Broken Wings

Broken Wings

The Hungarian Air Force, 1918-45
Stephen L. Renner
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 11/14/2016
Format: Hardback 19 b&w illus.
ISBN: 978-0-253-02294-3
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Drawing upon a wealth of previously untranslated documents, Broken Wings tells how a European nation built an entire air force in secret. Carved up and banned from having a military air service after World War I, Hungary became determined to rearm itself. In the early 1920s, Allied inspectors were evaded and obstructed at every turn; great efforts were made to stockpile equipment from the Great War; and the Hungarian government promoted the development of commercial aviation, partly as a front for military flight operations. The clandestine rearmament program could not depend on manufacturing at home but instead secretly accepted whichever planes Italy and Germany would sell them. During the late 1930s, the Hungarian air force went from operating as a secret branch of the army to an independent modernizing force in its own right. Hungarian air power played a great role in a victorious border skirmish with Slovakia in 1939. The cost of the reemergence of the Hungarian air force, however, was heavy: growing Nazi influence over the country, as Germany increasingly supplied aircraft and training. Inevitably, Hungary entered the Second World War on the side of the Axis in 1941, with its air force soon dwindling in independence and effectively becoming a Luftwaffe auxiliary force. Called back home to defend Hungary from incessant Allied bombings, the Hungarian air force ended the Second World War much as they had the First—salvaging aircraft parts from downed invaders and fighting until they no longer had airfields from which to operate.

Author Bio

Stephen Renner is Vice Commander, 355th Fighter Wing, United States Air Force and Professor of Comparative Military Studies at the United States Air Force School of Advanced Air and Space Studies. He is a career A-10 pilot who commanded the 25th Fighter Squadron at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, and has deployed to Bosnia, Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan.


“An outstanding piece of research and writing . . . This study fills a critical gap in our understanding of the development of air arms during the first half of the twentieth century.”
 — John H. Morrow Jr., author of The Great War: An Imperial History

“Drawing upon a wealth of previously untranslated documents, this intriguing story tells how Hungary built an entire air force in secret.”

“Renner’s book is both interesting to read, and holds lessons applicable to the present. If you are looking for something different which is aviation-related, “Broken Wings,” is a good choice.”
 — Daily News

“"This book is a notable achievement. Renner brings to light the story of a small but determined military aviation force, operating under extreme limitations, which tried to do its duty in turbulent times."”
 — Cambridge Core

    "The book deserves the highest praise for bringing a hitherto understudied aspect of aviation and Hungarian history to English language readers."”
     — Journal of Military History

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    Table of Contents

    Note on Sources and Translation
    List of Abbreviations
    1. Legacy: 1811-1918
    2. Upheaval: 1918-1919
    3. Evasion: 1920-1927
    4. Theory: 1927-1937
    5. Reality: 1927-1937
    6. Independence: 1938-1940
    7. War: 1941-1945

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