Thursday, 10 November 2022

"To Save an Army - the Stalingrad airlift " by Robert Forsyth - new Luftwaffe book review

 



 Nearly eighty years ago, on 19 November 1942, the Russians launched a counter-offensive that quickly surrounded the city of Stalingrad, the objective of Hitler's summer 1942 campaign in the East. Trapped inside the resulting 'Kessel' or pocket or were some 300,000 troops of the German 6.Armee and their Allies. Hitler was determined to hold the city and 6. Armee commander Generaloberst Friedrich Paulus waited in vain for a response to his requests for 'freedom of action'. The result was a catastrophe for the Wehrmacht. Just ten weeks later  only 91,000 German troops in the pocket were still alive of which just 6,000 men returned from Soviet captivity. The encirclement force  -'Operation Uranus' - had comprised three complete Soviet armies, the 1st Guard, the 5th Tank and 21st Army. Outnumbered and poorly equipped, the Rumanian 3. Armee which held the German 6. Armee's northern flank managed to hold on for most of that first day before being shattered. The next day a second Soviet Offensive was launched to the south of Stalingrad against the Rumanian 4. Armee. which collapsed. The tips of the two Soviet pincers quickly met at Kalach-on-Don just to the west of Stalingrad sealing the ring. Immediate German preparations for a 'break-out' to the south-west towards 4. Panzerarmee were well underway when the order 'no withdrawal' arrived. To the north-east of the pocket v. Seylich-Kurzbach (CO L1. Armeekorps) had already authorised his divsions to pull back from their well-constructed winter positions.  

While the ground troops fought to 'stabilise' the front - the Russians having been alive to German preparations for withdrawal - German commanders hastily drew up plans to mount an 'airlift'. This 'operation' is the focus of this excellent new account from Robert Forsyth for Osprey. As an 'operation' the story of the airlift has never been 'properly' told in English (Kurowski's 'Luftbrücke Stalingrad' - one of his better works - has not been translated, while both Bergstrom and Hayward focus on the 'Blau' campaign in its entirety). The absence of a 'proper' account in English may be explained by - may even be the result of - viewing the airlift very much as a ‘passive’ operation: that is to say there are no ‘guns blazing’. The much-vaunted 'achievements' of the Luftwaffe fighter aces are only 'represented' at Stalingrad through the efforts of the very small 'airfield protection' unit detached from JG 3 set up at Pitomnik.

Yet, as the author explains in his introduction the story is a 'dynamic' one - the airlift at Stalingrad was played out against a backdrop of appalling weather as the clock ticked down on the poor souls trapped in the ever-shrinking 'pocket' as the airfields at Pitomnik and Gumrak were finally lost, while German commanders vied with each other in ambition, ineptitude ..and recriminations. Wolfram v. Richthofen, the commander of VIII Fliegerkorps - whose diaries and documents form the basis for this book -is particularly dismissive of the 'Sonderstab Milch'- an episode that this reviewer was largely unfamiliar with. Secretary of State GFM Milch was dispatched to Russia in mid-January to 'energise' the airlift but succeeeded only in exasperating the senior commanders - 'too many cooks' - and getting himself seriously injured in a car crash, hit by a Russian locomotive while attempting to drive across a railway line.

The story is also founded to a significant degree on the writings and letters of Martin Fiebig, the Flak general Wolfgang Pickert, the senior Luftwaffe officer in the Kessel awarded the Ritterkreuz for his support of 6.Armee, papers from the Milch Sonderstab, plus the recollections of a senior medical officer of Luftflotte 4, as well as reports prepared by field commanders such as Förster, Kühl and Willers etc. It is a story told very much from the ‘top down’ by the decision-makers rather than from unit-level up. At times they seem almost incapable of processing the magnitude and scale of the task which Hitler had blithely assigned them. Why were combat aircrat able to take off and the transports not? Because the bigger machines had to be dug out of the snowdrifts with winds blowing at 90 km/h and temperatures at -12°C!  Paulus had to dispatch a 'special-envoy' to the 'Wolfschanze' to explain, among other things that the figures for aircraft being declared 'Kesselklar' and 'Einsatzbereit' bore little relation to the numbers of machines flying into the city. Nobody seemed to realise that the daily requirements of bread alone were forty tons!

