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Sharks of the Air: Willy Messerschmitt and How He Built the World's First Operational Jet Fighterby James Neal Harvey
Synopses & Reviews
In July 1944 the Allies were stunned by the appearance of the Messerschmitt Me-262, the world's first operational jet warplane. This new German fighter was more than 100 mph faster than any other aircraft in the skies. Although always greatly outnumbered, the Me-262 gained scores of victories over Allied fighters and bombers, and by the end of the war, many of the Luftwaffe's greatest aces had clamored to be in their cockpits. No wonder military leaders believed that if it had been introduced earlier, this jet could have changed the outcome of the war.
Sharks of the Air tells the story of Willy Messerschmitt's life, and shows how this aeronautical genius built many revolutionary airplanes-not excluding the Luftwaffe's mainstay, the Me-109-and culminating in the Me-262. It describes how his various warplanes fought in Spain, Poland, France, Britain, the U.S.S.R., and over Germany, and it provides thrilling accounts of air battles drawn from combat reports and interviews with veterans.
This book also shows how Messerschmitt-like other geniuses such as Porsche, von Braun, and Speer- was affected by cutthroat Nazi politics, and describes his intense rivalries with other aircraft designers. It reveals aspects of his life never before made public, including his love affair with the beautiful Baroness Lilly Michel-Rolino, a rich aristocrat who left her husband to live with Willy.
And finally it shows how in Word War II Messerschmitt believed he was loyally supporting the Fatherland, until he realized too late that Hitler was a madman. Like many of the technical innovations of Nazi Germany in the war, production arrived too late in order to change the final outcome. If Messerschmitt had been given free rein from the start, however, Allied air superiority might never have occurred.
Author James Neal Harvey has been a pilot for more than 40 years and has owned a dozen aircraft (including a De Havilland Tiger Moth built for the RAF, a Stinson V-77 that flew in the Royal Navy, and a Messerschmitt Bf-108 that served in the Luftwaffe). Author of six previous books, his grasp of aero-dynamics informs the narrative, as he examines how Messerschmitt might well have changed the course of the Second World War.
...perfect blend of sympathetic career biography and gripping military history...Only an author with 40 years' flying experience and a connoisseur's appreciation of World War II vintage aircraft could have written such a fine book, solidly researched from family interviews, pilot reports, and appropriate secondary sources. Additionally, the dramatic writing style makes Harvey's effort a definite winner for all World War II military history buffs.-Library Journal, 11/05/2010
"Harvey (Dead Game) a pilot with 40 years of experience, examines not only the life of Messerschmitt, but the rapidly changing world during the first half of the 20th century. Following WWI, Messerschmitt made a name for himself designing gliders and powered gliders in the 1920s. By the mid-1930s, with Germany openly defying the Treaty of Versailles, he'd designed and built the Bf-109 fighter, the world's fastest all-metal fighter aircraft. In 1939, he submitted plans for a jet powered fighter that would become the Me-262, a revolutionary aircraft. An unnamed American General even speculated that the Me-262 could have prevented the Normandy Invasion, but changes sent down by the Air Ministry and unreliable jet engines delayed its operational use until 1944. In chronicling Messerschmitt and his era, Harvey also exposes the cutthroat politics among top Nazi officials, all jockeying to be Hitler's favorite. With all of the political intrigues and maneuvering, it is no surprise that the '1000-year Reich' lasted only 12 years. Well researched and written with verve. (Jan. 5)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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History and Social Science » Military » Aviation History