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Spitfire on My Tail: A View from the Other Side [Paperback]

Ulrich Steinhilper , Peter Osborne , Carol Osborne
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
Price: 12.95 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Spitfire on My Tail: A View from the Other Side + A Willingness to Die: Memories from Fighter Command
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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Independent Books; 7th Revised edition edition (1 April 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1872836798
  • ISBN-13: 978-1872836799
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 391,218 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just a young pilot 22 Sep 2010
Ulrich Steinhilper's story is that of a very young man full of illusions and joy for flying. It is the story of a generation which willingly accepted huge responsibilities at the age of 20 and paid dearly for that.

I'm not British and so I can compare from the distance the feelings of Ulrich and his colleagues with those of their British opponents. It can be regarded as heresy, but it seems they were quite the same breed. Just read the book and judge. Yes, of course, they were backing evil but they seemingly didn't know at the time. They lived under Goebbels propaganda and they were very young and very easy to manipulate. They thought Hitler's demands on Poland, Czechoslovakia, etc were fair and once they got into the inertia of uninterrupted victory they simply didn't stop to think if invading France or imposing Germany's will on Europe was a fair cause.

I guess many British readers will be astonished to read that the German pilots thought they were fighting against a brutal and pitiless enemy. Yes, it seems that the unarmed and Red Cross marked German rescue floatplanes were being downed and the survivors machine gunned by British planes. If this is true or just propaganda I don't know but it gives an idea of the way German pilots must have felt.

Anyway apart from this general idea there is much to enjoy in this book: Life in postwar Germany, training as a pilot, an air force organized from scratch in almost no time, German bluffs, struggle against stubborn senior officers, the impressive influence that the Legion Condor veterans had, daily life in the Channel, the "prima donna" or "star system" involving the top score pilots like Adolf Galland, tactics, etc. Not much on dogfights however, Ulrich downed 5 planes which he dispatched quite straightforward.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Spitfire on my tail 20 Aug 2011
By Squirt
Excellent book, most interesting to hear about the warfare in the air from the German perspective. Very well written, a good read for anyone interested in World War II and the Lutwaffe
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking 14 Nov 2010
Thus book does help fill a gap regarding the Battle of britain. The author experienced a desperate desire to fly and endured a circuitous route to finally get to the front line - which in this case was Coquelles just outside Calais. There was a desire to get at the enemy and not just be stuck in some rear area - a fact which clearly was an irritation to all the younf flyers.

Once at the front the aurthor shows from the orther side the differences between the Luftwaffe and RAF. the RAF started off the war inexpereinced with poor tactics and apparently poorer equipment. Both of these improved over time and it is noted that the RAF developed faster than the Luftwaffe in both tactics and equipment with the Spitfire finally getting the better of the Me109. The author equally recongnises that oft overlooked fact thet the Hurricane won the battle of Britain not the Spitfire! (For interest "Not much of an Engineer" by Sir Stanley Hooker gives a good account of the development of the Merlin Engine).

The author shows respect for the RAF flyers and considers them a similar kin. There is though some contradiction in that he makes a lot of the supposed shooting down of channel rescue planes and shooting up trains etc as the RAF did - but feels nothing but pride about the bombing of London and other places. he seems not to understand that the Germans were the foe here and thus all fair game - after all as he himself notes planes were available but pilots were not.

Some other intersting comments on the quality and usefulness of the equipment left behind after Dunkirk and the poor efforts as destroying it by the british. The Luftwaffe seemed proud to have this equipment and used it to move their units all over Europe.

All in all a good read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Important and rare account 12 Sep 2013
Steinhilper's account of the Luftwaffe's development before the war and up to the Battle of Britain is a rare insight into the Geman side of the story. Very few Luftwaffe pilots who flew during the Battle of Britain lived to the end of the war, so the fact that Steinhilper was shot down and captured probably saved his lived and meant we now have this unique account. He's scathing about people like Galland and makes it clear that the Luftwaffe was not the mighty machine it was presented as by German propaganda. Instead a lot of bluff covered up its organisational problems, the conservatism of people like Galland (who was utterly opposed to radios in aircraft) and the obsolescence of many of their machines. Overall a fascinating corrective which is well written and which has no real equivalent.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing story! 12 May 2014
Being interested in WW2 & in particular the luftwaffe I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's definitely a view from the other side and I thought that the details the author (s) went into made it extremely interesting. As explained at the back of the book though it becomes obvious that there is so much more to this amazing story and I've been left wanting to read more so maybe a second book could be considered in the future?
I'd recommend this book wholeheartedly to anyone with an interest in WW2 or the luftwaffe!
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