Day Fighters in Defence of the Reich: A War Diary, 1942-1945. By Donald Caldwell. Barnsley U-K: Pen & Sword, 2011. Maps. Tables. Diagrams. Photographs. Appendices. Glossary. Bibliography. Index. Pp. 480. $70.00 ISBN: 978-1-84832-525-8
Forget the high cost of this book. For anyone interested in the U.S. bombing campaign against the Germans and their European-occupied areas in World War II, the book is worth every nickel and then some. It is the definitive study of Luftwaffe opposition to the operations of the U.S. Army's Eighth and Fifteenth Air Forces.
Caldwell and Richard Muller previously published The Luftwaffe over Germany: Defense of the Reich, which was a narrative history. This second book is a chronological work covering, in superb detail, the daily attacks against the U.S. bombers. As such, the two volumes directly parallel Roger Freeman's classic The Mighty Eighth and Mighty Eighth War Diary. While reading Day Fighters in Defence of the Reich, I had Mighty Eighth War Diary open right next to it. It is unfortunate that no one ever undertook a similar historical effort covering the Fifteenth Air Force and its operations, because Caldwelrs book covers, of necessity, missions conducted by both the England- and Italy-based U.S. units. Coverage in Caldwell is, therefore, slightly less detailed for Fifteenth counter-operations than it is for those operations dealing with the Eighth's threat.
So, what do you get for all this money? First in importance, from my perspective, is the finest set of combat maps published on the air war. These show the routes of the incoming attack forces (which Freeman does not include) but also the bases, units, and routes flown by the defenders. Let's take the Eighth's Mission #250 to Berlin on March 6, 1944, as an example. After a brief recap of the information presented...