By the time Hitler declared war on the Soviet Union in 1941, he knew that his military machine was running out of fuel. In response, he launched Operation Blau, a campaign designed to protect Nazi oilfields in Rumania while securing new ones in the Caucasus. All that stood in the way was Stalingrad. Most accounts of the Battle of Stalingrad have focused on the dismal fate of the German Army. Joel Hayward now chronicles Luftwaffe operations during that campaign, focusing on Hitler's use of the air force as a tactical rather than strategic weapon in close support of ground forces. He vividly details the Luftwaffe's key role as "flying artillery," showing that the army relied on Luftwaffe support to a far greater degree than has been previously revealed and that its successes in the East occurred largely because of the effectiveness of that support. Hayward analyzes this major German offensive from the standpoint of cooperation between ground and air forces to attain mutually agreed objectives. He draws on diaries of both key commanders and regular airmen to recreate crucial battles and convey the drama of Hitler's frustrations and reckless leadership. Ultimately, Hayward shows, the poorly conceived strategies of Hitler, Goering, and others in Berlin doomed the efforts of air commander Wolfram von Richthofen, a courageous and resolute leader attempting to come to grips with an increasingly impossible situation. Stopped at Stalingrad is a dynamic case study in combined arms warfare that fills in many of the gaps left by other studies of the eastern war. By reconsidering the campaign in the light of a wider body of documentary sources and analyzing many previously ignored events, Hayward provides military historians and general readers a much deeper and more complete understanding of the Battle of Stalingrad and its impact on World War II.
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