A Complete History of the Luftwaffe 1918 – 1945 by Richard Meredith

The first of three volumes of which I would not be exaggerating in saying that this is the most comprehensive piece of work ever produced about the Luftwaffe which has taken the author over 40 years to produce. Subtitled Volume 1 – The Phoenix is Reborn 1918 – 1934, it is clear from the outset that this is an incredibly thorough job. While its 650 pages are very text heavy, it is broken down into such a way as not to be daunting and its very thorough contents pages break this tome down into manageable sections. This volume not only describes how the Luftwaffe secretly re-built itself during the post-WW1 period, it features are large section on the rise of Hitler during 1933 and 1934.

For the serious researcher, this book and the subsequent volumes are an essential addition to your library and don’t be put off by the price. You must consider the amount of time and effort the author has put into this project and whatever financial return he gained from these books can only make a dent in this true labour of love.  


Information from Casemate:-

‘Based on forty years of detailed research, the Phoenix Project is a unique history of the wartime German Luftwaffe. Going far beyond a simple description of famous air battles and operations the overall work draws extensively on original documents, secondary sources and contemporary accounts to place the Luftwaffe within its proper historical context, gather together its many disparate components and provide a hitherto unpublished balance to its diverse activities.

In addition to the lead role of the combat air forces the history provides a proper emphasis to the largely unsung work of the Anti-Aircraft Artillery, Luftwaffe ground forces, Signals Service and the Medical Services. It also examines in detail the vital work of the huge training organisation and the organisation and role of a continent-wide ground organisation.

All theatres are covered thus placing a much needed emphasis on the Luftwaffe's momentous struggle in the East, a theatre of operations that was always more urgent and more vital to the Wehrmacht. Throughout this work Luftwaffe activities are set within the wider role of overall military operations and Luftwaffe activity is therefore placed back within its proper context in the overall European conflict

Volume 1: The Phoenix Reborn covers a particularly neglected area, specifically the post-war Reichswehr and the years of secrecy leading up to the unveiling of the Luftwaffe in 1935. Much of the key developmental work was completed at this time and the first volume examines the evolution of the uniquely German concept of operativer Luftkrieg, the work of the clandestine air staff and the key roles played by the German Transport Ministry and the Flight Centre Lipetsk in the technical development of military aircraft and the training of military aviators. It shows how Goring and Hitler essentially inherited an air arm in waiting- a product of covert military professional endeavour over a period of fifteen years.

The structure of the Phoenix Project is totally unique. Five major themes run throughout the history's constituent volumes- (A) Strategy and Command, (B) Ministerial Activity, (C) Technology and Production, (D) Infrastructure and Training, and (E) Operations. These divisions enable the reader to pursue particular areas of interest throughout the overall work or to look at the inter-relationships between the various aspects of Luftwaffe activity.’


A very highly recommended serious piece of work. Thanks to Tom Bonnington at Casemate for our review copy which is available from


ISBN: 978-1-910294-5-05

Price: £49.95

Pages: 650

Format: hardback – 250mm x 175mm

Publisher: Helion and Company