Engineers of Victory: The Problem Solvers who Turned the Tide in the Second World War

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Actually the engines were imported by Fairey, later well known as the builders of the Swordfish Biplane.

Engineers of Victory - The Problem Solvers who Turned the Tide in the Second World War

Regardless, the Merlin is not a copy of the D but rather a much more advanced engine that was in part influenced by the D, as were many other European aircraft engines. He then tells a story of how an RAF test pilot suggested that the P would be improved by the substitution of a Merlin engine, after which clever RAF mechanics slipped one in, the engine compartment of the P coincidentally being just the right size for the Merlin. The Ircraft had already been tested with both the Packard and Merlin engines at Wright Field, long before any aircraft reached England. The US Army initially chose the Packard in order to simplify the supply chain but quickly came around to the choice of the supercharged Merlin once the RAF showed its superiority.

In his chapter on amphibious assault, Kennedy states that the "Cockleshell Heroes" arrived at Gironde in midget submarines. What he's referring to is Operation Frankton,in which commandos were delivered offshore via submarine not a midget submarines and paddled folding canoes nicknamed "cockles" into the Gironde estuary. When he finally gets around to discussing technology, Kennedy does manage to devote a few paragraphs to the specialized mine clearing and bridging tanks known as "Hobart's funnies" but never touches on the most important technological innovation of the invasions, the specialized landing craft used to deliver men and machinery to the beaches.

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Whole volumes have been written about the role played by these craft but they seem to have escaped the author's notice. The Higgins boat get a one sentence reference in a later chapter. Neither is their any mention of PLUTO, the cross-channel pipeline developed to supply the invading force with fuel. Kennedy does mention the Mullberries, the artificial harbors towed across the channel, but than says they were erected by Seabees, which is incorrect, as others note.

A great many critically important scientific and engineering advances never get mentioned at all. Kennedy credits allied success in the Battle of the Phillipine Sea aka the Great Marianas Turkey Shoot to US aircraft superiority, but an even more important factor was the combination of radar guided antiaircraft guns firing shells equipped with radar proximity fuzes that protected the Allied ships and allowed for unprecedented success in shooting down attacking aircraft.

Those same proximity fuzes were a massive force multiplier in the European theater, making US artillery far more effective than German artillery, which was impact fused, but no mention is made of this, either. There is much in the book that is both accurate and interesting, but unfortunately ths is outweighed by the scores of historic and technological errors and omissions that abound.

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Add to that the fact that it doesn't actually live up to its title and discuss the technology that contributed to victory or those engineers behind the technology, and I cannot by any means recommend this book. August 13, - Published on Amazon. I recently read this book in preparation for my PhD comprehensive exams, and I am very glad I did.

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Some of these brief counter examples are drawn from early periods in history Roman era Mediterranean anti-piracy operations as a preface to Atlantic convoys, for example , but more detailed examples are taken from engagements fought earlier in the war. Thus, the failed German attempt to gain command of the air in the Battle of Britain serves as a foil to the Allied air campaign three years later, and, naturally, Dieppe serves as a useful example of how not to prepare for an amphibious landing on an opposed shore.

At times, Kennedy appears to segue from his own question. His identification of the Junkers Ju a transport aircraft and Messerschmitt Bf as medium bombers playing key roles in the Battle of Britain, for example, leaves the reader puzzled as to the depth of his research. That misidentification of the Bf is particularly unfortunate, as it represents a missed opportunity to highlight the implications of the successful development of the P Mustang as a long range escort fighter for the prosecution of the air war over Germany.

While there were fighter-bomber variants of the Bf, that aircraft was originally developed as a long-range fighter, and, as such, when it was used over England as a bomber escort, it proved a failure due to the limitations of its design in the context of aerial combat in that theatre. A comparison of the two aircraft development projects could then have further underlined his theme of successfully matching people, concepts, and technology as key to tipping the balance in war.

Engineers of Victory: The Making of the War Machine That Defeated the Nazis by Paul Kennedy

This variation in style is probably an appropriate accompaniment to the variation in the scope of the issues the author combines in his study. Few people realize that North American Aviation originally designed its famed P Mustang with an underpowered engine that limited its usefulness as a combat fighter. That changed when a British test pilot by the name of Ronnie Harker suggested outfitting it with the more powerful Rolls-Royce Merlin In Engineers of Victory author Paul Kennedy argues that in wartime such small changes can have a big impact.

He highlights five situations—the Battle of the Atlantic, the air war, defeat of a blitzkrieg, invasion of an enemy shore and the obstacle of distance—to explain how Allied military forces combined engineering know-how with better tactics to gain the advantage during World War II.