To Win the Winter Sky: The Air War over the Ardennes, 1944-1945

To Win the Winter Sky: The Air War over the Ardennes, 1944-1945

To Win the Winter Sky: The Air War over the Ardennes, 1944-1945

To Win the Winter Sky: The Air War over the Ardennes, 1944-1945

Synopsis

As Allied and German armies fought on the ground in the Battle of the Bulge, an equally desperate battle raged in the skies overhead, as enemy air forces fought the weather and each other for supremacy. Acclaimed author Danny Parker completes the narrative begun in his highly successful Battle of the Bulge. He covers the important and previously unexplored air aspect of a famous land battle. Those who thought they were thoroughly familiar with Hitler's last offensive will find a wealth of new information here, including exclusive interviews with war-time airmen, over 100 rare photos, the unknown story of German MIAs, Luftwaffe jets and other secret weapons, losses in men and aircraft for both sides from government archives, aircraft performance comparisons, and the innovations in tactics and technology that made victory for one side possible and defeat for the other side inevitable. Through all the facts and figures, Danny Parker weaves a compelling narrative about the airmen on both sides in the last desperate days of World War II, about their conflicts with the enemy and among themselves as they stood on the brink of victory--and defeat. As the end of the war drew near, Allied leaders were divided between British and Americans, air and ground commanders, and advocates of strategic and tactical air operations. On the German side, Luftwaffe leaders Hermann Göring and Dietrich Peltz sought to obey every order to the bitter end, while Luftwaffe fighter commander Adolf Galland struggled to save his last reserves of young pilots from a final and futile slaughter. Danny S. Parker is a former research consultant to the Joint Chiefs of Staff on the Battle of the Bulge, and is the author of "Ten Percent Chance of Victory: The Last Operation of the German Airborne," and The Battle of the Bulge. He is highly regarded by veterans, historians, and active-duty military personnel.

Excerpt

In December, 1944 and January, 1945 one of the great battles of World War II was fought in the skies over the Ardennes Forest of Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg. This battle is virtually unknown. Unlike the famous Battle of the Bulge, the air war overhead was almost completely one-sided- the Allied air forces won the campaign decisively. Moreover, the magnitude of this victory had a profound influence on the outcome of the ground battle below. For the U.S. and British air forces had not only menaced the German enemy on the battlefield, blasting their troops and tanks, but they also starved their armies by lancing their sources of supply. So decisive was the impact, that the outcome of the battle in the Ardennes was virtually predestined.

The use of Allied air power against the German Ardennes Offensive was historic. Never before had air power blunted an enemy's surprise counter‐ offensive from the sky. Until that winter, air power providing ground support had only been used in mass to support attacking armies. Although Adolf Hitler had carefully selected the time and circumstances under which his great operation would be launched, it was the first time Germany had embarked on a major offensive without assurance of air superiority. Indeed, so dubious was Hitler of his Luftwaffe's capabilities, that he forbade the opening of the attack without a forecast of poor weather to keep the Allied planes on the tarmac. At first, the weather promised Hitler success. The fog, mist and snows grounded most aircraft for the initial days of the great German offensive. Afterwards, however, the veil of clouds lifted and Allied air power was given a task unprecedented in modern warfare: to strangle the enemy's armored spearheads by attack from the air while friendly forces reeled under a vigorous assault below. The Allied air forces rose magnificently to the challenge.

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