The Luftwaffe’s struggle against the Allied bomber offensive
A book review.
This book dismisses any possible doubt one might have about the German habit of “gründlichkeit” (thoroughness). A series of 18 interrogations / interviews with Luftwaffe top-commanders, like Adolf Galland (Luftwaffe fighter-ace with 103 victories), Josef Kammhuber (architect of the “Kammhuber-line”), Wolfgang Martini (architect of the Luftwaffe radar and communications network), as well as Willy Messershmitt (designer of the lethal Me-262, the world’s first operational jet fighter) give the reader an extraordinary detailed view of the German air defences during the 1940 – 1945 timeframe and the development of equipment, strategy and tactics. It also provides a rare insight in the German struggle to stay abreast of the rapid Allied technological advances.
The book is structured into five chapters: 1: “The defence of the Reich”, deals with the organization of the air defences; 2: “A battle of increasing numbers and technology”, gives a very detailed overview of the applied procedures and techniques to cope with the growing Allied bomber threat; 3: “Developing technology to defend the Reich”, deals with radar as well as aircraft development, notably the Me-262; 4: “Applying the technology”, describes the problems of command and control in a rapidly changing environment.
The final chapter, 5, is more like an epilogue; in 16 short paragraphs, General Major Hans-Detlef Herhuth von Roden (Chief, Historical Section Luftwaffe High-Command), sums up the reasons why the air defences of the Reich failed. The first of his conclusions “… the German armed forces thought only in an offensive vein (…) of the overall conduct of the war…” sums up the basic strategic flaw in German military thinking at that time.
A wealth of statistical information and diagrams lifts this collection of interviews almost into the “Textbook” category. I recommend this book to all of you who are seriously interested in German WW2 (night) fighter operations and looking for hard, factual data combined with operational experiences.
Published: 26th September 2016