Earlier in 1942 the 'successful' resupply efforts mounted at Demyansk and Cholm had set 'dangerous precedents' (chapter 2)  and expectations for this type of 'operation'. Encircled German armies had been kept largely resupplied from the air.  But as the author describes, air transport and the resupply of far-flung armies " had become something of a blind spot in Luftwaffe operational thinking". Indeed the Luftwaffe's transport force had no autonomous command and no functional or operational infrastructure. It was an indication of how ill-prepared the Luftwaffe was for war that, in order to optimise usage, the Junkers Ju 52 served both in the air transport and bomber pilot training roles. Blitzkrieg meant short rapid offensives but as the Wehrmacht's campaigns became more drawn out and the Germans suffered their first reverses "the transport side of the system began to break down.." as the allocation of transports to the various Luftflotten became insufficient for the demands placed upon them. To some, the efforts of He 111 bomber crews in dropping containers of bread at Demyansk and Cholm had taken on the appearance of an 'humanitarian relief effort' rather than demonstrating any serious air transport capability. The fact is the Ju 52 transport force did not have enough stowage capacity and was under immense strain - elsewhere the Germans in North Africa were just a few months away from capitulation because of logistics.. Indeed production of the Ju 52 had been cut right back in favour of the development of newer types just at the wrong time- pressing Heinkel bombers into service as transports might boost the numbers of aircraft committed to an operation but not necessarily its effectiveness. Similarly the author makes the point that without their own command even the higest-ranking transport officers were merely the recipient of orders from elsewhere and rarely consulted as to the feasibility of large scale transport operations.

The same scenario was played out over Stalingrad. The aim was to keep 6. Armee functioning as a fighting force - some 500 tons of rations and ammunition were required each day as a minimum.  It was a hopeless task and the Luftwaffe failed disastrously. Even had they succeeded and ever come close to the '500 tons' the author doubts whether the outcome would have been any different. Aircraft were dug up from all sorts of commands and sent east in a completely ad-hoc fashion. In addition to the Ju 52s and He 111 bombers, random types - including training school Ju 86s - were pressed into service as makeshift 'transports'. Major Willers, CO of the adhoc Fw 200 unit detached from KG 40, wrote;

" ..working on the aircraft in snowstorms without any protection was hopeless. On several occasions we had to use the heater carts to thaw out the mechanics who had become frozen to the aircraft with their wrenches in their hands...[..].. it was an extreme process of acclimatisation to go from 20°C in Bordeaux to -30°C in Stalino and Zaporozhye.."

According to the author the Condors were relatively effective at Stalingrad. Used to ranging out over the Atlantic, their crews were skilled in flying and navigating in poor weather and even when over-loaded the competence of the crews in alighting the heavy machines on the snow reduced the potential for damage, despite the fragility of the Condor's landing gear. Ultimately though there were only eighteen of them and Stalino - 500 km from Stalingrad - had no hangars or other infrastructure to accomodate them.

While the Condors were large - the type was essentially a pre-war civil airliner - the Luftwaffe in desperation deployed even larger aircraft. The biggest machine in the Luftwaffe's inventory was the Junkers Ju 290 V1 - an untried type with a wingspan some four metres greater than that of the Fw 200 Condor, capable in theory of flying in ten tons of rations and flying out some 80 wounded men. The Ju 290 was flown into Stalino by Junkers test pilot Flugkapitän Walter Hänig on 28 December. Other 'giants' sent from Germany included some of the most unreliable, accident-prone and downright dangerous aircraft ever conceived by German engineering. Developed as a new-generation strategic bomber with coupled engines, the Heinkel He 177 had been flying - and catching fire and crashing - since 1939. At one point during 1942 there was only one prototype left flying. The first He 177 bomber Gruppe I./FKG 50 (Fernkampf Geschwader) had already declared the type unfit for operations. In Stalino, Willers decribed the type as 'a marvel of technology but it couldn't fly..'

