|Day Fighters In Defence of the Reich: A War Diary, 1942-45|
|Tuesday, 29 May 2012 00:00|
(by Donald Caldwell; ISBN 978-1-84832-525-8; Pen & Sword Books, 47 Church Street, Barnsley, South Yorkshire S70 2AS; 8¼in x 10¼in hardback; 480 pages, illustrated; £35.00)
Day-by-day accounts of the Battle of Britain have been available for years, but here we have a similar presentation of the aerial defence of Hitler’s Reich during the later years of the Second World War. Described as “a unique look at the German air defences as they struggled to cope with the threat posed by the American 8th and 15th Air Forces, which were charged with destroying Germany’s critical war industries and wresting control of the air over the Reich from the Luftwaffe”, this weighty volume is the result of the author’s lengthy researches in German, British and American government archives, his studying of German pilots’ log books and interviews in his private collection.
Each of the first nine chapters overs a set period in the chronological sequence, and the final chapter offers a summary and conclusions. The book ends with a table of equivalent ranks, glossaries, sources and bibliography and an index of units, locations, targets and personnel (the only person listed under “British” is Field Marshal Montgomery).
A brief introductory section for each month is followed by accounts of the events on specific dates, accompanied by very detailed tabulated data of the defensive activities of the Luftwaffe or Axis units involved and their claims and losses, sometimes enhanced by well-drawn maps tracing the routes flown by attackers and defenders. Interspersed among the text and tables is a good collection of monochrome photographs, many of which will be less than familiar to most readers. This is a tremendous piece of work, and it is so refreshing to see a book from an American author who does not seem to think that all of the world’s aeroplane designation systems should follow the US military style.