- USAF Academy Department of History
Fighting With the Soviets: The Failure of Operation FRANTIC. 1944-1945
by 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, 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.