On the ground in the city, rations became increasingly scanty and ammunition scarce. Meanwhile the harsh winter weather was becoming increasingly bitter with heavy snowfalls hampering any movement and many German soldiers continuing to suffer horrendously with wholly indequate equipment and clothing as Adelbert Holl relates in his memoir 'Als Infanterist in Stalingrad'. On the 'best' day of the airlift - 19 December - 147 aircraft flew in barely 230 tonnes. Sausages from horse meat were available but would soon have to be eaten raw. By 27 December a lack of fodder meant that the Futtermeister were slaughtering even the strongest horses. At night supplies were dropped in canisters, but the Russians lit the same beacons as the Germans and most fell in between the lines, always a heavy blow for troops. While news of 'relief' efforts gave new impetus, it snowed heavily thoughout the day on 24 December which those on the ground recognised would surely impede any efforts. Following the fall of Pitomnik, a rag-tag collection of aircrews and aircraft mounted sorties into the much smaller field at Gumrak, although Soviet decoy operations lured many aircraft to their doom. Of course the flights into the pocket were hazardous for the crews. More harrowing perhaps were the scenes that greeted them at the airfields. He 111s of III./KG 55 flew their first sortie into the pocket on 12 January - as the makeshift transports landed, ragged, ghostly figures appeared out of the gloom, stumbling towards the aircraft, desperate either for food or to board the aircraft. As the hatches opened men were kicked or punched away by the crews as the supplies were quickly thrown out into the snow. Shots were fired into the air in an effort to maintain order. Uffz. Michael Deiml, a flight engineer remembered his 198th sortie;

"..although our aircraft had been seriously damaged on the way in - the tail and rear fuselage had been holed by some fifty AA shells - the machine could still fly! The machine was not a transport but a bomber with bomb bays and supplementary fuel tanks in the interior and we could only fly out eight passengers.."

13 January was a disastrous day for the airlift. Soviet aircraft destroyed 29 aircraft on the ground at Pitomnik. Flugkapitän Hänig attempted to get airborne from the field on the return leg of his second supply flight but as the heavy Ju 290 climbed out of the pocket at 00:45 the aircraft reared up - the cockpit having probably taken a direct hit - and crashed back down into the snow, killing the majority of the 75 wounded aboard, along with the crew. A second Ju 290 sent to Stalingrad made its one and only return flight on the same date - the big aircraft proved to be easy prey for Soviet fighters. The experienced pilot, Maj. Hugo Wiskandt, Staffelkapitän of 1./ KG. z.b.V. 172, managed to return the aircraft to Stalino with no fewer than 123 impacts, ending the type's attempts to supply Stalingrad. (Only four Ju 290s were constructed during the first quarter of 1943). Elsewhere the He 177s made their 'inauspicious' debut in the airlift, carrying too small a load and consuming huge amounts of fuel. Of the 30 He 177s that had flown into Zaporozhye-Süd, ten quickly went unserviceable. Fiebig wrote;

" This type of aircraft does not accomplish anything. They only dropped eight 250 kg containers ..[..] consuming 4,000 litres of fuel for their mission..

Nor could they land because of the risk of being immobilised in the pocket. The Kommandeur, Maj. Kurt Schede, failed to return from his first mission, flown on 16 January. Similarly, plans to use towed gliders to fly in supplies - the Me 321 Gigant could haul 21 tons - were quickly abandoned as being impractical, especially as there were no suitable towing aircraft available.

