, I will normally force players to make CAS use dependent on certain conditions. (i.e. Those A-10s don't get released until you ID the reserve force)

  2. nice ideas, we worked scenario based air superiority last time out and I have an idea for a game that seeks to examine the depth of the battle with representations of BAI NATO, CAS NATO and Soviet and BAI Soviet along with the sequencing of the force elements on to the defended position and the relevant disruption of follow on forces and reserves. It could take a while to gestate. Thanks for the comment, its got me thinking.

  3. Got it, read it, loved it. Interesting to see that 90% at least of the air support (fixed wing) is for interdiction etc rather than CAS, ie the sort that would feature on a war games table.



    1. agreed although that depends on the nature of your game, the bits I thought might interact with a traditional game were the A10, some part of the Harrier, the Wild Weasel and the Army Air Corps story. With potentially some of the longer range interdiction supporting Air Mobile and Airborne operations.

    2. I tend to game the either extreme of either skirmish (up to a platoon a side) or Operational level so it's either just helicopters or everything with interdiction really playing a part. It's the bit in between that I've yet to get interested in, lack of a decent rule set I reckon.



  4. That's good enough for me! I've just bought it based on your recommendation. It's exactly the kind of thing I'm looking for. As an aside, I've just made the jump to starting a new period - as a cold war warrior, it was inevitable I would get into this period eventually. I've just placed a large order for a Soviet Armoured Regiment in 1/285 (GHQ)! Your blog contains lots of very helpful information so thank you so much for publishing your ORBATS and other gems.

    Best wishes,