On September 1, 1939, as the ground forces of Nazi Germany swept into Poland and precipitated World War II, bombers of the Luftwaffe, the German air force, conducted the war’s first air strikes.  During the next year, the Luftwaffe played a principal role in the German Blitzkrieg conquest of almost all of Western Europe. These early successes spurred the perception that the German war machine, including the Luftwaffe, was invincible.

Yet less than six years later, despite having produced extraordinarily advanced aircraft and weaponry, Germany lay totally defeated, its cities in ruins, and its air force destroyed as an effective instrument of war.

The story of the rise and fall of the Luftwaffe illustrates not only the effective use of airpower and expansion of industrial output under difficult conditions, but also the effects of faulty military strategy and mismanagement of aircraft development programs. It also underscores the consequences of the German belief that advanced technology could prevent defeat in the face of overwhelming Allied numerical and material superiority.

Location in Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA
World War II German Aviation
Map of Udvar-Hazy Center highlighting the display in the main hanger, left of center.
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Related Topics: Aviation Aircraft Military aviation War and Conflict Weapons World War II

In this Exhibit

Search the Collection Arado Ar 234 B-2 Blitz (Lightning) Object Dornier Do 335 A-0 Pfeil (Arrow) Object Focke-Wulf Fw 190 F-8/R1 Object
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