by Joel S. A. Hayward
Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1998. Pp. xxiii, 323.
Illus., maps, notes, biblio., index. $39.95. ISBN:0-7006-0876-1
One of the things we have long needed in terms of the history of the German Air Force is some good operational campaign history. Far too many books on the Luftwaffe concern themselves with incredible technical minutiae, or concentrate overly on some personalities, most notably Hermann Göring. Richard Muller's very good work The German Air War in Russia was an important step in the right direction. Joel Hayward's Stopped at Stalingrad extends this much further.
Stopped at Stalingrad is really a campaign history of Luftflotte 4 and its part in the 1942 German summer campaign in Russia, which culminated so disastrously at Stalingrad. The major personality of the book is General (later Field Marshal) Wolfram von Richthofen, who started 1942 as the commander of Flieger Korps VIII, and from July 1942 on was the commander of Luftflotte 4; a man whose arrogance was matched only by his ability as the Luftwaffe's best field commander.
Hayward's book has two very interesting arguments. First, Hayward revives an old argument concerning the question of where the turning point of the war was. Since the late 1970's the now accepted conventional wisdom is that the German defeat at Moscow in December 1941 was really the turning point of the war. Hayward seems to challenge this, although he does it more by implication than by open argument. The second argument Hayward advances is that the Luftwaffe could have crippled Soviet oil production by launching large-scale bomber raids against Baku in the summer of 1942, when the German advance brought the major Soviet oil producing areas within bomber range. Here I think Hayward is on firmer ground. Richthofen did launch two large-scale raids on the oil refining facilities at Grozny with impressive results.
The attritional nature of the campaign, and the failed air lift to supply the Sixth Army are well covered. Hayward also gives good coverage to lesser known aspects of the campaign, such as air operations over the Black Sea, aimed at bottling up the Soviet Black Sea Fleet. The book is splendidly researched and well-written. Hayward has the knack of being able to explain even very technical matters in easily understood prose.
The book does have some minor flaws. Although one might expect it in a work of this nature, the ground campaign is not particularly well covered. Also Hayward consistently misidentifies some units, the most egregious example being the Army's Grossdeutschland Division, which Hayward consistently identifies as an SS unit.
These minor flaws notwithstanding, this is a superb piece of work. It is an absolute must for anyone with an interest in the war on the eastern front, and on the Stalingrad campaign in particular.