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The brilliantly designed and deadly fighters of the World War II German Air Force are examined in detail in this installment of Discovery Channel's Wings Collection. Focusing on three particular planes--the FW 190, the Messerschmitt ME109, and the world's first operational jet fighter, the Messerschmitt 262--the documentary gives the history of each and details how they were strategically deployed. Making an intelligent digression to the early days of military aviation, museum specimens of German fighters from World War I are shown to illustrate how German engineers pioneered advances in single-seat fighters. In the 1930s, Germany was forbidden by the terms of the Armistice to develop military aviation, but the Nazi war machine began to build up a new generation of fighters in secret. And when war broke out, the Germans had two excellent fighter planes, the FW 190 and the Messerschmitt 109, ready to wage formidable air battles with the Allies. This video demonstrates through archival footage and articulate narration how those two planes were used effectively in such actions as the Battle of Britain and in Germany's ferocious defense of its cities against the crushing Allied bomber formations. A fine job is also done showing how German designers struggled to make an operational jet fighter that, if it had been deployed earlier, might have affected the course of the war. This is an insightful look at the planes that essentially defined the Luftwaffe in World War II. --Robert J. McNamara
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