At Stalingrad the Luftwaffe "had been assigned a gargantuan, draining, horrific,..[..].. infernal task." While most sources differ here, the Luftwaffe lost very nearly 500 aircraft attempting to keep 6. Armee supplied in Stalingrad, virtually five entire Geschwader, along with 1,000 experienced flying personnel. Towards the end of the airlift, the condition of the surviving troops in the pocket was so poor that supplies dropped were not being picked up. The average daily supply drop was always at least 200 tons below the subsistence level to keep 6.Armee functioning. From disrupted flight training back in the Reich to a virtual pause in the war against Allied shipping in the Bay of Biscay, the failure of the airlift had an impact that was felt far beyond Stalingrad. Citino wrote that the Wehrmacht had 'broken itself' at Stalingrad. The abandonment of 6.Armee had a devastating impact on national morale. And the author makes the point that no 'lessons' were learnt either. The Luftwaffe's Transporter would continue to fly resupply missions into 'fortresses', albeit small-scale - the Crimea, encircled cities in East Prussia, ports on the French Atlantic coast - until May 1945.

"To Save an Army - the Stalingrad airlift " by Robert Forsyth is published today, 10 November, by Osprey. Thanks to Elle at Osprey for an advance copy.  'Aeroplane' magazine's 'Book of the month'.





Also on this blog; 


 Adelbert Holl's memoir 'Als Infanterist in Stalingrad' is still available in translation by this blog writer from Leaping Horseman Books...


Below; rare images probably at Pitomnik airfield during the Stalingrad airlift operations, December 1942. (source, expired ebay auctions) "To save an army" features 60 rare photos and profile artworks..













Tuesday, 8 November 2022

Hptm. Helmut Weinreich, Staffelkapitän of 7./KG 30, in front of KG 30 Ju 88 A in early 1943 - Bundesarchiv photo report

 



The crew of the Staffelkapitän of 7./KG 30,  Oblt. Helmut Weinreich, assemble for a commemorative photo series following Weinreich's RK award presentation  (with RK), in front of a KG 30 Ju 88 A-4, possibly the machine flown by the Kommodore "4D+AA" in early 1943. Weinreich flew many sorties against Crete, Malta, Tobruk and Tunisia where this photo sequence was apparently shot according to the BA listing. More likely is Comiso, Sicily.


Above, seen from the left, Bordfunker (radio operator) Johann Grünsteudel, presumably the 1st Wart, Oblt. Weinreich and Fw. Andres? Note the canopy covered with a tarpaulin under which the unit emblem is partially visible. The barrel of the MG/FF 20 mm protrudes from the front of the bola, this weapon had proved its worth in combating shipping targets. 

Following the award of the Knight's Cross on 22 January, 1943, Weinreich was appointed Kommandeur of I./KG 30 - with the rank of Hptm - based in the Far North at the beginning of February 1943 until August 1943. The main task of the Gruppe was anti-shipping against the Allied Murmansk convoys. Apparently due to take up a staff function, he then volunteered for the single-engine night fighter "Wilde Sau" and on 1 October 1943, with simultaneous promotion to Major, became Kommodore of JG 301, then being established. On 18 November 1943 he was able to shoot down a Viermot bomber over Mannheim, but took hits from defensive fire in his FW 190 A-5 WNr.151482. Attempting an emergency landing in Frankfurt am Main, his aircraft crashed and exploded, killing him. Posthumously he was promoted to Obstlt. He had taken his long-time radio operator Johann Grünsteudel with him to JG 301, where Grünsteudel remained until the end of the war.

This Bundesarchiv photo report depicted Weinreich's RK award. Thanks to Michael Meyer for caption assistance. Michael's latest book compiled in collaboration with Paul Stipdonk entitled "German fighters in the West " is published by JaPo this month.





Thursday, 3 November 2022

" To Save an Army " - the Stalingrad airlift by Robert Forsyth - new Luftwaffe book due soon

 


Due this month a new-352 page Osprey hardback by leading Luftwaffe and aviation historian Robert Forsyth that tells the full story of the operation mounted by the Luftwaffe to supply the trapped and exhausted German Sixth Army at Stalingrad as the clock ticked down and the pocket tightened in appalling weather.....battling against a lack of transport capability, worsening serviceability and increasing losses the Luftwaffe fought to maintain a determined presence over the ravaged city on the Volga, even when the last desolate fog-bound and snow-swept airfields of the Kessel (pocket) had been lost.

