kay, so I went into supercharger and climbed out of my usual cloud of fantasy/scifi to read a history book, one about the German Air Force (and, specifically, those who flew for it) in World War Two.
First take-away – I am amazed at how high the German aces scores are. And this isn’t bombastic German inflation – these scores are largely confirmed by military historians over the years. I’m used to Richtofen’s highwater mark of 80, but here we have Hartmann with 352 (the top dog), Barkhorn with 301, Rall with 275, through 15 pages of listings (most of them greater than the Red Baron’s). Pretty damn amazing when you consider that the German’s were facing increased opposition, waves of Russian planes, streams of heavy bombers, night bombing, fighter incursions, fighting against new types, larger numbers, everything.
The author goes into the things that allowed the Germans to amass such scores, from there use of the Spanish Civil War as a test bench (from which they made a serious analysis of team fighter use) through their fighting across many fronts in target-rich environments. Interesting are the diagrams through the book which explain a number of tactical tricks, showing the formations and how they turned and supported each other. If you think air combat is throttle-forward into a turning contest, think again.
If anything, I’d rather have enjoyed reading more accounts of what the aces actually saw, their own words, rather than just explanations to how well they did and were they were posted. Every so often there would be a quote and suddenly my blood would pump as I read about what it was like, really like, to charge in against bombers head-on with escorts snapping at your tail.
But a good book, and a tricky one to find (yes, another used-book-store looting) but you might check your library. It will give you a good overall view of the German Air Force in World War Two, and a greater appreciation to the odds they faced as the world crashed down around them.