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EBOOK ì The Most Dangerous Enemy: A History of the Battle of Britain õ Already hailed as the standard work, The Most Dangerous Enemy is an authoritative history of the British battle that galvanized the public imagination and symbolized the destiny of a nation But in this rigorous re investigation of the Battle of Britain, Stephen Bungay tells a story full of revelations Whether assessing the development of radar or the relative merits of the Spitfire, Hurricane, and Messerschmitt, he uncovers the unexpected truth behind many time honored myths Not only a major work of modern history but also a truly compelling narrative, The Most Dangerous Enemy confirms the Battle of Britain as a crucial event in European history The Battle of Britain stands out among the long list of military clashes for a number of reasons A struggle for air superiority over the skies of southern England, it was the first battle ever waged entirely in the skies By successfully holding off the Luftwaffe s aerial onslaught, the British forestalled an invasion in 1940, guaranteeing that the Germans would face a two front war when Hitler focused the Nazi war machine on the Soviet Union the following year.Many accounts of the battle have The Battle of Britain stands out among the long list of military clashes for a number of reasons A struggle for air superiority over the skies of southern England, it was the first battle ever waged entirely in the skies By successfully holding off the Luftwaffe s aerial onslaught, the British forestalled an invasion in 1940, guaranteeing that the Germans would face a two front war when Hitler focused the Nazi war machine on the Soviet Union the following year.Many accounts of the battle have been written, from memoirs by the pilots to narratives from academic historians In this respect Stephen Bungay s qualifications stand out a former business consultant and insurance executive, he brings a different approach to examining the conflict Taking the fall of France as his starting point, he intersperses his narrative of the battle which is largely free of the management jargon that might be expected given his background with chapters examining various factors in the struggle, from the performances of the planes deployed to the command structures of the two sides Here he draws upon both his training and his command of German to provide abalanced assessment of the two sides What emerges is a provocative argument that the German effort was hopeless, requiring exhausted pilots to achieve statistically unrealistic ratios of combat victories in conditions that favored their opponents.Such an unusual conclusion might fly in the face of the mythology surrounding the famous Few , yet Bungay s analysis is persuasive in marshaling the numbers to prove its point Combined with a thorough summary of the campaign, it makes this book the best overview of the Battle of Britain If there is a flaw, it lies in Bungay s rather narrow scope of study, as he only takes into account events from the 1930s onward and largely overlooks the many studies of the first Battle of Britain that could have shed light on many of the attitudes participants brought to the campaign Yet this is a minor flaw in what is otherwise an excellent study of a pivotal struggle of the Second World War Though many books have been written on the Battle of Britain since the end of the Second World War, Stephen Bungay s book offers some fresh insights on the Battle Using material from both British and German sources, Bungay shows that the Luftwaffe, despite its impressive show of strength from Poland to the defeat of France in June 1940, was not capable of waging a strategic bombing campaign against Britain which could have defeated it An invasion of Britain could only have succeeded through a Though many books have been written on the Battle of Britain since the end of the Second World War, Stephen Bungay s book offers some fresh insights on the Battle Using material from both British and German sources, Bungay shows that the Luftwaffe, despite its impressive show of strength from Poland to the defeat of France in June 1940, was not capable of waging a strategic bombing campaign against Britain which could have defeated it An invasion of Britain could only have succeeded through a concerted effort of the German Army, Navy, and Luftwaffe Further, the German leadership was not wholly confident that Germany could defeat Britain For a short time after France had fallen, it had hoped that Britain would be conciliatory to Germany and sue for peace But when it became clear that Britain would fight, the Luftwaffe adapted a series of shifting tactics to neutralize and destroy RAF Fighter Command First, there were the attacks on shipping in the English Channel and radar stations Then the Luftwaffe shifted over to attacks on RAF airbases, which, had they beenconsistently carried out, might well have neutered RAF Fighter Command Instead, Hitler, in a pique of anger over Britain having dropped bombs on Berlin, set the Luftwaffe to bombing London This gave RAF Fighter Command the breathing space it needed to rest, refit, and take on the Luftwaffe in larger numbers Bungay shows that throughout the Battle, British aircraft production increased significantly relative to German aircraft production Germany, full of hubris in the summer of 1940, made the mistake of underestimating the capacity of the RAF to challenge the Luftwaffe and