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Stalingrad - The Air Battle: 1942 through January 1943 Hardcover – 30 Aug 2007


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Midland Publishing; 1st Edition edition (30 Aug. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1857802764
  • ISBN-13: 978-1857802764
  • Product Dimensions: 23.2 x 1.6 x 31.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 455,970 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Synopsis

This book centres around the huge air battles which took place over Stalingrad between August and November 1942 and the subsequent airlift operation in the winter of 1942/43 intended to relieve the German Sixth Army which was by then trapped in Stalingrad. It also covers the air war during the Russian counter-offensive in early 1943 where the Luftwaffe played a major role in saving the whole German Eastern Front from collapsing. The book contains much eye-witness material and the text is accompanied by a large number of rare and previously unpublished photographs, biographical inserts on some of the leading figures in the struggle, data tables, technical assessments and appendices.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Howard Mitchell on 10 Feb. 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is the second of four volumes covering the air war on the Russian front. This volume focuses on the German offensive in the southern part of the front in 1942, which culminated in the Battle of Stalingrad.

Bergstrom's narrative begins with a description of the air bridges the Germans used to supply isolated units in the winter of 1941-42. These successful operations showed the Germans that it was possible to supply large numbers of troops from the air, success which led them to try the same tactic the following winter. This is followed by a discussion of the state of both air forces, the German Luftwaffe and the Russian VVS, at the start of 1942.

To launch the drive into the Caucasus the Germans needed to first secure their right flank and Bergstrom devotes five chapters to the (comparatively) limited offensives with which they did this. The air battles over the Crimean at Sevastopol and Kerch are covered in detail, as is the failed soviet counter-attack at Izyum. In all these battles Bergstrom explains how the Luftwaffe maintained its superiority over the VVS. In fact it may even have increased it, as soviet pilot quality plummeted due to reduced training hours and the best soviet aircraft were reserved for the Moscow region.

The drive on Stalingrad and into the Caucasus is covered by five chapters. Bergstrom describes how the Luftwaffe initially massed its forces to achieve an overwhelming superiority before having to split them to cover multiple directions of advance.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Falk on 1 Nov. 2009
Format: Hardcover
I was actually slightly disappointed with this book.

While it is a beautiful work giving a fair overview of the battle, it is not the definite book on the subject.

It does contain many nice photos, and provides a balanced account. This is its main strength but also one of its weaknesses. It sometimes feels as if the desire to provide an unbiased story by including tales from both sides has been too meticulously adhered to (this applies to all of the books in this series, actually).

The book can be a little confusing regarding losses . Sometimes claims are checked against reported losses, sometimes they are just accepted at face value. Often included in total losses are the aircraft that were badly damaged or those that were scrapped after returning to base, and while there might be some justification in using this yardstick, few other authors do so.

The author also compares the Demyansk airlift to the one carried out at Stalingrad. He then draws the conclusion that the main reason it failed at the latter city, was the resurgence of the VVS (Soviet Air Force) and the Russian flak.

While not neglecting the role the VVS had in the eventual outcome, it is just too simple to give them the main credit. The Demyansk airlift was conducted in late winter/ early spring thus the weather was better, the encircled force was only a fraction of the one at Stalingrad, the flight distance was way shorter and the airlift was flown out of much better bases and near proper railheads. In addition, it is claimed that the Luftwaffe was much better prepared to operate in winter conditions than the previous season. Even if they had gathered much experience, many of the crews failed to utilize proper winter procedures.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Robert Brockmeier on 12 Aug. 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book is a good narrative of the air conflict over Stalingrad. I liked the appendixes at the end . His other series that he is publishing in conjunction with a Russian author is somewhat disjointed and needed someone to eenhance the chapters.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 6 reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
First-Rate Account of Eastern Front Air Ops! 25 July 2008
By Michael OConnor - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Christer Bergstrom's previous air war titles such as BLACK CROSS - RED STAR have been notable for their impeccable research, illustrative material, balanced treatment and sometimes awkwardly worded texts. Happily, Bergstrom's STALINGRAD volume, published in 2007 by Midland Publishing, displays all those aforementioned strengths with nary a convoluted participle in sight!

