THE LUFTWAFFE by James S. Corum


Creating the Operational Air War, 1918-1940
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 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 Gîring (``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. (40 illustrations, not seen)

Pub Date: July 30th, 1997
ISBN: 0-7006-0836-2
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Univ. Press of Kansas
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 1997


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