" We learned from Division that the Russians north-west of us had launched an attack against the Rumanians and broken through along a wide front. This was repeated on 20 November in the south. On 21 November the Regiment learned that the enemy spearheads had met near Kalach-on-Don encircling our 6. Armee. Initially it was a shock for all of us. How could something like this happen? Had those at the top fallen asleep? Were there no German units supporting our Allies. We could find no answers to that. I was convinced though that this Kessel (lit, 'cauldron' or pocket) would not last long. Our command was not born yesterday and would soon break the encirclement.."   

Adelbert Holl in 'An Infantryman in Stalingrad' (Leaping Horseman, trans Jason Mark & Neil Page)

" What could the Führer's idea be? 250,000 men are involved here and we cannot sacrifice them just like that because we cannot replace them. What are the Russians going to do with 250,000 men? They will only drive them into death because they can't feed them..... What does the Führer want to prove by the fate of this army? It must have some meaning...."

 Generalleutnant Martin Fiebig, VIII Fliegerkorps commander, in immediate command of the supply operation to Stalingrad. 



When the German Sixth Army found itself fighting for its life at Stalingrad, Hermann Göring's boast that the Luftwaffe transport force could fly in the necessary relief supplies was quickly found to be hollow. That was one reason why elements of KG 40 came to be in the hostile surroundings of Pitomnik -the other was that the Luftwaffe had a chronic shortage of small transport aircraft, let alone large ones. Heinkel He 111 bombers were pressed into a temporary transport role and four-engined types were thrown into the resupply effort even if they could not lift substantial loads. In reality, the daily tonnage required to sustain General von Paulus and his men was far beyond even the extra capacity that the Luftwaffe found.

 Eighteen Fw 200s of 1. and 3./KG 40 flew into Stalino in early January 1943, the unit flying its first operation on 9 January 1943. Given the temporary designation Kampfgruppe zur besonderen Verwendung 200, this force under Maj Hans-Jürgen Williers, flew their first sorties into the Kessel on 9 January, off-loading some 36 tons of supplies and evacuating 156 wounded troops. But Stalino was 500 kms from Stalingrad and the base had no facilities for large four-engine types. Russian pressure was such that the unit soon reverted to air drops by parachute, each Condor carrying four containers under the wings.  

Serviceability of the large aircraft was complicated by the lack of infrastructure and the appalling weather conditions and the type remained a rare sight in the skies over Stalingrad. 

With Stalingrad all but lost to the Germans, KGr.zb.V 200 was transferred to Zaporozhye and in total the Condors flew some 41 resupply sorties before the collapse. In addition they flew 35 transport missions over the Crimea before being withdrawn back to Berlin-Staaken in February. Those aircraft that returned to Germany - nine Fw 200s having been lost in Russia - were amalgamated into a new 8./KG 40 based at Bordeaux-Merignac under Luftflotte 3.






Sunday, 30 October 2022

Saturday, 29 October 2022

Focke Wulf Fw 190 D-11 Platzschutzstaffel - IBG Models latest release and an updated list of documented airframes

The latest IBG models 72nd scale Fw 190 Doras are released  - the new box features two kits including options to build a rare Dora variant, the D-11.


The D-11 variant of the Focke-Wulf 190 was designed as an interceptor fighter, incorporating many of the features found on the Ta 152.  Developed around the A-8 airframe, the D-11 was powered by a new MW- 50 boosted 35-litre Jumo 213 F inverted V 12 engine rated at 2060 hp for take-off. The sturdier mountings for this powerful engine resulted in a slight bulging of the previously smooth contours of the engine cowling.  Armament was also changed from the D-9; the two cowl-mounted MG 131 machine guns were deleted which made for a refined upper cowl shape. The 20-mm MG 151/20s in the wing roots were retained. The enlarged Ta 152-type supercharger intake on the starboard side of the cowling and the VS 10 paddle-bladed propeller assembly were further characteristics of this sub-type. In addition a 30-mm MK 108 cannon could be installed in each of the outer wing stations, the new spinner also being prepared for the later installation of a further MK 108 or MG 151 firing through the engine camshaft. 

