The Luftwaffe and the Royal Air Force The History and Legacy of Nazi Germany and Great Britain's Air Forces in World War II
Posted on 2021-09-10, by book24h.
The Luftwaffe and the Royal Air Force: The History and Legacy of Nazi Germany and Great Britain's Air Forces in World War II by Charles River Editors
English | March 16, 2018 | ISBN: 1986568792 | 133 pages | EPUB | 5.68 Mb
*Includes accounts of the fighting
*Includes online resource and a bibliography for further reading
"My Luftwaffe is invincible...And so now we turn to England. How long will this one last - two, three weeks?" - Hermann Göring, June 1940
The Third Reich's Luftwaffe began World War II with significant advantages over other European air forces, playing a critical role in the German war machine's swift, powerful advance. By war's end, however, the Luftwaffe had been decimated by combat losses and crippled by poor decisions at the highest levels of military decision-making, and it proved unable to challenge Allied air superiority despite a last-minute upsurge in German aircraft production.
Given its unique strengths and distinctive weaknesses by the personal quirks of the men who developed it, the Luftwaffe initially overwhelmed the more conservative, outdated military aviation of other countries. Its leaders embraced such concepts as the dive-bomber, which proved both utterly devastating and extremely useful for supporting the sweeping, powerful movements of Blitzkrieg, while other martial establishments rejected dive-bombers as impractical or even impossible. Though the superb fighting qualities of highly trained and motivated German soldiers, and the Third Reich's technological superiority in tank and weapon design, also had crucial roles to play, the Luftwaffe represented the key element making the successes of all other branches possible. While the Luftwaffe enjoyed air superiority, the combat fortunes of the Third Reich continued to ride high. When control of the air passed decisively to the Allies, Germany's hopes of victory began accelerating into a spiral of defeat.
The Luftwaffe's eventual loss of aerial domination exposed the Germans to precisely the same misfortunes on the ground as they had once relentlessly inflicted on the Poles and Russians. In the Falaise Pocket in Normandy, for example, the splendidly lethal Panthers, Tigers, and Tiger II tanks of the Nazi Panzer Divisions never had the opportunity to destroy the flimsily-armored, outgunned Sherman tanks of their American opponents. Instead, American fighter-bombers systematically annihilated them and their supporting infantry formations from the air, leaving the landscape strewn with flipped-over tank hulks and in places literally carpeted with the flesh of dead men. Some 10,000 Germans died and 50,000 surrendered to the Western Allies at Falaise, due to Hitler's order to counterattack without air support.
Of course, the loss of that domination was due in most part to the efforts of Britain's Royal Air Force, which prevented Nazi Germany from conquering Britain on their own. The Battle of Britain, fought throughout the summer and early autumn of 1940, was unquestionably epic in scope. The largest air campaign in history at the time, the vaunted Nazi Luftwaffe sought to smash the RAF as a prelude to German invasion, leaving the British public and its pilots engaged in what they believed was a desperate fight for national survival. The fate of the free world, at least as Europe knew it, hung in the balance over the skies of Britain.
Of course, the RAF was instrumental in other ways during the war. The RAF supported Allied forces all over the world, from Norway to Burma to Tunisia, and the RAF conducted devastating bombing campaigns against German industry and cities. In the end, the Allies emerged victorious, even as Britain fell behind other leading nations in air technology. World War II witnessed the birth of the jet age, a future glimpsed briefly in the spectacular but doomed appearance of the Messerschmitt Me 262 near the war's end, and Britain would be the only nation other than Germany with a jet fighter in combat by the time World War II was through.
The Luftwaffe and the Royal Air Force: The History and Legacy of Nazi Germany and Great Britain's Air Forces in World War II
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