Drawing upon a wealth of German and Russian archival material and personal accounts, Bergstrom chronicles the momentous developments on the Eastern Front from early 1942 to January 1943, events that resulted in the destruction of the 6th Army at Stalingrad. Luftwaffe and Red Air Force units were key players in the sometimes titanic land battles waged during this time. Equipped with superior aircraft flown by combat-experienced crews using proven tactics, German fighter, bomber, ground-attack and recce units overwhelmed the opposition, lending valuable support to the Panzers while decimating their poorly-trained and -led VVS contemporaries operating a smorgasbord of biplane and monoplane designs. While Russian units were being re-equipped with more potent aircraft such as IL-2s, Pe-2s, Yak-1s, LaGG-3s, etc., they often lacked time to develop effective tactics before thrown into battle. Yet despite wholesale slaughter of VVS units, Germany, as Bergstorm relates in the book, couldn't hope to win the war of attrition Stalin was willing to wage. In time Luftwaffe bombers and fighters, their numbers dwindling, became fire-brigades, switched back and forth across fronts to provide needed - if temporary - strength to a threatened location or air support for a new offensive. Germany's transports were likewise called upon for tasks - such as the aerial resupply of Stalingrad - beyond their capabilities. In the end, quantity conquered quality.

STALINGRAD is first-class history. It interweaves strategic concerns with tactical developments and adds individual combat details to provide the reader with a compelling 'big picture/little picture' narrative. The wealth of documentation Bergstrom utilized is truly impressive. Axis and Russian air combat claims, for example, are compared whenever possible to give an accurate account of the air war. What is so surprising, given all the documentation Bergstrom presents in the book, is that STALINGRAD is such an engaging read.

Bergstrom packs a great deal of history into the book's 134 pages of text. Although the primary thrust of the book is the role Axis and Russian fighters, bombers, ground-attack, transport and recce units played in the fighting, Bergstrom includes separate sections on notable Luftwaffe and VVS commanders, the restructuring of the Red Air Force, comparisons between the Stalingrad and Demyansk airlifts, the effect of Lend-Lease aircraft on Soviet air ops, 'Night Witches,' etc.

Over 100 black and white photographs compliment the text along with a two-page painting diagramming the Stalingrad airlift operation, five color maps and various tables summarizing order of battle, sorties flown, losses and so on.

Given the tremendous amount of information Bergstrom wields and the able manner in which he presents it, I'd give STALINGRAD six stars if that was possible. His portrait of Eastern Front air ops is fresh, authoritative, informative and compelling. After 60 years we're finally getting a true picture of the Eastern Front air war! This gets my highest recommendation.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
A Rare View Of WWII Air History 16 April 2008
By Gridley - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The story of WWII's Eastern Front conflict has been rarely told, in part because of Soviet secrecy regarding its part in the war. Since glasnost, however, information from the Russian side has been forthcoming, but little of the published scholarship involving this history relates the part aircraft played in both sides of the conflict.

Bergstrom's book partially resolves this historical gap. He pays close attention to the strategic influence of the Soviet Air Force as well as to that of the German Luftwaffe. However, the author seems more fascinated with fighter statistics than with those of bombers, once again allowing a bit of a distortion in his view of air strategy and tactics as they evolved during this conflict. Still, Bergstrom's text, along with rare pictures, moves an invaluable step forward in understanding the air aspects of this conflict.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
could have been better 1 Nov. 2009
By Falk - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was actually slightly disappointed with this book.

While it is a beautiful work giving a fair overview of the battle, it is not the definite book on the subject.

It does contain many nice photos, and provides a balanced account. This is its main strength but also one of its weaknesses. It sometimes feels as if the desire to provide an unbiased story by including tales from both sides has been too meticulously adhered to (this applies to all of the books in this series, actually).

The book can be a little confusing regarding losses . Sometimes claims are checked against reported losses, sometimes they are just accepted at face value. Often included in total losses are the aircraft that were badly damaged or those that were scrapped after returning to base, and while there might be some justification in using this yardstick, few other authors do so.

The author also compares the Demyansk airlift to the one carried out at Stalingrad. He then draws the conclusion that the main reason it failed at the latter city, was the resurgence of the VVS (Soviet Air Force) and the Russian flak.

While not neglecting the role the VVS had in the eventual outcome, it is just too simple to give them the main credit. The Demyansk airlift was conducted in late winter/ early spring thus the weather was better, the encircled force was only a fraction of the one at Stalingrad, the flight distance was way shorter and the airlift was flown out of much better bases and near proper railheads. In addition, it is claimed that the Luftwaffe was much better prepared to operate in winter conditions than the previous season. Even if they had gathered much experience, many of the crews failed to utilize proper winter procedures. (This is taken from the book Stopped at Stalingrad by Joel Hayward).

