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A slim overview
on 26 August 2008
An obvious title in this interesting new series from Osprey, with its more 'graphic' style of publication, cutaways, three views etc...Opening with a chronological & a lengthy developmental overview of the two types Holmes presents an entirely conventional view of the classic aerial joust that was the Battle of Britain, but one that really deserved much more space than this - in fact there is so litle text here it is very easy to pick out where it has been borrowed from - mostly Bungay's fine 'The Most Dangerous Enemy'. While the author doesn't really commit himself on which of the two aeroplanes was the better fighter, he does argue that the Spitfire prevented the Luftwaffe from gaining aerial ascendancy, thus dashing Hitler's hopes of launching an invasion. There is of course no room in this slim volume's 80 pages for any wider discussion of the conflict - did Hitler ever have any real intention of mounting an invasion of England with his derisory collection of barges ? Hitler's aims were surely key for determining exactly how the Me 109 was deployed & indeed how it fared over England. As it was German invasion plans that were elaborated were essentially a subterfuge, a means of exerting political pressure & Goebbels states as much in his diaries. Me 109 pilots were sacrificed over England essentially in order to exert political pressure on Churchill and the British population in an attempt to 'facilitate' British acceptance of Germany's peace overtures. Does this diminish the achievements of the RAF in the 'battle' - no, not really. The Spitfires kept the upper hand while the Me 109s were shackled to the bombers which were then turned against London - in the end the margin wasn't even close. This was a defeat for the much-vaunted Luftwaffe and the Me 109 - Hitler's first of many..
To sum up, the book is meagre in size and scope and rather expensive for only 80 pages. Two of those are wasted on the Postlethwaite 'battle scene' painting - the book cannot even be opened flat to view it. The cover illustrations and other artworks are superb though..On balance just about worth adding to the library and one of the better volumes in this series