Under radar

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Another step towards World War II was made when Nazi leader Adolf Hitler secretly authorised the founding of the German airforce, the Luftwaffe on 26 February 1935. The airforce contravened the Versailles Treaty that forbade a German military airforce. World War I air ace and long-term Hitler crony Hermann Göring was appointed Luftwaffe commander in chief.

Hitler had made Göring Minister for Aviation on 27 April 1933 and it’s likely planning for the rebuilding of the German airforce began then. Lufthansa, the German civilian airline, founded in 1926, trained the men who became Luftwaffe pilots.

One of the new planes, the Me-109, was tested in combat in 1937 in the Spanish civil war. The Luftwaffe had 1000 bombers and 1050 pilots by the time Germany started World War II on 1 September 1939. The Luftwaffe was instrumental in the Nazi’s lightening attack of extreme speed by troops in vehicles, such as tanks, supported by planes.

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