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Hitler's Air Bridges

...from Air World, an imprint of Pen & Sword

Title: Hitler's Air Bridges
Author: Dmitry Degtev and Dmitry Zubov
Publisher: Air World
ISBN: 978-1-39901-562-2

'The Luftwaffe's Supply Operations of the Second World War' from Air World, an imprint of Pen & Sword. A 265-page hard-cover book, including one section of archive photos and some maps to support the text.
The subject is spread across 11 chapters and gives some incredible detail of the various stories. From a successful air bridge to the area of Demyansk there is much more on the unsuccessful attempt to supply the 6th Army in Stalingrad. There was a brief interlude in North Africa but events return to the perils of the Eastern Front. There are later air bridges to both Budapest in Hungary and Breslau in Germany itself. While there are some gaps in the records, there is a lot of detail with not only individual aircraft and their involvement, but even listing the pilots/crews involved. Throughout the book the Junkers Ju52 features a lot, but the He 111 was also used in large numbers to supplement the transport units. Their load capacity was limited but they fulfilled a vital role, although of course it prevented carrying out their primary role of bombing enemy targets. Some other, larger aircraft were also used, though not in such significant numbers. The huge Me323 Gigant was used and does have a chapter to itself but they still proved vulnerable to enemy fighters. Even gliders were used in some cases, but of course these were often just one way trips. The records also tell us about Soviet air units that got involved, or in some cases, not. Even AA artillery was not always available, especially in the earlier period. The other important factor was the weather, and accidents frequently feature in the records. As the was moved on, so the losses of transport aircraft and their experienced crews could simply not be replaced, putting yet more pressures on Luftwaffe resources.
With access to archives in Russia, the authors have been able to give an amazing level of detail to this book, and provide a detailed account of these attempts to establish air bridges to surrounded groups of German troops, and their allies, trying to bolster the misguided/insane insistence by Hitler that their troops should not retreat. As a result they lost thousands of valuable troops, and their equipment, and all for no good reason. While some may know elements of these stories I am sure that the level of detail contained in this one will come as a surprise to most who read it.
Thanks to Pen & Sword for the review copy.


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