The Luftwaffe Over Germany:

Defense of the Reich

Donald Caldwell and Richard Muller

The Luftwaffe over Germany: Defense of the Reich

Winner of the 2008 Air Force Historical Foundation Book Award

This book has just been reprinted, and is now available from Pen and Sword Books in the UK. It will soon be available from Casemate Publishing Co. in the USA.

"This book ranks alongside the late Roger Freeman's 'The Mighty Eigth War Diary' in terms of historical importance....."
- Alfred Price,

  • A riveting account of the German daylight air defence effort, 1939-1945.
  • Complete—thorough coverage of tactics, technology, weaponry, personalities, and combat operations.
  • Authoritative—based on original documents and correspondence with German and American airmen— the definitive history.

The Luftwaffe over Germany tells the story of one of the longest and most intense air battles in history. The daylight air struggles over Germany during the Second World War involved thousands of aircraft, dozens of units, and hundreds of separate aerial engagements. Until now, there has been no single book that covers the complete story, from the highest levels of air strategy and military decision-making to the individual tales of Fw 190s, Bf 109s, and Me 262s in air combat against the American bomber streams.

This work traces the development of the German air defence system from its beginnings during the First World War through its collapse in 1945. It examines the detrimental effect of Luftwaffe theory and doctrine, which emphasized the offensive use of air power, on the German air arm’s ability to defend the homeland once the Allied Combined Bomber Offensive began in earnest. The hard pressed Luftwaffe leadership attempted to cobble together an air defence network while at the same time tending to the demands of the combat fronts in Russia and the Mediterranean. They were nothing if not resourceful. Units developed specialized tactics and weapons for dealing with heavily defended bomber formations, while senior commanders sought to construct an elaborate command and control system integrating radar, observers, antiaircraft guns, and fighters into a formidable force. By mid-1944, they had lost the battle—but exacted a terrible price in the process.

The product of a ten-year collaboration between two noted Luftwaffe historians, this work filled a major gap in the literature of the Second World War. The authors examined original war diaries, logbooks, doctrine manuals, after-action reports, and interviews with many combat veterans to produce a richly detailed account. Illustrated with nearly two hundred photographs, as well as new maps and diagrams, The Luftwaffe over Germany became on its publication the standard work on the subject.

Selected Reviews:

"Correlating the experiences of the American bomber pilots with the experiences of the German fighter pilots using interviews and diary entries gives this book a voice not often heard in books about forces fighting each other who speak different languages."
           "The book fits in well with existing World war two aviation literature, especially since it is based on its unique approach of offering perspectives from both sides. Predicated on the inclusion of participant narrative accounts, a wealth of pictures from both official and private sources, and the care in offering a balanced view of the story - a military history rather than a focus on Nazi politics - this book is readable, informative, and a valuable contribution to the field". — David J. Schepp,
28th Bomb Wing Historian

“In [this book] we find two highly respected authors, both of them diligent researchers as well as excellent writers, covering in depth an important subject that has previously been approached only sparingly. Two many authors today are flogging the overdone ‘Ambrose technique’, filling pages with verbose first-person accounts that leave gaping holes in the subject matter. Caldwell and Muller’s combined expertise makes it feasible to offer a wealth of information and still have a narrative that sings, thanks to the inclusion of personal experiences. They move the reader swiftly from the World War I origins of German airpower through the rise of the Luftwaffe and finally to its utter defeat, incorporating along the way just the right number of succinct personal accounts to spice up rather than overwhelm the material…
            “Given the authors’ thought-provoking analysis and interest in re-examining the decision making process leading up to and during warfare, The Luftwaffe over Germany should be required reading for our nation’s leaders today.” — Walter J. Boyne, Aviation History

“This book is a ‘must have’ for anyone who claims to be an expert on WW II aviation in general, and the US strategic bomber offensive in particular. The authors have unearthed a gold mine of new information on the workings, the trials and tribulations of the Reich Air Defense day fighter operations. Much of it was new to this reviewer, including the day-by-day accounts of the operations of the force, the losses it suffered and the victories it claimed. It describes in grim detail the German side of the almost daily air battles of attrition. This book ranks alongside the late Roger Freeman’s Mighty Eighth War Diary in terms of historical importance…” — Alfred Price,

“The product of a 10 year-collaborative effort by noted Luftwaffe authors Donald Caldwell and Richard Muller, Luftwaffe over Germany is a well-researched, well-written, fast-paced account of Luftwaffe air defense operations. Equal parts critical analysis and popular history, the book is must reading for air enthusiasts.
         “Caldwell, who wrote the marvelous JG 26 trilogy, and Muller pack a great deal of information in the book’s 290-odd pages of text… Throughout the book Caldwell and Muller do a first-rate job of weaving together myriad combat reports, technical reports, meeting minutes and other materials into a cogent and fascinating narrative. Their discussion, analysis and conclusions regarding the German—and Allied—developments in the air war make for fascinating reading…
         “Make no mistake about it: Caldwell and Muller’s book is a major addition to the literature on Luftwaffe air operations. It may, in fact, be THE definitive book on the subject. Highly recommended.” — Michael O’Connor,

“Drawing on newly available primary sources, the authors offer a solid account of day fighter operations against American strategic bomber operations, as well as analyses pulled from German participants and official observers… The extensive combat recollections taken from interviews and first-hand accounts paint a desperate picture of shrinking numbers of fighters and crews, a diminishing industrial base, disappearing oil resources, and increased political infighting—even as top Nazi officials like Göring still continued to fantasize that Germany would ultimately triumph.” — Clayton Chun, World War II

“…Working on this project for over 10 years, the authors have delved deeply into logbooks, doctrine manuals, after-action reports, war diaries, official records, and interviews with surviving Luftwaffe veterans to bring this amazing story to life. The result is a full and fabulous history of the Luftwaffe’s fighter arm—the Fw 190s, Bf 109s, and Me 262s—that battled the American bomber streams. In this richly illustrated volume with over 200 photos, the authors present a complete examination of Luftwaffe organization, theory and doctrine that eventually affectedGermany’s ability to defend itself.
          This is a meticulously researched history of the longest and most intensely fought air battle of all time, worthy of a place on any aviation buff’s bookshelf.” — Mason B. Webb, WWII History

This book has just been reprinted, and is now available from Pen and Sword Books in the UK. It will soon be available from Casemate Publishing Co. in the USA.

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