Warriors and Wizards: The Development and Defeat of Radio-Controlled Glide Bombs of the Third Reich.

Author:Ellis, Steve
Position:Book review

Warriors and Wizards: The Development and Defeat of Radio-Controlled Glide Bombs of the Third Reich. By Martin J. Bollinger. Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 2010. Map. Photographs Tables. Notes. Appendix. Bibliography. Index. Pp xviii, 269. $39.95 ISBN: 978-1-59114-067-2

In researching and writing this work, the author has applied his interest in naval and maritime history to a topic that remains as relevant to today's warfare as it did to those involved in Europe's World War II maritime war--the practical application of standoff weapons and the methods to defeat them. Nazi Germany introduced and successfully used standoff weapons--two versions of glide bombs directed by an airborne controller--from August 1943 to August 1944. The threat was considered so great that the loss of Allied vessels, particularly those supporting the operations at Anzio between Rome and Naples, was, for some time, reported to the public as caused by mines or conventional air-dropped torpedoes.

While for the most part treating the topic in chronological fashion, Bollinger examines the roles of four distinct groups: the German scientists who devised the guidance system, the Allied scientists who sought to counter this new technology by electronic means, the Luftwaffe crews who attempted to deliver the weapons, and the seamen who had to deal with the consequences. Drawing on records and reminiscences from North America and Europe, Bollinger carefully attempts to identify as many glide-bomb attacks as possible. At the same time, however, he accounts for the influence of all concerned. Once having introduced the weapons, how would the Germans refine their use? How did the skippers of vessels under attack respond? What did the Allies make of their newly installed electronic gear?

The highly trained Luftwaffe crews experienced their greatest rate of success in the earliest months of the campaign, partly because the early targets were less well defended and partly because neither active nor passive...

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