Two rare views of Fw 190 D-11 'Red 4' WNr. 220010  - as featured in the new IBG Models Dora box art - from the well-known München-Riem control tower line-up . 'Red 4' featured the "Der nachste Herr die selbe Dame!" slogan. 


 


There are only seven (maybe eight) known/documented Fw 190 D-11 aircraft out of some twenty produced. These were manufactured exclusively at the Focke Wulf Sorau factory in the WNr. 220 series and are listed here below in chronological Werknummer order from those known. In the final weeks of the war these machines were gathered together in southern Germany in the Verbandsführerschule General der Jagdflieger (VFS-GdJ – a training school for unit leaders) although the reasons for this are unclear. It has been suggested that as all other units using Doras were front-line there were only limited possibilities to work on these new machines and given their limited number they were assembled in a non-combat unit where Focke-Wulf technicians could spend time on their maintenance and testing. When the VFS-GdJ was finally disbanded these machines were assigned to other units, most notably JV 44, JGr 10 and JG 101. 2./JGr 10 Dora-11’s were equipped with R4M rocket launching rails under the wings in place of the outer wing cannon. JG 101 did not use its Doras in action prior to its disbandment under Kommandeur Maj. Hans Knauth on April 16, 1945.

220000, White Chevron 53, VFS-GdJ, Bad Wörishofen
220009, White Double Chevron, VFS-GdJ, Bad Wörishofen
220010, White Chevron 58, VFS-GdJ, 'Red 4', JV 44, Munich-Riem
220011, White Chevron 57, VFS-GdJ, Bad Wörishofen, 
22001?  White Chevron 57  R4Ms  at Schongau JG 101 ("Does this machine have any correlation with WNr 220011  found less than 30 kms away? ")
220012, White Double Chevron + Bar, VFS-GdJ, Salzburg-Maxglan, pos. Major Günther Rall
220013, White Chevron ??, VFS-GdJ, 'Red 2', JV 44, found at Bad Aibling  (JV 44 crest but no inscription)
220014, White Chevron 61, VFS-GdJ, Bad Wörishofen

(with thanks to David E. Brown)

also on this blog;



An extensive Fw 190 Dora feature by this blog writer is published in the next issue (No. 91) of Aerojournal magazine with new personal accounts and rare images. (French language text)

D-11 WNr. 220011, White Chevron 57, VFS-GdJ, Bad Wörishofen



Monday, 24 October 2022

A history of Küstenfliegergruppe 806 - new Air War Publications eArticle

 


AWP have a new eArticle by Adam Thompson available to download. Küstenfliegergruppe 806 was established in the autumn of 1939 as a maritime unit operating a mix of seaplanes and land-based aircraft, serving with the German naval air service. However, the requirements of an expanding war meant that by the summer of 1940, it had transformed into a conventional Luftwaffe bomber unit flying the Junkers 88 under the new designation of Kampfgruppe 806. Between July 1940 and August 1942 the Ju 88s of KGr. 806 would serve successfully over Britain, the Eastern Front, and finally, the Mediterranean, against a variety of targets on land and at sea. The article is 22 pages, contains 21 photos (one in colour), two colour maps and several first-hand accounts from the men involved on both sides. For those Luftwaffe enthusiasts who enjoy reading about maritime operations and bomber units. Ready to purchase and download from the AWP site here

 

And if rare personal accounts are of interest, a reminder that this blog author's own contribution to the Air War Publications catalogue of eArticles features some fascinating stories from the Luftwaffe single-engine night fighter force. Entitled 'Wilde Sau und Moskitojagd', two former 'wilde Sau' pilots of JG 302 and I./NJG 11 describe some of their hair-raising experiences at the controls of their Me 109s at night in the cloud-banked and freezing skies over Germany during the winters of 1943 and 1944. For the price of a cup of coffee, this eArticle features rare photos, accounts and some exclusive Anders Hjortsberg artwork in a 19-page PDF format for your device or printer and can be downloaded here



