Course Curriculum

    1. Warfare Mastery Intro Trailer

    2. Course Introduction, Overview and Updates

    3. Path to Warfare Mastery Learning Guide

    1. Introduction, Overview and Updates

    2. Combined Bomber Offensive: Advance Summary

    3. Combined Bomber Offensive: Pattern Analysis

    4. Combined Bomber Offensive PDF Book Version

    5. Combined Bomber Offensive: 10-Question Basic Quiz

    6. Combined Bomber Offensive: 10-Question Challenge Quiz

    7. Combined Bomber Offensive: 50-Question Challenge Quiz

    1. Introduction, Overview and Updates

    2. Battle of Britain Vignette (Slideshow Version)

    3. Battle of Britain Vignette (Video Version)

    4. Battle of Britain Vignette (Audio Version)

    5. Battle of Britain Vignette Quiz

    1. Course In-Development Placeholder

About this course

  • Included in Membership
  • 14 Lessons
  • Evolving Course - More lessons in development

Course Description

This case topic which will cover the European Air War from 1939-1945 during the Second World War. The European Air War has received a great deal of attention over the years, particularly the Battle of Britain and the Combined Bomber Offensive. This work will build upon and augment the existing body of literature, particularly by adding informative maps and graphics that help learners understand how events unfolded. We also hope to explore certain subjects that are not covered as frequently, such as the evolution of close air support doctrine. An examination of such themes provides valuable lessons for military scholars and professionals alike and has many applications to the modern battlefield. The European Air War provides no shortage of subtopics for more detailed “case studies” and we plan to release a series of more detailed case study courses under the umbrella of this case topic in the future. For more information on our approach to dividing case topics from case studies click HERE.

Below is our general “roadmap” for building out the case topic project. As with all of our learning materials, we intend this case topic to be a series of “living” resources and documents that we will constantly improve, refine and upgrade over time with the help of our readers and scholar community (for more information about how we create “living” learning content click HERE). This general roadmap will offer an outline or structure that our writers, contributors and community members can use to develop new content and incorporate it into the larger body of learning materials. While the structure can and will evolve over time, we chose to start by focusing on the following themes.

Theme 1: Strategic Bombing and Targeting

The primary focus of the European Air War, on both sides, was trying to figure out ways to bomb the enemy into submission. As the war began, most interwar predictions about the effects of bombing proved to be entirely inaccurate. The remainder of the air war became the story of a slow learning process about the true nature of strategic bombing and the best ways to use it to make an effective contribution to the overall war effort. This problem in many ways boiled down to a single concept: targeting. The key question was what targets to bomb and why. This case topic will examine how each side attempted to answer this question at various points in the war as well as the tactics and technology they used to execute the bombing missions themselves.

Theme 2: Integrated Air Defense

There are two sides to every coin and the flip side of strategic bombing is integrated air defense. So, if the primary focus of the air war was effectively bombing the enemy, it was equally necessary to figure out how to stop the enemy from doing the same thing. The story of integrated air defense begins with Britain's valiant efforts to push back the German onslaught in 1940, but the Germans would soon find themselves applying many of the same tactics and lessons to defend the Reich against Allied bombers that came by day and night with increasingly effective results. This course will examine the tactics that both sides used to defend their airspace and identify the most effective methods of combining sensors, early warning networks, command and control procedures, fighter intercept, combat air patrols and anti-aircraft artillery.

Theme 3: Close Support for Ground Forces

While in many ways not as glamorous as the epic clashes between bombers and fighters at high-altitude, the evolution of ground-attack and Close Air Support (CAS) to front line troops was a critical part of the European Air War story. While the Germans started out having devoted more attention to CAS during the interwar period, the actual application of CAS in real-world combat proved to be a challenging and turbulent learning experience for both sides. This case topic will identify CAS best-practices and critical errors at various points during the war. The story of the evolution of CAS capabilities on both sides is a story of battlefield learning and adaptation under fire which has wide-ranging relevance for all domains of conflict, not just air warfare.

Theme 4: Aircraft and Weapons Technology

The case topic will look at the various aircraft and weapons on both sides that squared off against each other over Europe. In addition to providing reference materials about the performance and capabilities of each aircraft, we will focus on technological innovations in a "move-countermove" context. Many innovative technological solutions during the war emerged as deliberate counters to an enemy advantage. Such innovations in turn required the enemy to adapt. Key mistakes in technological focus and unexpected creative solutions tipped the balance of the conflict one way or the other. This case topic will seek to highlight such points to better understand their significance and relevance to future conflicts.

Theme 5: Leaders, Aces and Organizational Culture

The story of how leaders and organizational culture influenced the European Air War is not a simple one. When compared with other theaters or domains, the disparity between good leaders and bad leaders in the air war over Europe is particularly extreme. There are many examples of brilliant leaders making good decisions but an equal number of completely incompetent leaders making decisions that were completely irrational. Comparing and contrasting such examples of good and bad leadership, good and bad planning, good and bad decisions is fertile ground for military learning and professional development. As in all theaters, aces on both sides played a disproportionately important role in turning the tide of battle. It is both interesting and useful to study such individuals, their traits, mindset and attributes to better understand what made them more effective than their counterparts.

Theme 6: Tactics and Air Combat

The tactical level of warfare is in many ways the most neglected area in books and learning materials. However, the details of how individual combatants found ways to win tactical engagements is extremely relevant to the study of warfare at all levels. Tactics are where the “rubber meets the road.” Without sound tactics, it is difficult for any military force to win on the battlefield. This case topic will therefore study the specifics of air combat tactics, how tactical techniques evolved on both sides and how they contributed to success or failure in the air. In short, this case topic will not just teach you about the events that took place in the air war over Europe but rather try to place you “in the cockpit” to show you how to fight, win and survive as a fighter pilot or bomber pilot.

About the Instructor

Warfare Mastery Institute

At the Warfare Master Institute (WMI), our team of interservice combat veterans and military scholars are constantly seeking new and innovative approaches to learning the art and science of warfare. Our focus is on developing, community-based online courses that constantly evolve and improve over time based on user feedback. Our courses employ unconventional learning methods, cutting edge graphics and interactive multimedia content focused on military history, technology, strategy, operations and tactics.


The first 1000 members will get honorary "Plank Owner" certificates and complimentary access to the Special Tactics Infantry Rural Combat Course


Sign up as a plank owner and get total access to all of the courses below as well as all future WMI courses