Britain s will to fight for its survival The book is well written, comprehensive, easy to read, and comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED The Most Dangerous Book A Distortion of the Battle of BritainTo begin with the positives, this book is well researched and well written In particular I enjoyed the chapter dedicated to the development of the Spitfire and Hurricane Unfortunately that is where the positives end, there is nothing new in this book.After 20 pages I was almost ready to give up on this book, however I persevered only to find my disappointment grew and grew I bought the book based on reviews and recommendations from The Most Dangerous Book A Distortion of the Battle of BritainTo begin with the positives, this book is well researched and well written In particular I enjoyed the chapter dedicated to the development of the Spitfire and Hurricane Unfortunately that is where the positives end, there is nothing new in this book.After 20 pages I was almost ready to give up on this book, however I persevered only to find my disappointment grew and grew I bought the book based on reviews and recommendations from people constantly saying that this is the one true book on the Battle of Britain it has almost achieved biblical status amongst some circles When I reached page 200 I realised that I had only read a handful of pages relating to actual events during the battle the rest was about how Churchill was the main factor in Britain s victory, how inefficient and incompetent the German s were and in general how the British and their allies were destined to win no matter what It becameandobvious that the author had a pre determined agenda to prove how bad the Luftwaffe was This is where the extensive research comes into its own, in finding the most appropriate evidence to support the authors theory, discounting evidence that contradicts it and misrepresenting information and facts to suit.For example the topic of combat claims is raised, on the one hand the author states that this is understandable on the part of the RAF due to the fog of war then suggests that Luftwaffe over claims were in part due to fraudulent reporting There is no evidence provided to back up either claim whether it is correct or not The author also states that over claims are regularly 2 1 but with clever manipulation something the author is good at it can be proved that the RAF over claims were almost 3 1 from 10th July to 11th August the author says that there were 216 German aircraft destroyed in combat actual RAF claims for the same period including confirmed, unconfirmed and duplicate claims is somewhere in the region of 600.Another example relates to German intelligence reports at the beginning of the battle and how this proves the Germans were incompetent The author takes four points raised in a report produced on 16th July whereas the report actually includesthan twenty separate statements Having read a translation of the report it is clear that the author has chosen carefully which parts to summarise and in the process twisting the facts to suit his theory From the book Both the Hurricane and Spitfire were inferior to the Bf109F which was not yet in production and only a skilfully handled Spitfire was better than the Bf110 From the report In view of the combat performance and the fact that they are not yet equipped with cannon guns both types are inferior to the Me109, while the individual Me110 is inferior to skilfully handled Spitfires It must be remembered that from combat experience the German s would be partially correct in this assumption, the only time the two types had met in serious combat was over France and Belgium and following the Battle of France the performance of both the Hurricane and Spitfire were increased by improving the propellers and introducing a higher grade fuel.From the book The number of operational airfields in Southern England was severely limited From the report In the ground organisation there is a considerable number of airstrips in the southern part of the island and in some areas of the north However, only a limited number can be considered as operational airfields with modern maintenance and supply installations In general, the well equipped airfields are used as take off and landing bases, while the numerous smaller airfields located in the vicinity serve as alternate landing grounds and rest bases In my opinion the German report is correct and the version in the book is a misrepresentation of what appears in the report The report says there were a considerable number of airstrips with only a limited number being operational there may have been 40 or 50 airfields identified in the south but only 9 of those were sector stations, the main operational hubs This is a limited number just 20 25% The author has summarised this by saying the Germans believed there were a SEVERLY limited number which is incorrect.From the book The British aircraft industry was producing 180 300 frontline fighters a month the true figure for July was 496 and would decrease From the report At present the British aircraft industry produces 180 300 first line fighters and 140 first line bombers a month In view of the present conditions relating to production the appearance of raw material difficulties, the disruption or breakdown of production and factories owing to air attacks, the increased vulnerability to air attack owing to the fundamental reorganisation of the aircraft industry now in progress , it