Dive back into Blood Red Skies with a brief look at the Luftwaffe – join some of the war’s finest aces in a desperate struggle for control of Europe’s skies!
Despite the treaty of Versailles’ prohibition on warplanes of any kind, Hitler’s Reich continued development of aircraft technologies in secret, often using commercial enterprise as a cover. The tri-motor Ju-52 transport plane was used first as an uncomfortable, unreliable and potentially dangerous commercial airliner, to cover the fact that it was intended to scatter paratroopers behind enemy lines.
I like Mickey Mouse. I always have. And I like cigars, but I had to give them up after the war. – Adolf Galland
With the outbreak of war in Spain, Hitler was quick to offer military aid to Franco. The Condor Legion operated a small fleet of fighter and bomber aircraft, all of which proved to be vastly superior to the biplanes and early monoplanes flown by the Republicans. The Spanish Civil War showcased the effectiveness of using dive bombers to support infantry attacks, and the demoralising effect of strategic bombing of civilian targets, all of which would influence Luftwaffe strategy going forward.
In the early years of the second world war, the Luftwaffe’s dominance of European skies was assured by their fleet of cutting-edge aircraft and battle-hardened pilots. Bf109 fighters cleared the skies of enemy opposition, allowing swarms of shrieking dive-bombers to act as flying artillery, blasting holes in the enemy battle line for the blitzkrieg to pour through.
Despite technological superiority, and a glut of experienced pilots, the Luftwaffe was often let down by its strategic planning and decision making, a result of the megalomaniacal Herman Goring, who’s constant meddling undermined aircraft production and deployments.
The Luftwaffe’s dominance was challenged over the English Channel, where courageous Spitfire pilots battled the Germans to a standstill. In the North African and Mediterranean theatres, a lack of modern aircraft and experienced pilots allowed some German pilots to rack up cricket score-sized kill counts.
As the war progressed, German industry continued to design and produce state-of-the-art aircraft, sending shocks through the Allied ranks when they found themselves completely outclassed. Of particular note was the Focke-Wulf 190, which forced British designers to rush through modifications to the Spitfire V, or find themselves on the back foot once again.
The Germans were also pioneers of rocket and jet technology, using these revolutionary propulsion systems to kickstart a new generation of aircraft. These technologies would be co-opted by the Allies after the war, evolving into jets like the F-86 Sabre and Mig-15.
- Pips Priller
- Hans-Joachim Marseille
- Adolf Galland