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At the outbreak of World War II the Luftwaffe was considered by many to be the world's most powerful air force. Driven by the new strategy of Blitzkrieg, or lightening war, in a very short time it stormed across Europe. Opposing air forces were swept aside as the Luftwaffe blasted a path for the Panzers and protected their flanks as they raced for the sea. Flushed with victory, its formidable reputation apparently justified, the Luftwaffe regrouped in occupied Western Europe for a final showdown with its one ...
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At the outbreak of World War II the Luftwaffe was considered by many to be the world's most powerful air force. Driven by the new strategy of Blitzkrieg, or lightening war, in a very short time it stormed across Europe. Opposing air forces were swept aside as the Luftwaffe blasted a path for the Panzers and protected their flanks as they raced for the sea. Flushed with victory, its formidable reputation apparently justified, the Luftwaffe regrouped in occupied Western Europe for a final showdown with its one remaining enemy v Britain. Supremely confident, the odds seemed to be on their side. But in the summer of 1940 they suffered a dramatic defeat during the Battle of Britain, and by May 1945 the Germans had surrendered to the Allies and the Third Reich collapsed. What went wrong? How could things have been different? What if Goering, the brilliant yet flawed Luftwaffe commander, had died prematurely in September 1940? What radical alterations in the pattern of command would have transpired? What if Luftwaffe strategic bomber force had become a reality? In this engagingly written and thought-provoking addition to the fascinating Greenhill alternate history series, aviation historian Mike Spick asks these very questions, envisaging a dramatic alternate reality in which the Luftwaffe succeed in defeating Allied forces.
Posted October 23, 2005
Nazi Germany exerts a never-ending fascination, and the spate of 'What If?' books continues unabated. Mike Spick's excellent 'Luftwaffe Victorious' is one of the latest. In our world Germany and the Luftwaffe lost because of a lack of numbers in men and machines, lack of long-range planning, absence of key weapons systems, incompetence/irrationality of leaders, and subversion of the Axis war effort by its own monstrous amorality. Mike Spick repairs some of the faults to give the Germans a fighting chance. By having Hermann Goring, Luftwaffe Commander-in-Chief, die in the Battle of Britain-- leading a bombing raid!-- his ego got the better of him-- it clears the way for abler men to take over. Here Germany develops a long-range bomber force, aircraft carriers, extended range for the Me 109 and other planes (through auxiliary fuel tanks), a large jet force early enough to matter, and advanced subs. Yet the course of World War II in its first two years here doesn't differ fundamentally from the real WWII, and this kind of failure of possibilities is an annoyance in many 'What If's'. Fortunately, Spick begins moving the war into intriguingly different channels: The Germans seizing the Caucasus and its oil. The Battle of Stalingrad leading to no crushing German defeat. Soviet factories attacked in the Urals. Our bombers struggling against German jets. The Normandy landing not stopped, but apparently stalemated. All leading to the inevitable great crescendo in late 1945-- who gets the A-Bomb first? And victory. Spick commands an impressive knowledge of World War II. His straightforward prose moves the story forward at a good pace. He knows the major players, their singular personalities. My only criticisms of this excellent book are these: Like every Alternative World War II book I've read its emphasis is hardcore military, concentrating on the mechanics of war-fighting, and by de-emphasizing or ignoring ideology, atrocities, Holocaust, the books lose full reality, become more like military chess games. Also, it's difficult to accept a somewhat more reasonable Hitler. As for the Dornier 19 'Uralbomber', which plays such a key role in this book, in reality it was cancelled in 1937. Lack of suitable engines was a primary factor. Suitable engines are found here, the Dornier's range and speed increased, but even so its bomb load remains a pathetic 4,410 pounds. (The U.S.'s B-29 Super Fortress could deliver two 10-ton bombs.) Would the Germans really have gone ahead with it under any scenario? Of course, here, if they don't, there's no book. Lastly, I protest the absence of an index, intolerable in such a technology-packed work. But in the end this book is an absolute success. I simply raced through it, pulled forward by a huge story skillfully told, which so easily and scarily could have been real.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 17, 2005
Overall I am very impressed with the author's background research especially in regards to Germany's radar and early drop tanks. Certainly I would agree with him about the Genius of Walther Wever and Udet's lack of command talent, however I most certainly disagree with him about the potential of the Dornier 19. I disagree with him fitting a drop tank to the Messerschmitt 109 solving the long range escort problem. Using captured French Bloch 157s fitted with drop tanks, or Focke-Wulfe 190s, would do a better job. And though getting Goering out of the way might have improved the Luftwaffe's performance, the big problem for the Luftwaffe like all of Germany's armed forces and government was Hitler. Overall a good book for a realist historian rather than a fantasy lover.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.