is believed that for the time being output will decrease rather than increase I believe the estimates regarding British fighter production are not wrong as such, just outdated If the June figures for production are available the latest at the time of the report the average production rate over the previous six months would have been 250 fighters per month, if production figures were only available from May the first month the British broke through the 300 per month mark then the average over the previous six months would have been 190 fighters per month By throwing in the production figure for July, a figure that no one could have known at the time of the report, the author of the book is manipulating the evidence, yet again, to prove his theory As for the decrease in production predicted by the Germans this did actually happen and it would not be until Feb 1941 that the production rates would be back up to the figure achieved in July 1940 The average production rate of fighters for the six months following July were in the region of 420 per month.In document WP 40 427 Second Report on the Ministry of Aircraft production it states for September 1940 We lost 300 machines as compared with August output in relation to production of all aircraft types It also goes on to say that one of the biggest worries is not from direct attack but from the time lost during air raid warnings where some factories were losing 50% of their production time.From the book Command at all levels was inflexible, with fighters being rigidly tied to their home bases, and station commanders were non flyers most flew regularly From the report Command at high level is inflexible in its organisation and strategy As formations are rigidly attached to their home bases, command at medium level suffers mainly from operations being controlled in most cases by officers no longer accustomed to flying station commanders Command at low level is generally energetic but lacks tactical skill The above seems to be a good assessment of the experience gained in the skies above France, the main source of the Luftwaffe s knowledge at the time of the report It was also contrary to the way the Germans did things As history would prove, this rigidity in the command and control structure would be one of the RAF s greatest assets To the Luftwaffe this concept was alien and therefore, in their eyes at least, flawed Why the author of the book had to emphasise the incorrect statement that station commanders were non flyers is just another example of his need to bend the truth to suit his theory The German report says that station commanders are no longer accustomed to flying NOT that they were non flyers In fact this is true, station commanders rarely took part in operational flying except as observers The Germans felt this was a weakness because it meant that those devising the everyday tactics were out of touch What they didn t realise was that once the enemy was sighted it was the low level commanders the squadron and flight leaders that determined how the enemy should be engaged They were the ones adapting and modifying the tactics as their experience grew.The above examples are mainly taken from just one page of the book but are representative of the many, many areas of the text that show the authors true intentions I have called this book The Most Dangerous Book because I believe it purposely misleads the reader.Buy this book by all means, it is a reasonable read and well written but please, please, please I urge all who buy it, DO NOT make this the one book on the Battle of Britain that you own and take the analysis offered with a pinch of salt There are far better sources of information out there and relying on this book will give you a false perspective on the events of the Summer and Autumn of 1940 Try the Battle of Britain Historical Society website for example, a muchrounded, unbiased account of events or the book Battle of Britain A day to day chronicle, 10 July 31 October 1940 by Patrick Bishop A solid overview of the fight for areal suppremacy prior to the Nazi invasion of England The daily actions are reported in considerable detail, sometimes a bit too much for my taste, but intersected by informed chapters on doctrine, radar, machines and men Bungay sometimes puts his points too bluntly and a few statements border on Anglophile, while he shows himself to be capable of sound reasoning when he notices how the importance of Fighter Command dawns on Kesselring, or, intriguingly, how A solid overview of the fight for areal suppremacy prior to the Nazi invasion of England The daily actions are reported in considerable detail, sometimes a bit too much for my taste, but intersected by informed chapters on doctrine, radar, machines and men Bungay sometimes puts his points too bluntly and a few statements border on Anglophile, while he shows himself to be capable of sound reasoning when he notices how the importance of Fighter Command dawns on Kesselring, or, intriguingly, how the Blitz on London in the later stage of the battle was the manifestation of a combined strategy of RAF attrition of an economic stranglehold on Britain Sealion was a bad plan eagle, barely a plan at all, amounted to littlethan flying over England, dropping bombs on various things and shooting down any fighters which came up as a result the Battle of Britain took the course it did because the major decision makers in the Luftwaffe did not know or understand what was actually going on