Warriors and Wizards: the Development and Defeat of Radio Controlled Glide Bombs of the Third Reich
Warriors and Wizards: the Development and Defeat of Radio Controlled Glide Bombs of the Third Reich, Martin G. Bollinger, 2010, ISBN 1591140676, 320 pp.
World War II, aside from the deaths of tens of millions of people, saw many developments—many noble and a few ignoble. Intentional and systematic bombing of non-combatants, the hyper-development of winged aviation, the introduction of rotary winged aviation, plastic surgery, radar, sonar, nuclear weapons, missiles and guided munitions.
Both the Allies and the Axis developed guided weapons since antiaircraft defenses were improving at a greater rate than aerial attack options. Essentially, if the target was in range of the aircraft then the aircraft was in range of the target’s anti-aircraft artillery (AAA). Successful weapons systems most often avoid fairness, or the concept of the sparring, and for one year the Axis had radio controlled glide bombs (winged bombs) which kept the delivering aircraft out of the AAA range of the targeted shipping. These bombs (the anti armored ship Ruhrstahl Fritz-X and the anti-ship rocket powered Henschel Hs 293) reigned for a year until the Allies developed countermeasures and better defensive strategies. The story is fascinating for its impelling nature and urgency as these glide bombs greatly endangered warships supporting invasions—invasions planned for Italy and France—required for the Allies to prevail over the Axis powers.
Bollinger writes well of the perspectives of both sides of this newly dawned age of aerial warfare. No longer would dive bombers, fighters and torpedo bombers require large numbers and fantastic coordination to achieve success against capital warships. No longer would AAA be a threat against attacking bombers. Soon, like aircraft carrier warfare, the belligerents would not see each other in combat. He invitingly describes the details and thinking of the time, a time when both sides were desperately exploring this new dimension of warfare.