UNFLINCHING ZEAL

The Air Battles Over France and Britain, May-October 1940
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Binding:Hardback
Published:September 15, 2012
by Robin Higham (Author)

This consequential work by a pioneer aviation historian fills a significant lacuna in the story of the defeat of France in May-June 1940 and more fully explains the Battle of Britain of July–October of that year and the influence it had on the Luftwaffe in the 1941 invasion of the USSR.

Robin Higham approaches the subject by sketching the story and status of the three air forces--the Armée de l’Air, the Luftwaffe, and the Royal Air Force--their organization and preparation for their battles. He then dissects the the campaigns, their losses and replacement policies and abilities. He paints the struggles of France and Britain from both the background provided by his recent Two Roads to War: From Versailles to Dunkirk (NIP, 2012) and from the details of losses tabulated by After the Battle’s The Battle of Britain (1982, 2nd ed.) and Peter Cornwell’s The Battle of France Then and Now (2007), as well as in Paul Martin’s Invisible Vainqueurs (1990) and from the Luftwaffe summaries in the British National Archives Cabinet papers.

One important finding is that the consumption and wastage was not nearly as high as claimed. The three air forces actually shot down only 19 percent of the number claimed. In the RAF case, in the summer of 1940, 44 percent of those shot down were readily repairable thanks to the salvage and repair organizations. This contrasted with the much lower 8 percent for the Germans and zero for the French.

Brave as the aircrews may have been, the inescapable conclusion is that awareness of consumption, wastage, and sustainability were intimately connected to survival.

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Product Details
  • Subject: Aviation
  • Hardback : 352 pages
  • Publisher: Naval Institute Press (September 15, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 1612511112
  • ISBN-13: 9781612511115
  • Product Dimensions: 6 X 9 in
  • Shipping Weight: 0
Praise
  • Two Roads to War is immensely readable, but it is also incredibly dense with fact. Robin Higham’s firsthand knowledge of the history of the period helps make this book an enduring masterpiece. Buy it; read it! — Defense & Foreign Affairs Special Analysis
  • "Unflinching Zeal is very much recommended [book for those] who seek in-depth history surrounding early World War II.” — The Midwest Book Review
  • Two Roads to War is simply magnificent—just riveting, and I really have enjoyed it. It is a singular contribution to the literature of interwar military aviation, and a work that establishes a new standard for historians studying that period.” — Richard P. Hallion, Aerospace Historian
  • "Higham, a doyen of air power history (100 Years of Air Power and Aviation), makes another significant contribution with this comparative analysis of French and British policies and developments between the world wars.” — Publishers Weekly
  • "Robin Higham’s comparative study of British and French aviation during the interwar period offers a comprehensive and thoughtful portrait of the efforts of two countries to meet the political, military, and industrial challenges posed by a young and rapidly developing technology. Filled with fascinating details, Two Roads to War does not shrink from drawing larger and provocative conclusions about the effectiveness of Britain and France. It is an impressive achievement.” —Talbot Imlay, Université Laval (Québec, Canada), author of Facing the Second World War: Strategy, Politics, and Economics in Britain and France, 1938–1940

Robin Higham was born in the UK and educated there and in the US. He served in the RAF as a pilot. He was the author of numerous books and articles in the field of aviation history. He was a professor of military history at Kansas State University for 50 years.

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