Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Wish you were here ! A history of the Mediterranean Air War 1940-45 and A history of JG 53 (Part 3) by Jean-Louis Roba (Lela Presse)

Gosh its hot here - as hot as the Mediterranean, 30 C and counting! The only 'consolation' is you know that it won't last ! Here's some of my current beach reading..

Half price deals still available at on this new edition of an old classic - advertised as second-hand, but this is a brand-new copy, although has some slight creasing of the jacket. A bargain, even if the photo content is looking rather 'old hat' in places and the authors can't quite decide how they want to write Luftwaffe designations. Lots of personal accounts, but these are mostly drawn from published memoirs. 560 pages, it would be churlish to pass it over. From the publishers blurb;

 "It is now more than 40 years since "Fighters over the Desert" was published, and nearly as long since this was followed by "Fighters over Tunisia". Both volumes have long been out of print and collectors' items, but, despite much prompting, Christopher Shores has resolutely refused to permit their reprinting until he amassed so much more information. He has also long nursed a desire to expand the coverage to encompass the operations of the other types of aircraft involved in this interesting and important theatre of war - the bombers, reconnaissance aircraft and maritime units. Further, it is his intention to extend the period covered to include the later operations over Sicily, Italy, the Aegean area, the Balkans and Southern Europe. This then represents the first volume of a seminal series dealing with all these aspects and areas, which will also tie in with the earlier 'Grub Street' volumes which he and his collaborators have produced. Thus a full coverage of all aspects of aerial operations throughout the whole of the Mediterranean area will be the ultimate result..."

Independently I came across this image from the book currently on offer here

Part three of Jean-Louis Roba's history of JG 53 covering the Mediterranean during the period 1941-42 - Sicily, Malta, Tunisia, Gruppe by Gruppe. Recommended at 12 euros for 96 A-4 softback pages and 180 + photos and Thierry Dekker's superb profile artwork. Don't let the French text put you off. Very colourful, beautifully laid out, maps, log-book extracts, rare photos. It seems amazing that just across the Channel you can pick up something up as good as this on a news stand. For the rest of us there's Sylvie's excellent mail order service at give it a try.

" Meimberg returned his 31st victory somewhat fortuitously as he himself recounted;

" was the last day of January 1943 and I was up over Tunis on my own on a flight test. Our Leitoffizier radioed that a high flying recce machine was reported heading over the city. I soon caught sight of him - a small glinting point in the sky that I was able to close on undetected. It was a Lightning. This was my first encounter with this twin-engine twin boom fighter. Seeger had already warned me that they were not to be underestimated. And so it was ; when I opened up on him at an altitude of 7,500 metres the American caught me by surprise, hauling into such a tight turn to come around and face me that I could barely believe it. He had thrown down the gauntlet and I was amazed at his roll rate and maneuverability. But I managed to unleash the decisive blows, timed at 13:00 and, although wounded, my opponent baled out and was taken captive.."  

However the next day, 01 February 1943, luck abandoned 'Jule' Meimberg - scrambled with 11./JG 2 (subordinated to the Stab II./JG 53) at around midday, Meimberg's high altitude interceptors were directed onto a formation of a dozen unescorted B-17s approaching Tunis. This was another opportunity for Meimberg to trial his Frontalangriff head-on attack tactic. The B-17 gunners' concentrated defensive fire quickly turned the cockpit of his Bf 109 into a Flammenmeer - a sea of flames - and by the time he had managed to extricate himself from his stricken machine he had been seriously roasted. A downed B-17 was credited to Meimberg although no four-engine bomber was lost over Tunis that day. Just days later Meimberg was repatriated to Germany to convalesce - when he returned to 6./ JG 53 in August 1943, 11./JG 2 was no more and the Germans had been expelled from North Africa...."