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Bagration to Berlin: The Final Air Battles in the East 1944-1945 [Hardcover]

Christer Bergstrom
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

17 July 2008
The final title in an outstanding series of four books which cover the crucial role played by the Luftwaffe in the air war over the Eastern Front during World War 2.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Ian Allan; 1st Edition edition (17 July 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1903223911
  • ISBN-13: 978-1903223918
  • Product Dimensions: 30.5 x 22.9 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 438,274 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
This is the fourth and final volume in a series covering the air war between Germany and the Soviet Union and the one which covers the largest scope - the whole Eastern front from near the middle of the war to its end. Given the huge scale of the volume the focus is on the strategic level rather than the operational, but the book uses numerous tactical anecdotes to illustrate the flow of the air campaign.

The air war on the eastern front was almost always conducted to support armies on the ground and Bergstrom describes the ground war to show how air power supported it (though the limited 'strategic' bombing campaign briefly conducted by the Luftwaffe in 1944 is discussed).

The first five chapters of the book cover the history of the German Army Group Centre from the invasion of 1941 to the summer of 1944 and also outline the fate of its two flanking Army Groups, which by 1944 had suffered a series of defeats. The near collapse of the German forces in the south following the battle of Kursk left Army Group Centre exposed along a lengthy front line. Bergstrom uses this introduction to describe how the German Luftwaffe and Soviet VVS (Air Force) changed over this period. After its initial crushing defeats the VVS had recovered and by the start of 1944 had reached a maturity from which it would soon be able to overwhelm the Luftwaffe. Bergstrom is particularly good at contrasting the two air forces to show how each developed up to this point, and as in previous volumes he uses records from both German and Soviet sides to produce a balanced account of the air war.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth adding to your collection 12 April 2010
Format:Hardcover
First of all I would say that this volume is well worth adding to any WW11 air combat collection - especially if you've got the previous 3 volumes, as this 4th and final book takes you to war's end. Its not quite as complete as the previous 3 volumes as the above reviewer says; lacking detailed maps of airfields and a conclusion. But this does not detract too much. Once again there are some excellent photos; most of which I've not seen before.

Once the book get's going past the reminder of what happened in previous volumes it becomes interesting. Bergstrom outlines ground operations and the air battles that followed Kursk closely, and he has gone into loss records too which gives you a clearer view of the results of particular combats (and the chronic Soviet overclaiming).

Excellent new Soviet fighters enter the arena, but the Luftwaffe can still achieve local air supremacy, but pretty soon it's obvious that the writing is very much on the wall, and only a delusional Hitler seems to believe the war can still be won!

The final battles around Berlin are very exciting and see some bizarre aircraft combinations taking to the air - including the Mistel; a German "piggyback" secret weapon aimed at the Oder bridges. Add to this the superb La-7 and Yak 3's, which the Luftwaffe counters with Fw-190D9's and even some of the new Ta-152's. But now the Russians have quality as well as quantity and the Luftwaffe is very much Goering's broken toy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Sussman TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I was so impressed with the previous editions that this was a must buy for me. This work is an extremely competent understanding of the air in its last year, or so, of the war on the Eastern Front. I am sure that due the length and breadth of the air work we will not be getting the `whole history' here. To quote Howard Mitchel's review, this edition is more to do with strategic events rather than the full operational machinations of both air forces. You still get the anecdotes that really brought the other books to `life' me. You get some excellent photographic evidence - which are completely new to me and which I have not seen in other histories which relate to the same subject matter. The maps are done well and are welcome addition to support the narratives as it `play through'. At the end the book there is very good appendix. For me another very good edition that is worthy of a good four stars.
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Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Author digs into records from both sides of aerial warfare on the Eastern Front. Follows same format as previous 3 books
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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another superb Offering 10 Sep 2008
By Iva Buch - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Not being a great collector of aviation books I stumbled upon Christer Bergstrom"s book Kursk The Air battle, which after reading I had to buy his next offering on the final era of the Second World War on the Eastern front, namely Bagration to Berlin.
In this his final offering on the brutal campaign on the eastern front the authour has once again penned a very interesting and well researched book.
As per his previous offerings on the air battles the book takes sources from both the Russian and German side to give a balanced view.
It again has a comprehensive loss chart but interestingly only for the Russian side as most records for the Luftwaffe at this late stage of the war were destroyed.
There are some rare and unique photos of Russian aircraft flying over Berlin and landing at captured german airfields in Berlin while the fighting was still going on nearby.
One thing that appeared to be different in the campaign in the east was that the Luftwaffe was able to send up planes to assist their ground troops on a number of occasions resulting in furious air battles.
Indeed the Russians faced the largest number of "experten"(aces)on the Eastern front compared to the allies, and it was these men and their few machines that kept the growing number of Russian pilots equipped with superior aircraft at bay for so long.
As the Luftwaffe began to grind to a halt through a lack of pilots, aircraft and fuel, the Russians with the dreaded ground attack Il 2 ably suppourted by large numbers of fighter escorts wreaked havoc on the German ground forces.The Russians equipped now with the much superior La 7 and Yak 9 began to shoot down large numbers of German aircraft in a complete reversal of the air campaign in 1941 - 42.
There is anice little piece on the use of the Mistel, a Ju 88 packed with explosives and piggy backed by a Focke Wulf 190.It was this type of aircraft that was used to attack the Kustrin bridges over the Oder in April 1945.
As usual from this authour there are a large number of photographs of the aircraft and personalities involved in the battles
The book is full of combat accounts, and covers all areas of the war from Kurland, to the collapse of Army Group centre in operation Bagration, Poland and the Oder crossings to the final battles over Berlin.
Printed on fine glossy paper for excellent photo reproduction, you will find a wealth of information that is not readily accessible in other books which tend to concentrate on the land battles.
Well worth reading and highly recommended
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars far superior to Black Cross/Red Star 19 Mar 2009
By N. Page - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
A must-buy if interested in the air war over the Russian Front. Authored by Bergstrom, proofed and corrected by a native English speaker (unlike the Black Star/Red Cross volumes) this is a highly readable account of the last year of the air war on the Eastern Front. If you're waiting for the next volume of BC/RS from Eagle Editions then you will have a very long wait. This is a much more than adequate substitute..
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Roles reverse as Luftwaffe declines & the Soviet air force is on the rise 22 May 2013
By Sussman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I was so impressed with the previous editions that this was a must buy for me. This work is an extremely competent understanding of the air in its last year, or so, of the war on the Eastern Front. I am sure that due the length and breadth of the air work we will not be getting the `whole history' here. To quote Howard Mitchel's review, this edition is more to do with strategic events rather than the full operational machinations of both air forces. You still get the anecdotes that really brought the other books to `life' me. You get some excellent photographic evidence - which are completely new to me and which I have not seen in other histories which relate to the same subject matter. The maps are done well and are welcome addition to support the narratives as it `play through'. At the end the book there is very good appendix. For me another very good edition that is worthy of a good four stars.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A War of Statistics 2 Oct 2013
By Sepp Dietrich - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
It is important for anyone interested in the air war over the Eastern Front to read this book, even though it is highly biased in favor of the Russian cause. It is even more important to read both the German and the Russian version of events. Since I can read German, I have many volumes of fighter and bomber units published in Germany. Mr. Bergström lists some of these sources in his bibliography and hence cannot claim ignorance to some of the statements he makes. One thing which disgusts me is his sympathy for Russian soldiers committing atrocities against German civilians, claiming this was caused by the Germans committing atrocities in Soviet towns and villages and in the concentration camps which the Russians uncovered in 1944. What is the author's excuse for the Russians committing war crimes earlier in Finland (1939/40), the Baltic states (1940 on), against German soldiers and airmen as early as 22 June 1941? What is his excuse for the Russians taking few, if any, POws before Stalingrad? Why did only about 6000 Germans return home after over 90,000 had been captured in Stalingrad? Why did the Russians kill wounded German soldiers throughout the campaign?

Bergström gives the Russians the benefit of the doubt but not to the Germans. Several times he cites total German aircraft losses to include those which were only damaged and losses not incurred in combat. He cites only Russian combat losses of aircraft. In one example, he states that Lt. Walter Wolfrum, I./JG 52, was shot down, whereas in fact he was wounded but safely landed his Bf 109G-6. He gives credit to the Russian pilot for his claim. In other cases he cites various Jagdgeschwader and lists total losses, but he includes losses to all causes. I have examined these statistics in the many volumes of Jochen Prien. There is no problem with listing such losses but one should do this with the Russian side also to get a better view of the losses of both sides. One example is the case of III./JG11 where the author states that on 29 June 1944 the unit had 12 Fw 190s "put out of commission." In actuality, only one fighter was destroyed in air combat with the pilot killed, another was destroyed on the ground, and ten were damaged, of which three were due to mechanical failures. Another example is where he lists Oscar Romm, C.O. of IV/JG 3, as having been shot down and wounded. In actual fact, I read Romm's account where Romm states that his radiator of his Fw 190D-9 overheated before he made contact with the enemy, resulting in an engine fire and he had to crash-land, resulting in his injuries. Bergström also states that the previous C.O. of this same unit, Koall, was probably shot down by Russian fighters even though the German records indicate that Koall was shot down by AA during a low level attack. One last case is Walter Brandt of I./JG 3 who was shot down according to Bergström but his aircraft was only damaged 20%.

Bergström tries to minimize Soviet aircraft losses. In his appendix he states that the Soviets lost 37,165 aircraft in combat. Yet, when I consulted General G.F. Krivosheev's "Soviet Casualties and Combat Losses in the Twentieth Century," the figure therein was 43,100 aircraft lost in combat. Why the difference? Who is accurate? Krivosheev also states that a total of 88,300 Soviet aircraft were lost to all causes! It would be interesting to see a list of all 88,300 aircraft with the cause of the loss, pilot/crew casualties, date, unit and place. This might go a long way to explain so-called German overclaiming compared to Soviet losses. Many years ago I had read that the Soviets did not classify as a combat loss any aircraft which was damaged and written-off. The Germans did.

The author makes no mention of the part played by the RAF and USAAF in the destruction of the Luftwaffe's Jagdwaffe which sustained such heavy losses, especially at the Normandy front, that the German fighter Gruppen had to give up in June at least 12 pilots which basically reduced their strength in half. He does occasionally state that the claims of the Soviet Air Force were nine or ten times the actual Luftwaffe losses but he never challenges the claims of individual Soviet pilots.

One last comment. Many years ago, my uncle, an infantryman in the 225th Infantry Division during the war, told me that while his Army Group was bottled up in the Courland pocket in 1945, he saw two Fw 190s attack a group of Il-2s and he saw eight crash into the ground. Two excellent pilots!
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent Account of Eastern Front Air Battles! 22 Feb 2010
By Michael OConnor - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Only long-time Russian Air Force enthusiasts can appreciate what superlative histories Christer Bergstrom has authored over the years. Russian histories of Eastern Front air ops produced in the 1960s/70s/80s were stilted, turgid prop-lit tracts filled with motherland-loving heroes inflicting catastrophic losses on the evil fascist invaders with few losses in return. The photographs found in those histories were heavily retouched, resembling nothing so much as bad xeroxes. Western histories concentrated on the Luftwaffe, the VVS often being characterized as hopelessly inept and easy targets for Experten. Bergstrom's books, by contrast, reflect impeccable research in various archives, official documents, books and other sources east and west and a balanced, comprehensive presentation of events, personalities, tactics and policies. BAGRATION TO BERLIN, published in 2008 by Ian Allan Publishing, is a prime example; military aviation history doesn't get much better than this.

Though it's subtitled THE FINAL AIR BATTLES IN THE EAST: 1944-45, the book's scope is larger by far. Bergstrom chronicles the air war from Barbarossa on, the better to understand the catastrophic defeat Army Group Centre suffered in 1944. He documents the painful learning curve VVS units suffered in the first years of the war, the constant reinvention and improvement those units underwent in terms of tactics and equipment and the major impact those units eventually had on the ground war. By 1944/45, the VVS, in terms of quantity and quality, was the 800-pound gorilla of the Eastern Front.

Bergstrom packs a great deal of information into the book's 128 pages of text. (Appendices take up another seven pages; notes/sources, five more). He does a marvelous job of presenting a wide-ranging multi-dimensional history of the air war, balancing strategic considerations with in-the-cockpit details. As you progress through BAGRATION TO BERLIN, you can easily understand why the VVS played such a dominant and successful role in the Russian march to Berlin. It's fascinating and informative history.

The book includes hundreds of well-reproduced and sometimes rare photographs of VVS and Luftwaffe aircraft and aircrew along with color maps and a color artwork depicting Mistel attacks on the Oder River bridges. Profiles of the opposing aircraft would have been nice but that's just me. Visually BAGRATION TO BERLIN is a treat!

Air combat buffs will want to add BAGRATION TO BERLIN to their collection. It's a well-researched, well-written and well-illustrated guide to the Eastern Front air war. Viewed as a whole, the four Bergstrom Ian Allan volumes are as near to a definitive history of the Eastern Front air war as I've ever seen. Highly recommended.
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