Friday, 19 July 2013

new Classic Luftwaffe book " Junkers Ju 88 - From Schnellbomber to Multi-Mission Warplane" (Classic 23) First Look review

On the basis that you might not have seen this yet where you are, here is a quick first look at the latest exceptionally well-done Classic Luftwaffe book title, part one of a new 'landmark' study according to the publisher, of the Junkers Ju 88.  This is a densely-packed 328-page volume covering the " Development, Production and Technical history " of this long-serving Luftwaffe multi-role aircraft compiled by US technical author, engineer and pilot William Medcalf, better known to some as "Artie Bob". The text is well supported by several hundred rare photographs, manufacturer's handbook data and technical illustrations, scale line drawings and colour artwork courtesy of the excellent Simon Schatz and the incomparable Janusz Swaitlon. Medcalf describes the development and gestation of the Ju 88 with emphasis on flight testing and series construction and compares its performance with contemporary aircraft from abroad. The Ju 88 was probably the finest bomber to serve in the Luftwaffe bomber force, but its design, construction and speed meant that it was adaptable as a night-fighter, heavy fighter, torpedo-bomber and reconnaissance aircraft. This high-performance aircraft entered service in limited numbers during the campaign over Poland in 1939, but subsequently flew on every battle front on which the Luftwaffe operated throughout World War 2, from the early Blitzkrieg campaigns of 1939/40 through to the Mediterranean and the vast Russian theatre. It was known widely as a feared night fighter, " representing the pinnacle of German aeronautical design technology" according to author Medcalf who has researched the type over a forty-year period. 

Posing the question in his introduction " Can a non-German write a good book about a Luftwaffe aircraft ? "   ( to reprise and possibly preempt the comments of the incomparable Peter Achs uttered elsewhere ) the author provides plenty of convincing evidence that they can! Of course Vergleichsmessungen zwischen Leitweik E und A4) is typical of the more "engineering-oriented" approach apparent in this volume devoted to the 'technical' history of the type.

  The Ju 88 served in numbers with the air forces of Finland, Italy, Hungary, Romania, Spain and France and its appeal as a combat aircraft, especially to modellers, is perhaps in large part due to its widely dispersed service. Its variants are also covered in depth - including the entire 188/288/388 family- as is the wide array of armament and equipment with which it was fitted - the Ju 88 A mounting RZ 65 rocket launchers suspended from the ETC racks was new to me. Modellers are well catered for with plenty of detail pics and illustrations along with Simon and Janusz's brilliant profile artwork covering a variety of markings and camouflage schemes - personal favourite here is probably the full-page artwork of the Ju 188 V3 WNr 10008 "ST+GL" that served as GfM Milch's personal transport as painted by Janusz Swaitlon. 

The last chapter "Flying and Fighting the Ju 88, Ju 188 and Ju 388 " (Chapter 14 pages 279-307)  serves as a prequel for the forthcoming volume II entitled " At war -Day and Night ", a work that looks just as exciting by the way. I am also pleased to report ( as a German-speaking enthusiast with a penchant for pilot accounts )  that my very modest contribution to Vol I appears on pages 304/305 with more to come in Vol II..