Monday, October 5, 2015

Books to buy for the battle in the sky

When you research a battle, you have to turn to the professionals, and for me, those are found 

The Battle of Britain was one of the battles that decided who would win the Second World War, and did so by forcing the cancellation of Operation Seelöwe, the German invasion of Great Britain.

Decisive battles are rare, and decisive battles fought in the air almost completely are unique or nearly so. The air force of Nazi Germany, the Luftwaffe, was tasked with taking command of the sky.  It never happened.  While the RAF of the UK fought with tenacity, and courage, they were aided by radar, decoding enemy messages via Ultra, and changing strategies by the Nazi high command.

The Battle of Britain by Kate Moore is wonderful book with images and artifacts from the Imperial War Museum.  It is a general overview of the battle, and considers both sides, the leaders, the warriors, and the people on the ground who suffered the wrath of the bombing.

Spitfire vs Bf 109 By Tony Holmes.   Spitfires were fast and agile.  When bombers and fighters flew overhead from France and the Netherlands, the Spitfire crews flew up to meet them.  When they met the German Bf 109s they were on equal terms, whereas few other Allied planes did so at this time.  Since the RAF had Hurricanes and Spitfires to meet the bombers attacking London, and wartime industries, the best tactical choice was to send the Spitfires against the Bf 109s.  The Luftwaffe pilots were aware, though, of the unequal combat if the 109s could meet the Hurricanes.  This book is able to show the equal duels in the air, above London, and Britain.

Hurricane I vs Bf 110 by Tony Holmes.   The Hurricane I fighter plane was dependable, and tough, but slow.  It was not an even match versus Bf 109, but against the Bf 110, the Hurricane possessed superiority.  This work is a great work considering the reasons for the strengths and weaknesses of both crafts, and the type of tactics needed to win in air duels.

RAF Fighters vs Luftwaffe Bombers By Andy Saunders.  In a desperate conflict between the fighter planes it is often forgotten the role of secondary planes from the RAF versus the bombers from the Luftwaffe.  While it was often thought that the Spitfires and Hurricanes were the bomber destroyers, in the earliest days the RAF sent into combat everything that could fight.  This included light bombers, light attack craft, and more.  When the Luftwaffe turned towards night raids, and solely attacking population centers, then radar equipped night fighters, and heavy fighter bombers were then facing each other, and specializing more and more. This book is quite a gem.  Sadly this is only in ebook format.  But well worth reading.

“What General Weygand has called The Battle of France is over. The battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization  Upon it depends our own British life and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of a perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour'”
                                        Prime Minister Winston Churchill  June 18, 1940

"Never in the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few." Prime Minister Winston Churchill - September 1940

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