Sharks of the Air: Willy Messerschmitt and How He Built the World's First Operational Jet Fighter

James Neal Harvey. Casemate (Casemate, dist.), $32.95 (424p) ISBN 978-1-935149-46-0
Harvey (Dead Game) a pilot with 40 years of experience, examines not only the life of Messerschmitt, but the rapidly changing world during the first half of the 20th century. Following WWI, Messerschmitt made a name for himself designing gliders and powered gliders in the 1920s. By the mid-1930s, with Germany openly defying the Treaty of Versailles, he'd designed and built the Bf-109 fighter, the world's fastest all-metal fighter aircraft. In 1939, he submitted plans for a jet powered fighter that would become the Me-262, a revolutionary aircraft. An unnamed American General even speculated that the Me-262 could have prevented the Normandy Invasion, but changes sent down by the Air Ministry and unreliable jet engines delayed its operational use until 1944. 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. (Jan. 5)
Reviewed on: 03/28/2011
Release date: 01/01/2011
Genre: Nonfiction
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