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How the RAF and USAAF Beat the Luftwaffe (Hardback)

WWII Aviation Greenhill Books Greenhill: WWII Greenhill: Aviation Aviation in WWII Hitler & the Third Reich Luftwaffe Royal Air Force

By Ken Delve
Greenhill Books
Pages: 224
Illustrations: 16 pages of b/w illustrations
ISBN: 9781784383824
Published: 24th March 2021


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"The Luftwaffe had to be used in a decisive way in the Battle of Britain as a means of conducting total air war. Its size, technical equipment and the means at its disposal precluded the Luftwaffe from fulfilling this mission." Adolf Galland

How did the RAF beat the Luftwaffe during the Second World War? Was it actually the fact that they did not lose which later enabled them to claim victory – a victory that would have been impossible without the participation of the Americans from early 1943?

This groundbreaking study looks at the main campaigns in which the RAF – and later the Allies – faced the Luftwaffe. Critically acclaimed writer Ken Delve argues that by the latter part of 1942 the Luftwaffe was no longer a decisive strategic or even tactical weapon.

The Luftwaffe was remarkably resilient, but it was on a continual slide to ultimate destruction. Its demise is deconstructed according to defective strategic planning from the inception of the Luftwaffe; its failure to provide decisive results over Britain in 1940 and over the Mediterranean and Desert in 1941–1942; and its failure to defend the Reich and the occupied countries against the RAF and, later, combined Allied bomber offensive.

Delve studies numerous aspects to these failures, from equipment (aircraft and weapons) to tactics, leadership (political and military), logistics, morale and others.

Aside from the subject matter expertise that is writ large in this book, the text is peppered with the recollections of those who participated in air battles over Europe. Some like those of Adolf Galland are embellished by a degree of hindsight, whilst other contemporary quotes provide a more visceral understanding of the impact of decisions made at the time. The black and white photographs which accompany the text are carefully chosen and very nicely presented. In summary, this well-written and authorative book provides a comprehensive understanding of why the Luftwaffe failed. Clearly, the bravery of those who flew for all three air forces stands centre-stage but the right outcome wasn't achieved by the men and women of the RAF and USAAF alone - it was the strategy, the tactics, the leadership, the aircraft and the technology that were decisive and this book offers a comprehensive analysis of what a war winning formula looked like in the context of air-power.

Read the full review here

Phil Curme

This book looks into the reasons why the RAF & the USAAF beat the Luftwaffe from various means such as aircraft and weapons, organisational leadership, logistics, morale and tactics. The book looks at official materials alongside commentary from those involved and their opinions or thoughts. In a way an argument can be made very easily as to why the Luftwaffe was beaten. From the British use of a radar system, technically having better aircraft at the right time when they were needed, the sheer grittiness of the British spirit and of course when the US joined the war, the sheer weight of numbers would win out. I enjoyed this book as the arguments are put forward well and in a balanced.

Read the full review here

UK Historian

The book examines both sides of the conflict from many different angles. The details of what worked and what didn't on both sides are discussed. Included in this analysis are the political obstacles both sides encountered.

I enjoyed the 9+ hours I spent reading this 312-page WWII history. I have read a few books on the European air war in WWII. This one did not reveal any earth-shattering new facts. It was a good overview and analysis of the air war. I like the chosen cover art. I give this book a 4 out of 5.

NetGalley, John Purvis

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, it gave a great overview of the air war of world war two. Alongside the statistics were veteran comments giving a nice human touch.
It was fascinating how the war unfolded and how each side strived to improve their air forces and to also counter each others improvements. Once the USAAF joined the war, the GAF was simply overwhelmed and combined with over-politicising by the Nazis led to their downfall.
I recommend this book to all avid military historians.

NetGalley, Kevin Stabler

About Ken Delve

Ken Delve served 20 years in the Royal Air Force as a Navigator and during that time developed his passion for aviation and military history. From researching and publishing the history of his first squadron – 39 Squadron, which had played a major role in defeating Rommel’s supply lines – he has subsequently written over 40 books and numerous articles. His most recent work is a 3-volume set covering the Desert War, Malta’s offensive role, and the campaign in Italy.

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