The Luftwaffe: Creating the Operational Air War, 1918-1940 / Edition 1

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"A distinguished and provocative book that makes a major contribution to the fields of air power history and German military history."—Dennis Showalter, author of Tannenburg: Clash of Empires

"A first-rate, convincing, and impeccably researched account of the forging of the Luftwaffe's operational doctrine that carried it through the opening campaigns of the Second World War."—Richard R. Muller, author of The German Air War in Russia

"A great achievement that impresses by the author's comprehensive grasp of his subject.—Horst Boog, editor of The Conduct of the Air War in the Second World War

"Against the dogma that the Luftwaffe was merely a 'tactical air force,' Corum provides some powerful arguments. His work is a necessary correction to the historical record."—Klaus A. Maier, coauthor of the multivolume Germany and the Second World War

"The best account of the development of the Luftwaffe's operational doctrine and theory to appear in any language."—Edward L. Homze, author of Arming the Luftwaffe: The Reich Air Ministry and the German Aircraft Industry

"This lucid and vigorously argued volume can be warmly recommended to everyone interested in the history of air power in the first half of the twentieth century."—Brian Bond, author of The Pursuit of Victory and War and Society in Europe, 1870-1970

Author Biography: James S. Corum is professor of comparative military studies at the School of Advanced Airpower Studies at Maxwell Air Force Base and the author of The Roots of Blitzkrieg: Hans von Seeckt and German Military Reform.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Military planners learn from the mistakes of their predecessors and borrow from their successes. Because of prohibitions forced on it by the victorious Allies, the German Air Force (Luftwaffe) reformed itself internally (and secretly) after World War I and then in 1935 burst on the world scene virtually overnight as an effective military arm. Through lessons learned from its participation in the Spanish Civil War, the Luftwaffe developed tactics and matriel that enabled it to produce a stunning series of conquests when World War II began in 1939. Corum (The Roots of Blizkrieg, LJ 11/1/92) has meticulously researched this metamorphosis and produced a scholarly treatise on the personalities, forces, and psychological makeup of one of history's most successful military rebirths. A necessary addition to military and history collections emphasizing World War II and the evolution of warfare.Mel D. Lane, Sacramento, Cal.
Kirkus Reviews
A scholar's eye-opening appraisal of Germany's air forces from the postWW I era through the early stages of WW II.

Wryly noting that the victors in any conflict get to write its history, Corum (Comparative Military Studies/Maxwell Air Force Base's School of Advanced Airpower) offers a persuasive, against- the-grain briefing on the Luftwaffe, long dismissed by mainstream annalists as an essentially tactical force geared to support Wehrmacht ground operations. In fact, he observes, archival sources disclose that the Luftwaffe drew resourcefully upon the lessons of WW I and the Spanish Civil War to create a coherent and practicable doctrine of aerial warfare. Nor, the author shows, were the Luftwaffe's strengths or weaknesses attributable in any great measure to its nominal leader, Hermann Göring ("a man who actually knew very little about air power"). The greatest contributions to what in 1939 ranked as the world's most combat-effective air force, Corum documents, were made by General Walter Wever, Field Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen, and other of the air staff's unsung theorists. Corum goes on to address the ways in which the Luftwaffe evaluated innovations in aircraft technology, developed the infrastructure required to sustain farflung aerial units, endlessly debated the future role of air power, and generally steered clear of the Third Reich's political ideologues. Covered as well are the Luftwaffe's alleged dismissal of strategic bombing, lack of long- distance escort fighters, and bent for terror raids. While the Luftwaffe had lost the production battle by 1942 and fought outnumbered on all fronts, the author points out that it remained a formidable foe through 1944. As for its defeat in the 1940 Battle of Britain, Corum argues that the Luftwaffe was damaged by poor intelligence.

Revisionist military history of a high order.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780700609628
  • Publisher: University Press of Kansas
  • Publication date: 3/28/1999
  • Series: Modern War Studies Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 392
  • Sales rank: 1,281,951
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
1 The Lessons of World War I 15
2 Response to Disarmament: Von Seeckt and Wilberg 49
3 Preparation for Aerial Rearmament 85
4 Theory and Air Doctrine in the Wever Era, 1933-1936 124
5 Air Organization and Technology in the Wever Era, 1933-1936 155
6 The Luftwaffe in the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939 182
7 The Luftwaffe Prepares for War: Problems with Leadership and Organization 224
Conclusion 271
Notes 289
Bibliography 345
Index 369
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