Gerhard Fieseler

The Man Behind the Storch

Nigel Holden

The life of Gerhard Fieseler: decorated First World War fighter pilot, world aerobatics champion, creator of the legendary Storch reconnaissance aircraft and builder of the V-1.
Date Published :
April 2018
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Illustration :
48 b/w photos
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9781911512745
Pages : 328
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
Stock Status : In stock


The Fieseler Storch is the most famous slow-speed aircraft of the Second World War. A remarkably versatile reconnaissance plane, as well as a Nazi showpiece and diplomatic gift - and even, in postwar British hands, a tool in helicopter design - it was linked to some of the best-known personages of the conflict: Hitler, Speer, Rommel, Mussolini, Churchill and Stalin. Furthermore, as Nigel Holden suggests in this first complete biography in English of Gerhard Fieseler (its creator), no other plane had a comparably equivalent role in that war.

Making use of Fieseler’s own autobiography and other material never reproduced in English, Holden chronicles Fieseler's life against four distinct, interlocking German contexts: the Reich of the erratic Kaiser Wilhelm II; the unloved years of the Weimar Republic; the Nazi era; and the anxious Federal Republic. He also traces Fieseler in the context of aviation development in the first 50 years of the 20th century.

As a boy, Fieseler was obsessed with aircraft and air-mindedness (the idea of harnessing airpower for nation-building purposes); the First World War gave him the opportunity to fly for the Fatherland. In the 1920s, he gained international fame as an aerobatics pilot - becoming world champion in 1934. His considerable earnings were invested in a small aircraft company, which became under the Nazis (who had ideas of air-mindedness of their own) a favored supplier to the Luftwaffe. Fieseler’s company became regarded as among the very best in Germany, in terms of technical capability and the integration of Nazi ideals into factory life. Gōring appointed Fieseler to his inner circle of Germany’s top industrial leaders and, during the Second World War, his company manufactured under licence Messerschmitt 109s and Focke-Wulf 190s. Fieseler – according to his own account – was the driving force behind the development of the V1, which is widely regarded as the forbear of the cruise missile.

Holden’s biography argues that Fieseler may well have been a better fighter pilot than the renowned Richthofen and reveals some uncanny parallels between his life and that of Germany’s greatest wartime aircraft designer, Willi Messerchmitt, as well as describing his time as an indicted war criminal and his subsequent quest for postwar respectability. Fieseler emerges as an audacious fighter pilot, an heroic aerobatics pilot, an inspiring industrial leader (for a time), a Nazi opportunist, a not always reliable memoirist and an obstreperous old man who, to the end, blamed Hitler - and largely only Hitler -for provoking the Second World War.

About The Author

Nigel Holden is a retired business school professor who has worked in the UK, Germany and Denmark. His last appointment was as a Visiting Research Fellow at Leeds University Business School. A widely-travelled management researcher and educator, he has given lectures and keynote addresses all over the world. Nigel has written and/or co-authored four books on culture and management in international business and has had published more than a hundred academic articles - as well as more than 30 book chapters - on his fields of specialisation: cross-cultural management, knowledge management, international marketing, management change in Russia and East/Central Europe, marketing in Japan, management terminology in various languages, intercultural business communication, talent management and business history. Gerhard Fieseler: The man behind the Storch is his first book in the field of military history.


“It is always interesting to know what the idea was behind something great, and here we get a decent insight on the history of the Storch creation. We all like to read such things from insider view, right?”

- Vikto Mullin, DetailScaleView, March 2018

"Nigel Holden’s flowing style makes this biography an easy read; there were times I did not want to put it down."

- Air Power History

“I am not sure that I would have liked him if I met him but dull he is not. I quickly began to understand the author Nigel Holden's interest in him.”

- Army Rumour Service

“This, the first complete biography of Fieseler’s life in English, is long overdue.”

- Classic Wings

“In summary, this is a valiant, informative and much-needed work, but it seems to lack important archival input.”

- The Aviation Historian

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