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VINE VOICEon 15 May 2007
Don Caldwell is well known for his excellent JG 26 unit history and if you enjoyed that I should think this would be an automatic purchase...
However an overview of the air battles that raged over Germany during the strategic bombing offensive in only 320 pages was always going to be a hard task- as it is this book only covers the day battles - no mention at all of the RAF's campaign. The book is relatively large format, 320 pages, and the narrative scope attempts to cover a wide range of themes while relating the main events chronologically. The material is well organised with any number of different themes cropping up throughout. Chapters 1 & 2 cover the period 1914-1941, while other chapters deal with the 'Oil campaign', 'The big 'blow' that never fell' and 'The final desperate expedients'. The text is detailed, very readable and well written, with most 'big' dates (7 July 44, 27 Sept, 2 November, 14 January 45, 24 March 45) given reasonable treatment within the space allowed - however the style of treatment probably makes it a little difficult to pick out certain themes that might be of interest, eg the bomber destroyer activities of the Bf 110G-2 and Me 410 ZG Gruppen, or the Sturmgruppen. That said there is an index..

Photographic content is OK, but you wouldn't buy this for the pictures.. There are of course a number of portraits of JG 26 personalities (perhaps too many portraits, but I guess they were easier to lay out) .. Otherwise the text has a good number of pilot accounts - although some of these are severely curtailed no doubt for reasons of space, eg Ernst Schroeder's long account from 17 December 1944, which in the JG 300 history published by Eagle Editions runs to over five pages of text and is much more thrilling than the truncated version presented here... Elsewhere Caldwell's map and diagrams are good as is the lengthy discussion of fighter command and control techniques and organisation, fighter doctrine, morale and motivation and the summing up. A little irritatingly perhaps the authors use their own term 'RLV' throughout - standing for Reichsluftverteidigung or Reichs Air Defence - but I've never seen that abbreviation in any German language text...but probably a useful shorthand I guess..

One criticism - the authors have used some old and unreliable sources such as Jung, Hennig & Bethke & Dahl when dealing with JG 300 the leading Reich's Defence Geschwader..In fact there is no sense of JG 300 as the leading German air defence unit of 1944/45 - III./JG 300 had specifically been charged with the defence of Berlin - possibly because the authors have done little original research on the subject. Bretschneider downed by flak on 24 December 44 ? .. from Hennig & Bethke's fanciful account ..the Kommandeur of the 'newly-formed' IV./JG 300 lost on 17 December..? ...Maj. Heino Offterdinger survived the war - pictures of his 'Green 45' taken in March 1945 feature in the JG 300 book. Elsewhere the account of Walfeld's II./JG 300 ramming on 11 September is taken from Walther Dahl's largely discredited memoirs - unfortunately Wahlfeld (spelling) was a Sturmstaffel pilot and this incident occured in January 1944 and featured on the cover of an edition of the Berlin Illustrierte Zeitung. Similarly the G-6 photo taken from Jung on P234 is not 'Yellow 2' in the fall of 1944 but 'Red 12' in the summer of 43 at Hangelar.. in the author's defence it has to be said that he has minimised coverage of JG 300 so that it is only a small part of the work ..
That said, this is probably the best we could have hoped for between one set of recommended without hesitation...
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Caldwell and Muller have produced a definitive reference on the air defence of Germany.

This book is a clever mixture of technical information with personal accounts and it works well. At times you are not aware you are reading a highly geared delivery of factual data, so well is the narrative constructed. The personalities of the Luftwaffe junior officers and their daily command dilemmas are brought into range and it is easy to see them as talented, brave and resourceful young men defending their country: Were not the RAF chaps the same? The book divides the defence into chronological phases through the high point of German performance in 1943 through to the hopeless position of 1945. The research clearly shows that the Me 262, the German jet fighter, whilst impressive at top speed was not quite the wonder weapon it is often suggested to have been. Vulnerable when slowing to attack bombers or at take off and landing, the allied tactics deported fighters to pick off the Me 262's on their airfields. The Germans upped the stakes by equipping the 262 with rockets as air-to-air missiles, yet eventually numbers told.

One has to wonder what might have happened if the unbalanced German dictatorship had invested rather more and sooner in the Me 262 (and airporwer in general) instead of the Tiger tank? This book does not give the answer but what it does show is that the Me 262, like the Tiger, was beaten by numbers, and by the sheer volume of Allied war production that eventually made the odds even against German technological excellence.

The range of information encompasses logistics, the production of aviation fuel, the training of pilots and all related matters to give a balanced view of the Luftwaffe's defence of Germany. The notes are very detailed, the bibliography comprehensive and the index detailed and ideal for referencing.

A valuable resource book.

Michael McCarthy

Editor, "The Battle Guide"

Guild of Battlefield Guides.
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on 25 November 2014
A very well researched book in its detailing of the Luftwaffe's battle wiTh the USAAF. Changing German tactics very interesting.
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on 24 November 2007
This book is a `must have' for anyone who claims to be an expert on WWII aviation in general, and the US strategic bomber offensive against Germany in particular. The authors have unearthed a gold mine of new information on the workings, the trials and the tribulations of Reich Air Defence day fighter operations. Much of it was new to this reviewer, including the day by day accounts of operations of the force, the losses it suffered and the victories it claimed. It describes in grim detail the German side of the almost daily air battles of attrition.

This book ranks alongside the late Roger Freeman's `Mighty Eighth War Diary' in terms of historical importance. Quibbles? My main one concerns the title, which implies that the book also covers the actions against the RAF's night raids. It does not. However, in my view, the quality and quantity of the relevant new information on the daylight actions means that it still justifies a five-star rating.
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on 5 December 2015
This book is excellent but I wasnt happy that I had to refix two of the pages with Copydex. Also my previous book, Dayfighters in Defence of the Reich was brilliant (by the same publisher) and I had to obtain another copy as the whole hard cover became detached from the pages. I have many aircraft books and have never experienced this before
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on 28 April 2015
Once again a great two volume set, recommended to all Luftwaffe enthusiasts.
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on 28 July 2015
Superb, I was expecting a rehash of Mr Caldwell's many other volumes on this subject but was very pleasantly surprised to find it is not so and contains many images new to me and makes an interest read. well worth adding to my bookshelf.
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