Monday, 24 February 2020

Casemate Illustrated - Luftwaffe in Africa

New from Casemate is this 'Osprey-style' monograph of 128 glossy pages with neat glossy card covers, around 200 photos and profile artworks by Vincent Dhorne. The text features newly translated first-person accounts by this blogger and covers aspects of the campaign in North Africa that are generally less-well known; KG 26 raids on the Suez Canal, KG 40 FW 200 transport missions, Go 242 glider units and the end in Tunisia with JG 77 to cite just a few examples..

From an Amazon reviewer;

 "...I thought this was an excellent book. In fact, it is the only book I have found that is devoted solely to the history of the Luftwaffe in North Africa. It covers the air combat from several levels or viewpoints: grand strategic, local operations, and individual aircraft and pilot combats. It gives the strengths and deployments of the various Geschwader and Staffeln throughout the 1941 - 1943 period. The text is accompanied by many period black and white photos and color artworks. In looking at the bibliography, it appears that the sources are almost entirely original German documents and publications with a few British books thrown in....

There are several comments or analyses that German involvement in North Africa was a mistake from the beginning. The German military was far more resource or asset limited than the US or Britain. As the book points on several occasions, a Geschwader deployed in North Africa meant one fewer such unit deployed on the Russian Front where it was most needed. Page 72 contains an interesting assessment of the whole situation: "Rommel's fatal decision was his first: to launch an all-out offensive in 1941, an offensive that would divert to Africa resources that would have achieved more and proved more effective in Russia...."

I think an even better way of putting it was that there was no one at the top assigning priorities: Hitler wanted to attack everywhere and defend everything. His rationale for sending German troops and air units to North Africa in the first place was awful: to prevent Mussolini from losing prestige if the Italians lost Libya to the British. Libya was simply of no strategic significance to Germany. Even if it was important, Germany could never devote the military resources to it that would be needed to defend it against the British and eventually the Americans.

An excellent equivalent book on the British RAF in North Africa is "The Desert Air Force in World War II: Air Power in the Western Desert 1940 - 1942" by Delve (2017)....."

Also on this blog by Jean-Louis Roba and published by Casemate " Luftwaffe in Colour "