• History of Germany’s desperate effort to overcome Allied aerial superiority - the world’s first jet-powered fighter plane
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 100mph 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 clamoured 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 Willi Messerschmitt’s life, and shows how this aeronautical genius built many revolutionary aeroplanes—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 cut-throat 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 Willi. Finally, it shows how in Word War II Messerschmitt believed he was loyally supporting the Fatherland, until he realised 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.
The book uncovers several seldom before covered aspects of the aeronautical genius’s life such as his intense rivalries with other designers and his illicit affair with the Baroness Rolino that led her to leaving her husband to live with Messerschmitt. This is 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 AIRCRAFT MODELLING, 1/3/2011
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.
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, 1/1/2011
James Neal Harvey 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 IN SCALE, 1/5/2011
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 MAGAZINE, 1/8/2011
Well researched and written with verve.
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, 03/28/2011
This book is a remarkable journey for the reader, giving them a front-row seat within the heart of Germany’s aviation industry.
AIRFIX MODEL WORLD, 1/4/2011
It is interesting in its coverage of the famous designer and his problems with the authorities