Thursday, November 18, 2021

Air Battle for Moscow 1941–1942 by Dmitry Degtev and Dmitry Zubov

 In many ways this volume is a missed opportunity. The authors are certainly knowledgeable and have access to numerous archives to help with understanding the dynamics of the air war for Moscow, but they do not necessarily wield that knowledge in a reader-friendly way. In truth, this book could have been a third as long (216 pages of text with numerous photos, tables, and charts) and presented the same arguments with the same information with all the superfluous fluff cut out.

Basically, what readers should expect to find in these pages is a list of bombing raids against Moscow and its environs as well as cities and settlements in the Moscow region. Moreover, the authors present information on the main Soviet defensive formations and their German counterparts. Instead of offering insight into the strengths and weaknesses of both sides (including equipment, training, logistics, etc.) the authors are more interested in listing claims by both sides and then immediately follow up by writing what the archives support and what they are silent about. Thus, the Soviets make numerous claims about downing a variety of German planes and the authors then discuss what German archives support in terms of planes lost for that day and in that specific region of the front. It's interesting information but can readily be confined to a few tables/charts instead of being spelled out for dozens of pages. Additionally, the authors take their time describing the numerous bombing raids made by single or a few bombers against Moscow and the resulting killed and wounded as well as damage inflicted to Moscow buildings, factories, and infrastructure. Readers will have to dig for more interesting information that discusses Soviet weaknesses (the amount of time fighters could spend in the air before having to return to base, for instance) or better understanding the impact of Lend Lease airplanes, etc. Some of that information is there but it should be more readily highlighted and better contextualized rather than offered as side commentary. Finally, the biggest weakness of this volume is a lack of footnotes/endnotes. Researchers, scholars, and historians will be hard pressed to find this volume of benefit as they will never know where specific information is coming from. This very much undermines any lasting value of this volume.

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