The authors do an excellent job of showing how the Allies were able to use their material superiority to best advantage and defeat the Luftwaffe. Counterintuitively, the main advantage gained by the strategic bombing program was the defeat of the Luftwaffe. It was only when the bombers started hitting important targets in Germany accompanied by escort fighters that the German fighters had to fight at unequal terms.Great description of how the air war was won.
Account of the Achievement of Air Superiority Over Germany
Published by Thriftbooks.com User , 23 years ago
If one wishes to learn about the contributions of the US ArmyAir Forces in Europe during World War II, the literature is repletewith books and articles about strategic precision daylight bombing. However, in To Command the Sky, the authors have broken from the strategic bombing mold to inform us of how air superiority was achieved, and how important that victory was to allow the Allied forces to not only carry out their strategic bombing mission, but also to prepare the battlefield for D-Day. Indeed, without air superiority over the landing areas, the D-Day invasion of the continent would have certainly been more costly, if not impossible to achieve. This excellent book recounts how the Luftwaffe was defeated through a combination of strategic bombing and, more importantly, attrition of the Luftwaffe planes and pilots. Although the book begins with a brief history of military aviation and doctrine, the highlight for this reviewer was the chapter dedicated to training, especially since the authors look at both the American and German programs. Flaws in the German training programs directly contributed to their aerial defeat in 1942 - 1944. Due to the prohibition to maintain a German air force by the Treaty of Versailles after WW I, the Luftwaffe started training its pilots in Russia and Italy during the 1920s and 1930s. By the time Hitler announced to the world the existence of the Luftwaffe in 1935, he had established a formidable force. For myriad reasons though, problems consistently nagged the Luftwaffe and ultimately led to its defeat. These included a lack of training planes, a lack of qualified instructor pilots, little instrument flying time, and shortages of aviation fuel. The authors develop these shortfalls throughout the book and keep coming back to the conclusion that inadequate training was a major factor in the Luftwaffe's demise. Two other aspects of the battle for air superiority that the authors examine are the realizations that fighter escort would be needed to defend the bombers on their strategic strikes, and attrition warfare would be needed to defeat the Luftwaffe. Despite the fact losses from attrition warfare were high, the Allied commanders were willing to accept them knowing that replacement aircraft and qualified pilots were readily available. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed reading To Command the Sky as I felt it gave a truly balanced account of how fighters and bombers were both needed to achieve air superiority and bring about the defeat of the Luftwaffe. Lastly, the authors' insight into some of the key commanders (Eaker, Doolittle, Spaatz, Arnold) thinking was especially enlightening and appreciated. It put the struggles they faced in commanding such a large force in perspective, especially with regard to the D-Day timeline under which they operated. I believe To Command the Sky is a must read for anyone wishing to study the air campaign against Germany during World War II.
ThriftBooks sells millions of used books at the lowest everyday prices. We personally assess every book's quality and offer rare, out-of-print treasures. We deliver the joy of reading in recyclable packaging with free standard shipping on US orders over $15. ThriftBooks.com. Read more. Spend less.