Battle of Britain 1940: The Luftwaffe's "Eagle Attack"
Battle of Britain 1940: The Luftwaffe’s “Eagle Attack” is a new title in a new series called Air Campaign. The author is Doug Dildy, a USAF Academy graduate and former USAF Colonel. He has a Degree in history and a Master’s Degree in Political Science. The art work and illustration are superbly done by Graham Turner.
This book is a detailed account of the Luftwaffe’s Operation “Adlerangriff”. It details the Luftwaffe and RAF’s capabilities, objectives, equipment, strategies, and changes made throughout the campaign, through to its ultimate failure.
Following the introduction chapter is a chronological flow by date of the battle with summaries of directives, commands and actions.
This then flows into the next chapter explaining the Luftwaffe’s (Attacker’s) capabilities. Descriptions of the aircraft used, and other equipment such as boats to be used in Operation Sealion, the invasion and occupation of Britain. Diagrams showing formations of bombers and fighters give insight into the planning and execution of each raid across the Channel. To enlighten the reader further, a full list of all bomber and fighter Luftflotte, Jagfligerfuhrer, and their associated Gruppe’s show which type of aircraft were involved and where they were located.
On the other side of the Channel, the British capabilities are looked at in the same format as the Germans in previous chapter. Home defenses such as radar, home guard, and aircraft used are shown. In this and the previous chapters advantages and disadvantages on both sides are also brought up.
“Campaign Objectives” follows and immediately shows up the Germans main deficiencies, despite their immense might and proven prowess. However, they have clear objectives to neutralize RAF Fighter Command, destruction of RAF force’s, destruction of the Royal Navy units in port and at sea, and harassing night attacks on all the above as well as communications, aero, and aircraft factories.
“The Campaign” chapter follows the battle by date. Each section tells us which type of fighter and bomber was operated, as well as what Luftflotte and Gruppe they belonged to, base departed from, and where they were headed. Losses of aircraft shot down or damaged on both sides are detailed.
The changing dynamics of the battles and tactics, as directed by Goering and Hitler are ever present throughout the chapters of this book. From the underestimation of Fighter Command’s capability, and the lack of knowledge of the importance of Radar, to the decision to redirect bombers to attack London instead of maintaining their concentrated efforts on the RAF airfields, all lead to the inevitable demise of the battle as a whole. Had the airfield attacks continued in full force, Britain would have undoubtedly capitulated under the pressure. That is not to say the raids stopped hitting airfields and defense infrastructure altogether, but the reduced raid volume on them certainly allowed the British time to sufficiently rebuild and repair airfields to operational status. Had the airfield attacks continued the RAF would have been forced north of the Thames and out of range of the incoming bombers targeting southern England.
The Battle of Britain does not seem to have a definitive finish date, as bombing raids were continued for some time. This topic seems to be hotly debated. Hitler postponed Operation Sea Lion indefinitely and swung his focus to Russia. Britain was able to rebuild to become a formidable launching ground for the Allies to turn the tides of war and ultimately defeat the Germans on the Western Front.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this informative book, and recommend it to anyone who is interested in the Battle of Britain. My sincere thanks to Osprey and IPMS for the opportunity to review this book.