The Last Year of the Luftwaffe, May 1944 – May 1945

The brief career of the Nazi Luftwaffe ran from the Spanish Civil War to the apex of power, with the victory in the Battle for France, the check, by the Battle of Britain and the increasingly fast slide to defeat. In 1944 the promise of new wonder weapons lay against the reality of losing air superiority in the skies over the Homeland and the similar defeat on the Eastern Front . – Highly Recommended.


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NAME: The Last Year of the Luftwaffe, May 1944 – May 1945
FILE: R2511
AUTHOR: Alfred Price
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword, Frontline
BINDING: soft back
PAGES:  191
PRICE: £12.99
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: WWII, World War 2, World War II, Second World War, jet 
aircraft, anti-aircraft missiles, rocket planes, stealth aircraft, 
the final phase, counting down to the end 

ISBN: 978-1-84832-866-2

IMAGE: B2511jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/mkdelen
LINKS:  
DESCRIPTION: The brief career of the Nazi Luftwaffe ran from the 
Spanish Civil War to the apex of power, with the victory in the 
Battle for France, the check, by the Battle of Britain and the 
increasingly fast slide to defeat. In 1944 the promise of new wonder 
weapons lay against the reality of losing air superiority in the 
skies over the Homeland and the similar defeat on the Eastern Front  
-  Highly Recommended.

The author had written a compelling account of the final shout of 
the once invincible Luftwaffe, from Eagle to Shitehawk in less than 
a decade. The absorbing text is complemented with some fine 
illustrations.

The renewed Luftwaffe began before the Nazi rise to power as a 
covert air force compelled to use a potential enemy, with an 
opposing philosophy, to hide the training of pilots and testing of 
new warplanes. More widespread pilot training was carried out in 
plain sight with gliding clubs across Germany. By the time the Nazis 
came to power the basic structure was already in place, staffed by 
experienced aviators, many with WWI combat experience. 

When Hitler decided to call his neighbours' bluff by reoccupying the 
Rhineland and beginning his expansion by little steps, it was time 
to unveil the new Luftwaffe. At that point even the most committed 
appeasers could see how the Germans had duped them and ignored the 
terms of the peace treaty that followed WWI. What the politicians 
could not agree on was how to respond. They sat in self-imposed 
impotency as Hitler followed each new expansion with another 
provocative step towards the Greater Germany he had described in 
Mein Kampf. The politicians could hardly complain that they had not 
been warned by Hitler himself.

Germany decided to support General Franco in his attempt to seize 
power in Spain by winning the Civil War. To put flesh on their 
support, the Nazis formed the Kondor Legion of 'volunteer' aviators 
and sent them to Spain with the newest aircraft just being issued to 
the Luftwaffe. The Kondor Legion made a significant contribution to 
Franco's victory, but they made an even greater contribution to the 
Luftwaffe and its new equipment.

In the 1930s, the new generation of metal monoplane bombers and 
fighters was just emerging. They outclassed overnight the biplanes 
that equipped most air forces and had advanced little from 1918. 
They introduced many new challenges in terms of manufacture and 
repair, but they also revolutionised air warfare and demanded the 
development of new tactics. The Germans did their tactical development 
in Spain under full war conditions.

When the Germans invaded Poland, they may have still been short of 
modern equipment but what they did have was used as the strike force 
and demonstrated the power of integrated air and ground forces moving 
fast through the enemy and bypassing some defences to maintain speed 
of advance, allowing following units that still lacked many of the 
modern weapons to mop up the enemy strongholds conventionally, or 
just surround them so that they could not present a threat to the 
rear of the forward mechanized units.

The invasion of Norway, the neutral Low Countries, and the Battle of 
France only reinforced the belief that the Luftwaffe and the Panzer 
Armies were invincible. The British triumph of evacuating large 
numbers of British and French soldiers from under the enemy noses 
was largely dismissed. Certainly it was not a victory in the accepted 
sense of military victory, but it was the first demonstration that 
the Luftwaffe was not all conquering even when it had beaches packed 
with enemy soldiers to bomb and machine-gun. As importantly, it meant 
that the British had managed to bring home a large part of its 
trained soldiery even if most of their equipment was left behind. 
There will be continuing controversy of what might have happened had 
the Germans invaded the British Isles but, even if the Germans had 
achieved air and sea superiority in the Chanel and South East Britain, 
they would have faced a determined defence by the sons of the Old 
Contemptibles who had been dismissed by the WWI German army, only to 
halt the much larger force and then counter attack convincingly. 
However, it all came down to the two opposing air forces and, on 
paper, it was no contest, with the Germans heavily outnumbering the 
RAF in numbers of aircraft and crewing them with battle hardened 
veterans, against an RAF Fighter Command that included many very 
raw young pilots straight from flying school with only a handful of 
hours on modern fighters.

The outcome was a surprise, probably even for the British. What the 
Germans had failed to appreciate was that the RAF had the most 
advanced and thoroughly tested, radar-based command and control 
system that made maximum use of the fighters available. Industry 
had also been reworked to provide increasing numbers of new aircraft 
and spares to the point where the real RAF problem was finding 
pilots to fly all these new machines in combat. Getting them to the 
squadrons and taking damaged aircraft back for repair was brilliantly 
addressed by some incredibly brave young women, and men beyond the 
age for combat, flying all types of war plane in the ATA to keep the 
fighting units supplied with fully functioning aircraft. The 
Luftwaffe got its first taste of defeat when it failed to establish 
the air superiority essential for an invasion of Britain. From that 
point it was downhill at a gathering pace. By May 1944 even the most 
ardent Nazis in the Luftwaffe could see that German victory was no 
longer possible and it was only a matter of hoping that continuing 
resistance would result in better peace terms.

The Luftwaffe continued to fight to the best of its ability but 
suffered from lack of fuel, munitions, spares and new aircraft. The 
advanced jet warplanes were late with small numbers completing 
manufacture. The situation was nicely summed up by General of 
Fighters Adolf Galland who remarked that he, a Kondor Legion 
veteran, started WWII as a major commanding a fighter squadron and 
ended the war as a General commanding a fighter squadron that was 
often grounded for lack of fuel even if the aircraft were advanced 
jet fighters, expected to destroy clouds of heavy bombers.