Sharks of the Air

The Story of Willy Messerschmitt and the Development of History's First Operational Jet Fighter

James Neal Harvey

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. Sharks of the Air tells the story of Willy Messerschmitt's life, and shows how this aeronautical genius built many revolutionary a
Date Published :
January 2011
Publisher :
Casemate
Language:
English
Illustration :
16 pages b/w photos
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Hardback
ISBN : 9781935149460
Pages : 352
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
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Available
$49.95
Paperback
ISBN : 9781612008929
Pages : 408
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
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Not Yet Published. Available for Pre-Order
$24.95
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Overview
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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 World 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.

About The Author
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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.

TABLE OF CONTENTS
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Prologue

Part I: Taking Flight
Part II: Birth Of The Jet Age
Part III: A Crucial Mistake
Part IV: Reaping The Whirlwind
Part V: The Stormbird Goes To War
Part VI: Armageddon

Epilogue
Acknowledgements
Source Notes
Bibliography
Index

REVIEWS
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"…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

“…uses his 40 years of flying experience and experience of aviation to tell the fascinating story of Messerschmitt and how, given the right conditions, Messerschmitt and other German aircraft designers could have changed the course of WWII.”

- Military Scale

“Well researched and written with verve.”

- Publisher’s Weekly

“…a fascinating book, an insight into the life of a man who played a role in the Nazi war machine, but is not defined by it.”

- Scale Aviation Modeller International

“Gear head’s history at heart, spiced with bracing air battle accounts of Willy’s planes in action and an adulterous affair with a baroness.”

- World War II

“…interesting in its coverage of the famous designer and his problems with the authorities….Written in an open style…easy to read…”

- Aeroplane Magazine

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