Thursday, 22 February 2018

Red Kite/Wing Leader Nachtjagd Combat Archive - the death of Hptm. Reinhold Knacke, 3-4 February 1943 - new Luftwaffe books

A few years ago now Theo Boiten asked me if I wouldn't mind helping out on his Nachtjagd War Diaries project which was finally published by Red Kite in 2007-2008. In the end I translated about 65 text pages worth of vets accounts including Peter Spoden's moving and eloquent Foreword. When I was finally able to peruse the books I was hugely impressed with the sheer size of the two tomes (a total of 750+ pages!) and the evident deep research therein.

Peter Spoden and Rolf Ebhardt sitting with author Theo Boiten at the launch of the 'original' Nachtjagd War Diaries, November 2007. Standing behind are Rod Mackenzie and Mark Postlethwaite, flanked by the team from The Aviation Bookshop who organised the launch.

Almost as soon as they appeared though there was talk of reprints and revised editions and now in 2018 the first of the new edition 128-page softback volumes has been published by Red Kite. And very nicely done it is too. Again the stats are mind-boggling; the authors are planning on illustrating their million or so words with some 1,200 photos most of which are previously unpublished. Every claim/loss of the night air war over the Reich will have been investigated (some 6,000) and dubious information ruled out. Many new primary source documents will have been consulted and photographs located. If you are familiar with Red Kite's superb 'Battle of Britain' and 'Dunkirk' Combat Archive then you will know what to expect. The publisher appears to have hit on a winning formula, so kudos to them. Red Kite apparently decided to publish 1943 first as this was a major transitional year in the night air war, and will follow up 1943 (three volumes) with the release of the volumes for 1940-42. The series will be concluded with new volumes on 1944-45 and on the night air war over Russia and the Med. It is estimated the series will run to between 12 – 15 books as previously mentioned and be published every two-three months. While it would be churlish to nit-pick I will say that it is a shame that there is no profile artwork in the 'Nachtjagd..' book, although there are plenty of full page, full colour mission and situation maps.

Much more on the publisher's web site here

The following account was translated by this blog author and appears in the sample page extract featured on the Red Kite/Wingleader site. Ofw. Kurt Bundrock was Bordfunker (radio operator) with Bf 110 NJG 1 ace Hptm. Reinhold Knacke (44 night victories). Here he describes the ace's death on the night of  3-4 February 1943 during the course of a raid on Hamburg..