Book Review: Air War Europa: America’s Air War Against Germany In Europe and North Africa 1942-1945 (Eric Hammel): WWII

Air War Europa: America’s Air War Against Germany In Europe and North Africa 1942-1945
by Eric Hammel, Pacifica Press, Pacifica, Calif., 1994, $55. With extensive, exhaustive and conscientious research, author Eric Hammel, who has written more than 20 military history­related books during a lengthy career, brings to the World War II historian a comprehensive chronology of the conflict in the skies over Europe and North Africa.

Hammel’s intent was to produce a day-by-day account of the air war, and what he has accomplished is no mean feat. All major combat encounters involving the U.S. Army Air Forces and air combat units of the U.S. Navy are discussed. Additionally, an introductory narrative relates the development of fighter tactics in the European Theater of Operations and the major role these tactics played in the ultimate defeat of Hitler’s vaunted Luftwaffe.

Perhaps the most valuable contribution to the air war enthusiast’s library that the book offers is the historical context into which the author places the chronology of air war events. Related ground campaigns are updated throughout the catalog of air events, while discussions of the major conferences among the Allied powers document grand strategy and the role air power played in them. Further, technological advances such as the use of auxiliary fuel tanks, tactical advances such as the evolutionary role of fighter escorts, and the development of specialized equipment are highlighted. The text is complemented by theater maps and two comprehensive indexes. As an accurate, thorough and valuable reference, Air War Europa delivers.
Adam Headly

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