The latter book is much better for serious students of the battle, and while it is highly readable, it does not contain as many photos and firsthand accounts.

Conclusion: Buy this book for a general overview of the battle and for its pictures and accounts, but do not expect to be satisfied if you want the definite story.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Covers much more than just the Battle of Stalingrad 25 Feb. 2011
By WryGuy2 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Stalingrad: The Air Battle: 1942-January 1943" by Christer Bergstrom.

There have been many, many books written about the Battle of Stalingrad, and on the 1942 German Offensive in the Soviet Union, "Case Blue". But there are only a bare handful of books in print in English that focuses on the air portion of this critical 1942 campaign on the Eastern Front. The only other book of note published recently is author Joel Hayward's "Stopped at Stalingrad". So while this review will focus Mr Bergstrom's book, I will also compare/contrast it a bit to "Stopped at Stalingrad".

In early 1942, the Soviets had attacked and encircled German forces at Kholm and Demyansk. The book opens with describing the successful airlifts that the Germans were able to organize ... a success which would set the stage for the German resupply attempt at Stalingrad later in the year. He then covers the air battles in the Crimea, the disastrous Soviet attack at Kharkov, and the following German attacks toward the Caucasus and toward Stalingrad, the battle for and encirclement of Stalingrad, and the aftermaths, from both the Soviet and German perspectives.

This book itself is relatively slender, 144 pages cover to cover, but this is offset by the fact that it's in a relatively large 8 inch by 12 inch format, so you're actually getting a lot of information. It's chock full of excellent photographs, tables, maps, and illustrations.

Comparing and contrasting this book with "Stopped at Stalingrad", this book, "Stalingrad: The Air Battle: 1942-January 1943" covers both the German and Soviet efforts ("Stopped at Stalingrad focuses more on the Germans), has more technical details, analysis of the opposing forces, orders of battle, and copious anecdotes from both sides. Mr Bergstrom also provides more insight and analysis as to why the forces performed as they did, and often (though not always) cross-checks aircraft claims versus losses for both sides during the battle, something I liked. One of the interesting things that Mr Bergstrom points out was that a relative handful of German fighter aces (experten) shot down a large percentage of the Soviet aircraft that were lost. The steady attrition of these aces appeared to have a huge impact on the German's ability to maintain air superiority over the course of the campaign, in my opinion.

"Stopped at Stalingrad" presents an excellent analysis of the German position prior to the start of Case Blue and a more nuanced and detailed view of the German air and ground operations themselves over the course of the campaign, though at the expense of the Soviet position. A lot of the anecdotes in "Stopped in Stalingrad" are from Wolfram von Richthofen's diary, whereas those in ""Stalingrad: The Air Battle: 1942-January 1943" come from a multitude of sources. (Both books "feature" von Richthofen to a large degree, as he had a huge impact on the air war.) But neither book is deficient relative to the other ... they just have differing points of view.

I highly recommend this book. It provides good information and analysis on the air forces of both sides during a critical campaign on the Eastern Front. If you're trying to decide whether to get this book or "Stopped at Stalingrad", I'd get them both, as the two books are somewhat complementary, in my opinion, and when read together, provide a comprehensive view of the role of that the German and Soviet Air Forces played in outcome of the battles.
A True "Experte" 6 Oct. 2011
By Gian Piero Milanetti - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Christer Bergstrom is one of the few true Experten of the Luftwaffe on the Eastern Front (and not only there). His expertise is deep, covers with an angle of 360° the subject, ranging from aviation to troops. As an author myself about the Soviet "Night Witches" I can assure that this book contents very valuable informations, never published photographs, pictures and datas that I was not able to find, even in the Bundes Archives and on the many sources that I have checked, in Englihs or in Russian. For instance, he produces very interesting datas about the Baptisme of Fire of Lydia Litvyak, the most famous fighter female pilot of history. But there is much more in this elegant and graphically outstanding book. The main subject is of course the Air Battle on Stalingrad and I have not found a more interesting and beautiful books about that, not saying of course about his volume "Black Cross Red Star - Everything for Stalingrad", that is even more amazing and very well researched!
Highly recomended! Bergstrom books are among the very few aviation books that do not loose their value with the years, on the contrary: they become coveted and expensive! The first volume of "Black Cross Red Star" is now sold - used - at ten times its original price!
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