Typical bomb damage in the Eilbek district of Hamburg, 1944 or 1945.

The British War in the Air

Third Phase

VIEWED in the perspective of history, the year 1941 will probably be judged to have reserved its most important event, vitally affecting the fortune of war by air, land and sea, until near its close.[i] That event was the entry of the United States into the conflict as a full belligerent. The casus belli was itself an act of air warfare -- as treacherous an act, and as effective for the moment, as Germany's blow at Poland on September 1, 1939. Japan's sudden stroke from the air at the American naval and air forces at Pearl Harbor on December 7 was a crime. It was also a blunder. The losses inflicted, grievous as they were, were perhaps the lowest price necessary for bringing the vast American nation as a grimly determined unit into the struggle for freedom. The tremendous tidings from the west in the fateful days from December 7 to 11 were dimmed for British ears by the shattering reverberation of the sinking of the Prince of Wales and the Repulse on December 10 -- again an epochal event of the war in the air. But it was not that disaster which even then mattered most. The far greater event was the crossing by the United States of the last interval between peace and war.

The year 1941 had already been notable in the annals of air warfare. The one before had had as its outstanding feature the defeat of the Luftwaffe by the Royal Air Force over and around Great Britain in the months of August and September. The next phase of the war in the air opened with another triumph. It was won far from the scene of the first, in the northeastern corner of Africa and over the eastern Mediterranean. There, in the period from November 1940 to February 1941, the British, South African, Australian and Rhodesian airmen practically drove the Italian airmen out of the sky. Never has any air force of an important Power been so roughly handled as was the Regia Aeronautica. Alike in

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