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Sharks of the Air: Willy Messerschmitt and How He Built the World's First Operational Jet Fighter
     

Sharks of the Air: Willy Messerschmitt and How He Built the World's First Operational Jet Fighter

4.6 8
by James Neal Harvey
 

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In July 1944 the Allies were stunned by the appearance of the Messerschmitt Me-262, the world’s first operational jet warplane. This new German fighter was more than 100 mph faster than any other aircraft in the skies. Although always greatly outnumbered, the Me-262 gained scores of victories over Allied fighters and bombers, and by the end of the war, many of

Overview

In July 1944 the Allies were stunned by the appearance of the Messerschmitt Me-262, the world’s first operational jet warplane. This new German fighter was more than 100 mph faster than any other aircraft in the skies. Although always greatly outnumbered, the Me-262 gained scores of victories over Allied fighters and bombers, and by the end of the war, many of the Luftwaffe’s greatest aces had clamored to be in their cockpits. No wonder military leaders believed that if it had been introduced earlier, this jet could have changed the outcome of the war.

Sharks of the Air tells the story of Willy Messerschmitt’s life, and shows how this aeronautical genius built many revolutionary airplanes—not excluding the Luftwaffe’s mainstay, the Me-109—and culminating in the Me-262. It describes how his various warplanes fought in Spain, Poland, France, Britain, the U.S.S.R., and over Germany, and it provides thrilling accounts of air battles drawn from combat reports and interviews with veterans.

This book also shows how Messerschmitt—like other geniuses such as Porsche, von Braun, and Speer— was affected by cutthroat Nazi politics, and describes his intense rivalries with other aircraft designers. It reveals aspects of his life never before made public, including his love affair with the beautiful Baroness Lilly Michel-Rolino, a rich aristocrat who left her husband to live with Willy.

And finally it shows how in Word War II Messerschmitt believed he was loyally supporting the Fatherland, until he realized too late that Hitler was a madman. Like many of the technical innovations of Nazi Germany in the war, production arrived too late in order to change the final outcome. If Messerschmitt had been given free rein from the start, however, Allied air superiority might never have occurred.

Author James Neal Harvey has been a pilot for more than 40 years and has owned a dozen aircraft (including a De Havilland Tiger Moth built for the RAF, a Stinson V-77 that flew in the Royal Navy, and a Messerschmitt Bf-108 that served in the Luftwaffe). Author of six previous books, his grasp of aero-dynamics informs the narrative, as he examines how Messerschmitt might well have changed the course of the Second World War.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Harvey (Dead Game) a pilot with 40 years of experience, examines not only the life of Messerschmitt, but the rapidly changing world during the first half of the 20th century. Following WWI, Messerschmitt made a name for himself designing gliders and powered gliders in the 1920s. By the mid-1930s, with Germany openly defying the Treaty of Versailles, he'd designed and built the Bf-109 fighter, the world's fastest all-metal fighter aircraft. In 1939, he submitted plans for a jet powered fighter that would become the Me-262, a revolutionary aircraft. An unnamed American General even speculated that the Me-262 could have prevented the Normandy Invasion, but changes sent down by the Air Ministry and unreliable jet engines delayed its operational use until 1944. In chronicling Messerschmitt and his era, Harvey also exposes the cutthroat politics among top Nazi officials, all jockeying to be Hitler's favorite. With all of the political intrigues and maneuvering, it is no surprise that the "1000-year Reich" lasted only 12 years. Well researched and written with verve. (Jan. 5)
World War II Magazine
Gear head's history at heart, spiced with bracing air battle accounts of Willy's planes in action and an adulterous affair with a baroness.
Journal of Americas Military Past
...demonstrates a mastery and understanding...Readers who enjoy detailed battle writing should like Tucker’s text...members who are interested in the story of the Alamo and on the creation and veneration of myth in American History should read...”
Military Scale
“…uses his 40 years of flying experience and experience of aviation to tell the fascinating story of Messerschmitt and how, given the right conditions, Messerschmitt and other German aircraft designers could have changed the course of WWII.”
Aeroplane
“…interesting in its coverage of the famous designer and his problems with the authorities….Written in an open style…easy to read…”
Scale Aircraft Modeling
“…a fascinating book, an insight into the life of a man who played a role in the Nazi war machine, but is not defined by it.”
World War II magazine
“Gear head’s history at heart, spiced with bracing air battle accounts of Willy’s planes in action and an adulterous affair with a baroness.”
Military Times
"…exposes the cut throat politics among top Nazi officials, and reveals new details of the aeronautical genius's life…"
06/2011

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781935149460
Publisher:
Casemate Publishers
Publication date:
01/05/2011
Pages:
352
Sales rank:
1,305,770
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author

Author James Neal Harvey has been a pilot for more than 40 years and has owned a dozen aircraft (including a De Havilland Tiger Moth built for the RAF, a Stinson V-77 that flew in the Royal Navy, and a Messerschmitt Bf-108 that served in the Luftwaffe). Author of six previous books, his grasp of aero-dynamics informs the narrative, as he examines how Messerschmitt might well have changed the course of the Second World War.

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Sharks of the Air: Willy Messerschmitt and How He Built the World's First Operational Jet Fighter 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great book. It has lots of back story from the German point of view. Things like the difficulty in getting materials, what it was like building planes for Germany and problems they ran into during productiom. I would highly reccomend this to anuone who likes to read about airplanes.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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mahughesnh More than 1 year ago
This book was an interesting read, telling the story from the other side. But in some ways it read more like a novel. This does make the subject matter more palatable for the less well informed, but it lacks depth.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago