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"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.
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.
|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|