THE SKY ON FIRE by Major Raymond H. (USAF) Fredette


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This is the story of the first Battle of Britain 1917-1918 and of the birth of the Royal Air Force. It concentrates on strategic bombing, pretty much to the exclusion of the air war over France, a more celebrated endeavor. The effects of the German bombing of Britain have not been understood by historians generally. It was thought later, for example, that massive air strikes by bombers could decisively defeat a population. But Goering's tremendous attacks on WWII London only proved that the bomber was not the ultimate weapon and, in fact, that bombing created a sense of resistance in the bombed peoples. The very first bombing of London, in 1916, was a weird experience: no Londoner had seen a plane and suddenly at high noon the city suffered six detonations. Damage was minor but Londoners thought the act quite cheeky of the Germans. The next raid, by 22 bombers over Folkstone, woke England to what it was facing. It then developed an air defense system of guns, planes, barrage balloons and communications that was essentially the same used in WWII. Fredette covers the German side brilliantly and evocatively. The Germans finally developed a colossal bomber whose wingspan was only three feet less than our B-29 Superfortress during WWII, but the German situation in France had deteriorated so badly that bombing runs on England were called off...A seldom examined aspect of WWI air strategy, excellently illustrated.

Pub Date: Aug. 11th, 1966
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston