Bomb­ing Nazi Ger­many: The Graphic His­tory of the Al­lied Air Cam­paign that De­feated Hitler in World War II

Air & Space Smithsonian - - Reviews & Previews - by W. Vansant. Zenith, 2013. 104 pp., $19.99.

IMAG­INE FLY­ING IN­SIDE a cramped B-17 Fly­ing Fortress, one tiny part of a for­ma­tion of hun­dreds headed to­ward a Ger­man city while en­emy fight­ers and flak try to blast the bombers from the sky. You en­dure sub­zero tem­per­a­tures, crammed among men clad in thick leather suits and up to their thighs in spent .50-cal­iber shell cas­ings. Just another day at the of­fice for an Al­lied bomber crew try­ing to push the Nazis into sub­mis­sion.

Vansant’s grim, graphic novel cov­ers both sides of the bomb­ing cam­paign over Western Europe: Ger­many pum­mels Eng­land in the early days, hop­ing to in­vade; Eng­land launches fight­ers to turn the Ger­mans back and builds up heavy-bomber forces to pound Ger­many right up to VE Day. With brief cap­tions, Vansant’s il­lus­tra­tions are ex­plicit: a dead copi­lot lean­ing against the pi­lot, a flam­ing B-24 Lib­er­a­tor drop­ping from the sky, a Messer­schmitt Bf 109 col­lid­ing with a B-17 midair. There are hero­ics, but no glory.

Ul­ti­mately Vansant poses the ques­tion that still nags his­to­ri­ans: Did strate­gic bomb­ing work? De­spite tons of ex­plo­sives un­leashed by both sides, Axis and Al­lied pro­duc­tion only in­creases. And de­spite civil­ian ca­su­al­ties on both sides, re­solve only har­dens. In to­tal war, Vansant says, over­whelm­ing force in the sky suc­ceeds only when it sup­ports troops on the ground. Brit and Amer­i­can thou­sand-air­plane raids might turn Sch­we­in­furt and Dres­den into moon­scapes, but only house-to-house fight­ing by Al­lied foot sol­diers could force Ger­many’s sur­ren­der.



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