Wednesday, 1 August 2012

new Luftwaffe books - Jagdwaffe emblems, David Isby's 'The Decisive Duel', Me 262 bomber and recce units Osprey, Valiant Wings Heinkel He 219 Uhu 'Airframe Album'

There has never been any doubt that the fighter arm was pivotal in introduction of the unit emblems with the Luftwaffe. Since, however, the Luftwaffe developed no classification system to register or even monitor its emblems, the emblem motifs and the motivations behind their introduction were to a great degree lost following the collapse of the Third Reich. The Emblems of Jagdwaffe 1936-1945: A More Complete History by Sinisa Sestanovic offers a plausible theory on the emblems' motifs and origins, and establishes the existence of some previously unknown emblems. The centrepiece of the book is the artwork of more than 300 emblems restored to their former glory, a step beyond Karl Ries's groundbreaking design from the 1960s. The said artwork is complemented by 27 photographs and 12 scale-drawings that illustrate the emblem positions on the fighter aircraft in use by the Jagdwaffe between 1936 and 1945. The book is aimed at the enthusiasts and serious researchers alike. Self published, approx 280 large format pages

Chris Simmonds writes;

"..I have personally checked a number of the book's emblem artwork against known and clear emblem photographs and can only applaud Sestanovic for his unswerving accuracy and attention to detail. His artwork is both clear and of a size at least three times bigger then that of the artwork in Ketley's new book "Luftwaffe Emblems". For scale modellers this, I am sure, will be big bonus. Lastly, at the end the book is a welcome selection of very clear and well produced period images of aircraft carrying some of the emblems previously discussed.
Highlights for me must be probably the best and fullest pre-war selection of emblems published so far. Second must be potted history of each unit and it's relation to past units and its subsequent evolution, whilst this information is available elsewhere such as Holm's website, having it in conjunction with the emblem is very helpful when trying to identify the unit of an image. Lastly must be the emblem artwork themselves easily the most accurate of any Luftwaffe book publish before or present..."

Read the full review at

Got my copy today. Let's face it, anything Me 262-related with the names Forsyth and Creek plastered over the cover is an essential purchase. While I don't really care for the Osprey format - the pics are especially small and dark here - I have to say that Jim Laurier's photo-realistic artwork is superb! In addition this volume presents the best English-language coverage of KG 51's jet operations I've read anywhere. Other units covered include  Sonderkommando Braunegg, NAG 1 and NAG 6.  Sources include Jan Horn's magisterial 'Das Flurschaden Geschwader' and Nick Beale's account of KG 51's early disastrous Western Front deployments as featured on

Chapter headings; 1/ 'That Answers the Fuhrer's Question...'; 2/ Kommando Schenk; 3/ Hitting Back; 4/ High-Speed intelligence; 5/ Bodenplatte To the Banks of the Rhine; 6/ Too little, Too Late

An appendix covers 'Unit Structure and Bases - Me262 Operational Period Mid-1944 to May 1945' and the heart of the work is the fantastic fully annotated colour plate section by Jim Laurier.

Chris Simmonds writes; Anything by these two authors has to be taken seriously, and this is no different. All late war Luftwaffe enthusiasts will enjoy this book which features the misguided attempts to use the Me 262 as a bomber and the superb effective reconnaissance machine it also became. I have given five stars because the content is so well written, the profiles very well done. But I dislike all the Osprey books for their pathetically small format which result in small photos and cramped pages.."

A 'dual biography' of two of the most significant fighter aircraft in the history of aviation. Isby's latest is a very worthwhile work that considers both the technology and the people and the interaction of the two. The book traces the story of the Spitfire and the Me 109 from their origins through the race to get them into service and the early decisive battles of WWII to their final combats over the Middle East in 1948-49. First deployed in anger over Spain during the Civil War the Me 109 enjoyed the early advantageIn many respects the technology on both sides was on a par during the early years of this story - the Emil and the Spitfire I were pretty evenly matched. But the men and the organisations, and, above all, the regimes, were different and eventually a 'technology gap' did appear  - the two stage supercharged Spit IX was - all else being equal - superior to the two speed supercharged German Gustav variant of the Bf 109 and the author explains how and why this was so. This is important for Isby's story because, as he explains, when the Spitfire finally achieved the upper hand over the 109 the Luftwaffe leadership were too incompetent, to in thrall to the leader's will, to act. The regime had largely through force of circumstance placed their hopes in new technologies that ultimately offered too few qualitative enhancements to overcome quantative differences. And while much of the 109's story is told by the 'charismatic' Fighter General or high-ranking ace, the author is aware that to fall back, for example, on Galland's memoirs, is too convenient, too much of the 'blame' is heaped on Göring, the story is too 'pat' and has suffered from too many re-tellings. So some of the Bf 109 story is told from the view point of the 16-year old forced labourer selected from among Auschwitz inmates for the Messerschmitt production line. Detailed and full of interesting facts; plenty of German-language source material has been consulted and exploited so you know that this is not some cheap catch-all rewrite of old texts but a serious mature work  - and one full of interesting facts; I for one did not know that Erhard Milch had a teenage daughter who had Downs Syndrome- Milch's 'motivation' is not just about personal enrichment or German success but to some extent simply keeping his daughter alive. The balance of the book is skewed towards the Battle of Britain of course, some 200 pages whereas only 10 are devoted to the war in the Mediterranean which is where - in addition to the Eastern Front- the Luftwaffe had most of its forces between 1941-44. Recommended.

Visit author David Isby's web site for more on this book and some interesting resources

Coming soon from Valiant Wings

Airframe Album No.1: The Heinkel He 219 'Uhu'
by Richard A. Franks
The first title in a new Airframe Album series (coming August 2012) will cover the Luftwaffe's ultimate nightfighter, the He 219 'Uhu':

  • Period diagrams
  • Data from flight manuals and spare parts catalogue
  • Walkaround images
  • A wealth of pictures of the recently restored NASM example before, during and after restoration
  • 3D isometric views of all variants by Jacek Jackiewicz
  • Colour profiles and camouflage detail by by Richard Caruana
  • 100 pages
  • Publication in advance of the Revell and Zoukei-Mura 1/32 scale kit releases