Sunday, 23 October 2022

'Messerschmitt Me 262 - Development and Politics' by Dan Sharp (Mortons) - new Luftwaffe books

 


Available now from UK publisher Mortons is this significant new work on the Me 262 by Dan Sharp. This is not the previously announced "Secret Projects of the Luftwaffe Vol. 3: Messerschmitt Me 262" which was planned to focus squarely on the 'secret projects' and sub-variants of the type.  Nor is it a book about combat ops or even a book where every page looks familiar because the reader has already seen the images a dozen times elsewhere. In fact, this is really a book for people who've read the Me 262 story elsewhere - probably different, conflicting versions of that story - and wondered which was the definitive version. As Dan points out, up to this point there probably hasn't been a 'definitive' version. So the small-ish and small format soft-back of the 'Secret Projects..' series has become a new and much larger work as the author explained;

" ..the further I went into the primary source material the more apparent it became that the truth about what happened to the Me 262 throughout its development diverged somewhat from all existing written accounts. As a result, I expanded the book to encompass all aspects of the aircraft's development - the projects, the sub-variants, the prototypes and the full production variants - as well as the discussions that went on about them. The book went from 30,000 words to 160,000 words, from 248x185mm to 297x210mm, from 150 images to 300, and from 150 pages to 328. The original title and cover art no longer reflected the book's contents and as such I persuaded the publisher to change both. This has indeed created some confusion, for which I am sorry, but I believe that the book as it stands now is a great deal better than it would have been in its original form...". 

There is very little about combat operations in Dan's new book. The content is focused on exactly what it says in the title -  'Messerschmitt Me 262 Development and Politics'. As usual with his books, the text is grounded in cited primary source documents throughout.  As the author explains, older references about units operating the Me 262 etc. are still as valid as ever they were but all previous references concerning the type's developmental history are somewhat out-of-date. 

" if I make a point about something in the book you can see what evidence there is underpinning it, should you wish to. Taking surviving German wartime documents as a whole, a very significant proportion of them - I would hazard a guess at something like 10% - either concern the Me 262 directly or contain information which informs the Me 262's story. This amounts to literally thousands of documents and I have, consequently, collected and processed most of these, distilling the information they contain into the book.." 

Many of the images in the book are drawings from Messerschmitt reports - and many of them are, I believe, previously unpublished. Some have appeared in 'cleaned up' form in the works of, for example, Smith and Creek, but anyone who has read any of Dan's previous works will know that you get the original drawing - as scruffy as it might be. The images, like the text, are presented in chronological order - with any given image on the page having been produced at around the same time as the events being described in the text on that page. Where relevant, the author has noted where those images actually come from too - so for example the famous side view of the Me 262 V1, as well as detail shots of the same aircraft, all appear together in a single original report, the written content of which Willy Messerschmitt personally described as 'nonsensical'. Author Sharp again; 

 " ..I hope to provide additional context and richness to the Me 262 development story where previous works have simply used those photos and others without offering any insight on their background and origin. I read other people's books as widely as possible both before and during the writing process, so I'm well aware of what has previously been written about the Me 262; I was able to test assertions made in those books against the primary sources to see whether they had any validity..."

So to repeat, there are, for example, no biographies of the key players involved in the Me 262 story, no technical explanations of how a turbojet works, no lengthy back-story about the Messerschmitt company and its founding etc. The author's 160,000 words are concerned exclusively with the design, development, discussion and decision-making - with a side order of production. Dan Sharp again;

" my principal aim with this book was to find out what actually happened to the Me 262 all the way through from 1938 to 1945 by using the historical sources rather than whatever appears in other people's books. What emerges, I think, is a rather more complex and nuanced story than anyone, including me, would have expected..." 

 Also on this blog;