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Kursk: The Air Battle, July 1943 Hardcover – March 15, 2008
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About the Author
Christer BergstrÃ¶m works professionally as a teacher in English and Swedish history and is the author of several highly acclaimed books on World War II aviation, including 'Black Cross/Red Star' Volumes 1 and 2 (with Andrey Mikhailov), 'Graf and Grislawski.
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Top Customer Reviews
Having bought a large number of books on the armoured and ground offensives, this took my eye as something completely different than what I was used to reading.
Having never read any of Christer Bergstom's books, his offering on Kursk The Air Battle 1943 was something I knew very little about.
However once I started reading I could not put it down and showed that the sacrifice on the ground was matched by the sacrifice in the air where Soviet pilots attempted to stop the German offensive.
The book gives a fascinating look into the onboard weapons employed by both sides in the conflict, the aircraft, the men and tactics used.
It is told from both a Russian and German perspective so gives a fair account of the fighting.
Kursk saw the first use of the Henschel 129 and Ju87 cannon equipped aircraft which in the hands of men such as Hans Ulrich Rudel, were devastating on Russian armoured columns. These types of aircraft could and did in fact influence the outcome in halting a Soviet offense.
On the flip side the Russians demonstrated the lessons they had learned from the Germans in the first years of the war. New fighter tactics and the mass use of the IL 2 Shturmovik with effective fighter escort turned the tables and eventually stopped the German momentumn.
The book is broken up into various sections and deals with the battle in the North and South as well as the German retreat from the Orel Bulge between the 16th - 31 July.It was during this period that the air war took another twist with night fighting, as each side tried to gain control of the darkness to harass the enemy.
The author has gone to great pains in his research and must be commended as he not doubt waded through various propaganda figures to come up with a balanced aircraft loss chart for both sides at the conclusion of his book.
There are wonderful photos of all the main aircraft types involved, some of the leading personalities/aces and even the odd colour photo.
There are a large number of appendix, orders of battle charts, and even a chart on individual Luftwaffe losses during the battle.
At a little over 140 pages the book is printed on glossy paper and is a very easy read.
I would have no hesitation in recommending this book and I await Christer Bergstom's next offering on the final days of the air battles on the Eastern Front
Kursk, which witnessed the greatest tank battles in history, turned out to be Hitler's last (offensive) gasp on the Russian Front. Designed to tidy up the front lines, delays on Hitler's part enabled the Russians to construct defenses in depth that withstood the German pincer attack that began on 5 July.
As documented in Bergstrom's book, air power played a significant role in the Kursk fighting. Time and again Luftwaffe or VVS units smashed or seriously impeded their opponents' attacks/counter-attacks and rear area movements. Initially Luftwaffe fighters savaged VVS units time and again yet the Russians learned from their mistakes and, by the end of the Kursk campaign, were triumphant.
KURSK, THE AIR BATTLE: JULY 1943 displays the usual strengths and weaknesses of books by this author. The accuracy of the text can't be questioned; Bergstrom's research is impeccable as always. His bibliography lists dozens of German, Russian, U.K. and U.S.A. archives; hundreds of books in various languages; pilot logbooks; and so on. The book features over 140 b&w and color photos, some of which are previously unpublished, along with maps and artwork.
And, as always, Bergstrom crams a lot of information in his narrative. Though he includes a number of first-person reminiscences, Bergstrom's book can sometimes be dry. Likewise a spotty translation makes for uneven reading. Bergstrom describes how "Soviet fighters struck down on the few German fighters..." One tank brigade is described as "operating in a guerilla fashioned nature." In relating the shootdown of a VVS pilot, Bergstorm notes: "Ltr. Petr Vostrukhin...never got out of his descending Yak fighter." "With his Yak-1 set burning," another pilot bails out, badly injured; and so on.
If possible, I would have given Bergstrom's book 4 1/2 stars because of the readability factor.
Yet, until something better comes along, Bergstorm's book will stand as the authoritative book on Kursk air ops. Highly recommended.