The Third Reich´s Luftwaffe began World War II with significant advantages over other European air forces, playing a critical role in the German war machine´s swift, powerful advance. By war´s end, however, the Luftwaffe had been decimated by combat losses and crippled by poor decisions at the highest levels of military decision-making, and it proved unable to challenge Allied air superiority despite a last-minute upsurge in German aircraft production. Given its unique strengths and distinctive weaknesses by the personal quirks of the men who developed it, the Luftwaffe initially overwhelmed the more conservative, outdated military aviation of other countries. Its leaders embraced such concepts as the dive-bomber, which proved both utterly devastating and extremely useful for supporting the sweeping, powerful movements of Blitzkrieg, while other martial establishments rejected dive-bombers as impractical or even impossible. Though the superb fighting qualities of highly trained and motivated German soldiers, and the Third Reich´s technological superiority in tank and weapon design, also had crucial roles to play, the Luftwaffe represented the key element making the successes of all other branches possible. While the Luftwaffe enjoyed air superiority, the combat fortunes of the Third Reich continued to ride high. When control of the air passed decisively to the Allies, Germany´s hopes of victory began accelerating into a spiral of defeat. The Luftwaffe: The History of Nazi Germany´s Air Force during World War II looks at the role the German air force played during the war, from its origins to its near demise. 1. Language: English. Narrator: Michael Gilboe. Audio sample: http://samples.audible.de/bk/acx0/036138/bk_acx0_036138_sample.mp3. Digital audiobook in aax.
´´The gratitude of every home in our island, in our Empire, and indeed throughout the world except in the abodes of the guilty goes out to the British airmen who, undaunted by odds, unweakened by their constant challenge and mortal danger, are turning the tide of world war by their prowess and their devotion. Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.” – Winston Churchill, August 21, 1940. At the end of August 2012, BBC ran a report about the commemoration of a young man who had been killed more than 70 years earlier. ´´A Battle of Britain pilot who was killed when his Spitfire crashed following a dogfight in the skies above Kent has been honored. Flying Officer Oswald St John ‘Ossie’ Pigg lost his life in the crash at Elvey Farm on 1 September 1940. The 22-year-old had been involved in an aerial fight with a Messerschmitt. A plaque was unveiled near the site by his niece Stephanie Haigh and the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight carried out a flypast on Thursday.” Just 12 days before Pigg’s death, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill had already immortalized the men of the Royal Air Force with one of the West’s most famous war-time quotes. But the sentiment and gratitude Churchill expressed back in 1940 is very much alive today. The sacrifice made by ´´The Few”, the British and Allied fighter pilots who won the Battle of Britain in 1940, remains close to the hearts of the British public, and the piece by the BBC is typical of the national sentiment manifested in air shows, museums, TV programs, and books. Even as the last of ´´The Few” pass on, it seems unlikely that the legend they helped to create will be forgotten anytime soon. 1. Language: English. Narrator: Colin Fluxman. Audio sample: http://samples.audible.de/bk/acx0/113343/bk_acx0_113343_sample.mp3. Digital audiobook in aax.
Few perspectives epitomize the sheer drama and sacrifice of combat more perfectly than those of the fighter pilots of World War II. As romanticized as any soldier in history, the World War II fighter pilot was viewed as larger than life: a dashing soul waging war amongst the clouds. In the 65-plus years since the Allied victory, stories of these pilots´ heroics have never been in short supply. But what about their adversaries - the highly skilled German aviators who pushed the Allies to the very brink of defeat? Of all of the Luftwaffe´s fighter aces, the stories of Walter Krupinski, Adolf Galland, Eduard Neumann, and Wolfgang Falck shine particularly bright. In The German Aces Speak, for the first time in any book, these four prominent and influential Luftwaffe fighter pilots reminisce candidly about their service in World War II. Personally interviewed by author and military historian Colin Heaton, they bring the past to life as they tell their stories about the war, their battles, their lives, and, perhaps most importantly, how they felt about serving under the Nazi leadership of Hermann Göring and Adolf Hitler. 1. Language: English. Narrator: P.J. Ochlan. Audio sample: http://samples.audible.de/bk/tant/008625/bk_tant_008625_sample.mp3. Digital audiobook in aax.
From July to September 1940, the British people watched the Battle of Britain play out in the skies above them, aware that the eventual outcome would decide their fate. From September through to the following May, Hitler attempted to ´´blitz´´ London and other major cities into submission. For a year, the citizens of Britain were effectively front-line soldiers in a battle that united the country against a hated enemy. Despite the terror, destruction, and heavy casualties, the British people survived the onslaught, until May 1941, when Hitler re-directed his attention, and that of the Luftwaffe, to the campaign in Russia. 1. Language: English. Narrator: Simon MacCorkindale. Audio sample: http://samples.audible.de/bk/rhuk/000166/bk_rhuk_000166_sample.mp3. Digital audiobook in aax.
As Hitler proceeded with his invasion plans, code-named Operation Sealion, he knew that the RAF must not be allowed to threaten the invading forces as they crossed the Channel. It was clear that they would have to be brought to battle and defeated. Still hopeful of a settlement, Hitler believed that a sustained aerial attack, coupled with a U-Boat blockade, might bring Britain to the negotiating table. The Luftwaffe´s specific aim was to win superiority by luring Fighter Command into the air and wiping it out. But Fighter Command, with its pilots, aircraft, and carefully considered systems of control, was waiting. 1. Language: English. Narrator: Simon MacCorkindale. Audio sample: http://samples.audible.de/bk/rhuk/000165/bk_rhuk_000165_sample.mp3. Digital audiobook in aax.
´´The passive resistance to war, in which we have acquitted ourselves so well, must come to an end.” (Prime Minister Winston Churchill) Europe’s attempts to appease Adolf Hitler, most notably at Munich in 1938, failed, as Nazi Germany swallowed up Austria and Czechoslovakia by 1939. Italy was on the march as well, invading Albania in April of 1939. The straw that broke the camel´s back, however, was Germany´s invasion of Poland on September 1 of that year. Two days later, France and Great Britain declared war on Germany, and World War II had begun in earnest. Of course, as most people now know, the invasion of Poland was merely the preface to the Nazi blitzkrieg of most of Western Europe, which would include Denmark, Belgium, and France by the summer of 1940. The resistance put up by these countries is often portrayed as weak, and the narrative is that the British stood alone in 1940 against the Nazi onslaught, defending the British Isles during the Battle of Britain and preventing a potential German invasion. At the beginning of 1941, it was unclear whether the Allies would be able to remain in the war for much longer. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill had already immortalized the men of the Royal Air Force with one of the West’s most famous war-time quotes, but the potential of a German invasion of Britain still loomed. With the comfort of hindsight, historians now suggest that the picture was actually more complex than that, but the Battle of Britain, fought throughout the summer and early autumn of 1940, was unquestionably epic in scope. The largest air campaign in history at the time, the vaunted Nazi Luftwaffe sought to smash the Royal Air Force, but thankfully, the RAF stood toe to toe with the Luftwaffe and ensured Hitler’s planned invasion was permanently put on hold. The Allied victory in the Battle of Britain inflicted a psychological and physical defeat on the Luftwaffe and Nazi regime at large, and as the l 1. Language: English. Narrator: Mark Norman. Audio sample: http://samples.audible.de/bk/acx0/110686/bk_acx0_110686_sample.mp3. Digital audiobook in aax.