THE AIR WAR, 1939-1945 by R.J. Overy

THE AIR WAR, 1939-1945

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Quite literally ""the first general history of the air war to appear in English""-add not merely a chronological replay. In the early chapters, Overy (King's College, London) provides operational accounts of the air-forces' role in Europe up to American entry, and after; and in the Pacific. Then, and most exceptionally, he deals separately with all facets of the air war: planning, organization, manpower, equipment, and doctrine. Though the RAF, the US Army Air Forces, the Luftwaffe, and the Soviet Air Force are focal, considerable attention is paid also to the Japanese, the Italians, and the various naval air forces. Many problems of air power are examined--from the creation of a proper balance among fighters, bombers, and other types of aircraft, to the difficulties of replacement, maintenance, and repair (which all air forces under-estimated), to the very serious question of pilot training and supply. Special stress is placed on the significance of prewar planning: while Germany seemed to be pulling ahead of Britain in the 1930s, for instance, Britain was actually laying far firmer foundations for a wartime expansion--beginning, as early as 1934, to identify prospectively-useful industrial facilities, as well as scientific, technical, and managerial personnel. Essentially a comparative study, the book presumes a basic knowledge of the course of the war. It is honest (e.g., in assessing strategic bombing as a general failure, with the probable exception of Japan), broadly informed, and, the analysis apart, well-stocked with useful data.

Pub Date: June 12th, 1981
Publisher: Stein & Day