Edited by David R. Jones
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Volume 6 Introduction
As a glance at the table of contents indicates, this volume of MERE deals largely with the series of "aerial blockades" mounted by the Red Air Forces against German attempts to employ their air transports for the supply of encircled troop formations during 1942 to 1945. These entries not only complement and flesh out the theoretical entry on the "aerial blockade" that concluded volume 5, but they provide the first comprehensive account of these efforts available in any language, Russian included.
True, the Luftwaffe's side of the story has been recounted in some of the studies of published by the United States Air Force during the 1960s, and most notably by that of General D. Fritz Morzik, the last chief of the Luftwaffe's Air Transport Command. Otherwise, of the air conflicts discussed below, only that of Stalingrad has received serious attention and again, for the most part only from the German point of view. But in each case, the organization and implementation of the Luftwaffe's airlift was only one side of the coin, and the Red Air Forces' countermeasures were of equal importance. Further, as the introductory entry on the "Conduct of Aerial Blockades, 1941-1945" indicates, the Soviet command's proficiency and ability to mount such opposition increased dramatically after the initial failure at Demiansk-Kholm in early 1942.
At this point, the method of selecting the events discussed in these entries deserves comment. In the Soviet/Russian literature on this subject, authors draw a distinction between "aerial blockades" (e.g., Demiansk, Stalingrad, etc.) and the aerial measures implemented as part of an "encirclement" operation (Bobrinsk, Yassy-Kishinev, etc.). While these frequently are similar in their tactical content, the term "blockade" usually involves the application of such measures on a larger temporal and more massive, in terms of the forces involved, scale. The entries that follow the two introductory discussions (one in MERE 5) therefore examine each of the "aerial blockades" that have been designated as such in Soviet/Russian discussions, the marginal case of Poznan included. In terms of the entries as such, each of these examples is considered from the point of view of the Luftwaffe's supply operation and its goals, and then in those of the measures adopted by the Red Air, Air Defense and Ground Forces to forestall this operation. Each then concludes with an assessment of the success of both the German effort and the Russian counter-effort. In this way the entries also seek to provide examples of the manner in which the Red Army's General Staff sought to extract the "lessons learned" from an action in the latter's immediate aftermath, and than rapidly assimilated these conclusions within its tactical and operational procedures.
Finally, it once again remains for me to thank all those who have aided me in preparing the entries in this volume. In particular, gratitude is owed to Mary-Jane Crittenden, Neil Tabot and Michael Plunkett of Pensacola Beach for their hospitality in providing me with a place to work away from the normal bustle of institutional life, and to Graham Lavers of Halifax, N.S., for his aid in preparing the illustrations. Otherwise, although I myself as editor have prepared all entries specifically for this volume of MERE, I have had the benefit of the advice and support of numerous colleagues in this task. Of course, the inevitable errors and lacunae in what follows are, as always, entirely my own and I hope that those with comments or additional information (which will permit corrections in supplementary volumes), or those who wish to contribute to future volumes, will contact me either via the publisher, or directly at the address below.
David R. Jones
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