Saturday, 15 May 2021

Social media update - Luftwaffe & WWII podcasts, 'We have ways..' with Al Murray and James Holland; toxic Twitter and google blogger


In between sending off one new Luftwaffe manuscript to an editor and completing the translation of another, I have recently spent a  week on Twitter - what a dreadful place! Having never really used Twitter before, it was something of an eye-opener. According to regular users, Twitter can bring on all sorts of mental health issues from anxiety, depression and obsessive, compulsive behaviours. Which I can well imagine. While there are plenty of respectable organisations and personalities and 'internet fandoms' on the platform, I have to say some of the behaviour, comments, insults, threats etc I encountered on the platform would be totally inexcusable in real life. And even though regular users concede that Twitter can be "toxic and overwhelming', ' a form of 'digital self-harm' it seems that it is almost impossible to wean yourself off it. Like an addiction.

“There is this phenomenon we call the fear of missing out,” says Dr Sharon Coen, a Senior Lecturer in Media Psychology at the University of Salford. “And this is a phenomenon that seems to be particularly compelling with Twitter, but also Facebook and LinkedIn – places that offer the opportunity to like or comment on someone’s post, and to share information about what’s going on in our lives.”

This New Statesman article describes the very 'toxic' time some users have on Twitter

Why can't we just quit Twitter

".. overwhelmingly it appears that people are having a toxic time on Twitter. And perhaps breaks aren’t the answer, but rather permanently logging off.."

Aside from the personal issues and in perhaps a rather very worrying trend, Twitter - primarily because of 'lazy' journalism- tends to to be incorporated almost wholesale into news agendas ..

Before it makes me feel too bad about myself I will just point out one interesting page that caught my eye and led me to the associated website;

James Holland and Al Murray host a WWII podcast  "We have ways of making you talk". According to the blurb, ..' comedian Al Murray and historian James Holland [have created] a new podcast all about the Second World War. 'We Have Ways of Making You Talk' will be a weekly show exploring the war in close up. The two men will tell battlefield tales and bring forgotten events back into sharp focus..' 

 Each episode opens with a 30-second ad and several minutes of general chat before attacking the subject matter of the discussion. A single click to listen here;

The podcasts also discuss the latest books. The 'featured book' archive is here

'We have ways..' podcast - featured book archive

Not quite as 'slick' as 'We have ways..' is the "History Hack" podcast site - here you can find more interesting discussion with some 'heavyweights' in the field; 

Chris Goss on the complexities of Luftwaffe research

Claire Mulley on the 'Women who flew for Hitler' - Melita von Stauffenberg

Elsewhere I recently received a 'take-down' notice from Google involving this site - the first such notice I've received in nearly 12 years of posting on the Luftwaffe blog!

Prior to this I had been in touch with a friend of this blog involved in the (no doubt very expensive) acquisition of the original photo - there were no issues. I am nonetheless a little bemused by Google's subsequent 're-evaluation' with the original post restored!

Also on this blog;

The Luftwaffe on Facebook

Due later this year from Casemate

Luftwaffe Victory Markings

In the same series

Tuesday, 4 May 2021

New books - new and forthcoming from LeLa Presse, Arès and the latest JfV from Jochen Prien


Another excellent title in the ‘Batailles Aériennes’ series, personal accounts, artworks and an excellent selection of images. Forthcoming from Peter Taghon, a new history of KG 6. Free postage on pre-orders up to publication date in June.

'Avions' issue 240 is another 'Aces' special - although I have to say that articles describing the events of various dates on which H-J Marseille was shot down are becoming as common-place as articles about his successes.. (cf. recent issues of 'Aces' and 'Flypast' magazines)

And the latest JfV title from Jochen Prien and team has arrived from Struve - Teil 14 covers ops in the Med through Jan-September 1944. At the turn of the year 1943-44 barely six Gruppen and less than 100 serviceable Bf 109s faced up to some 3,000 Allied aircraft that could be deployed over Italy - these included Gruppen from JG 77, JG 4, JG 51, and 10./ JG 301. II./JG 77 had only just given up its Italian Macchi fighters and had less than 10 Bf 109s on strength at the turn of the year while I./JG 4 had just two Staffeln.  Gruppen such as IV./JG 3, II./JG 27 and II./JG 53 had returned to Germany. The Med was a theatre much reduced in importance given events elsewhere and especially over the Reich itself. A considerably weakened Tagjagd was deployed over both the northern Italian industrial centres to counter 15th AAF raids and over southern Italy from where the Americans had started raiding both Germany and the oil fields of Romania from Foggia. Meanwhile the meagre Tagjad forces were also of course committed against Allied forces and in support of German ground forces attempting to hold a line south of Rome. At the start of the year the Allies flew huge numbers of sorties ahead of the landings at Anzio while the Tagjagd was far too weak to put up any effective opposition. On the morning of 22 January Lf2. flew just 154 Schlachtflieger sorties over the course of four missions while just 54 Bf 109s flew escort prompting the hurried re-deployment of III./JG 53 and II./JG 77 to airfields north of Rome. This took several days to achieve because of bad weather. Up to the end of January most sorties were escorts for SG 4 Fw 190s or 'free hunts' over the invasion zone and over Cassino and every sortie brought with it the usual toll of lost and damaged machines. During mid-February I./JG 2 arrived in Italy having been deployed to southern France to operate against the 15th AAF raids during January. .  On March 3, 200 B-17s and 80 B-24s escorted by 50 P-47s bombed rail installations and hubs in and around Rome- I./JG 2 claimed five  B-24s and four P-47s. Two were credited to FhjObfw. Siegfried Lemke taking his ‘score’ to 23 victories.  Uffz. Clemens Waltherscheid of 3 Staffel knocked down two Viermots. On March 14 the ace and Staffelkapitän of 3./JG 2 Hptm.  Adalbert Sommer was shot down and killed. Sommer had spent most of the war with III./JG 52 in the East and had returned his 52nd victory on February 29 and his 53rd on March 3.  For some time, Allied bombers had been flying intensive raids in the vicinity of Monte Casino, completely destroying the Benedictine monastery. I./JG 2 flew occasional patrols over the area and clashed with 25 Spitfires on March 17. Two victories were scored by Lemke (vs. 30 and 31) and Uffz. Wirtgen. On March 21, Uffz. Rudolf Wirtgen of 1./JG 2 became an ace after downing his fifth Spitfire in ten days.

 Below; part II of Jean-Louis Roba’s « La Luftwaffe en France 1939-45 » from publisher Arès - visit their website for page views and ordering info.  And the latest issue of ‘Iron Cross’. I definitely still do not like the ‘colorisations’ nor do I particularly like the artwork but this ‘special’ issue has a lot of good MvR content. 

Elsewhere Pen & Sword have a new photo-book from Terry Treadwell on MvR which includes the fake photo below. Unbelievable, as is the terrible caption  -  ‘MvR - an early ‘Hell’s Angel’ - what on earth were they thinking?

More Luftwaffe fighters in Profile from Claes Sundin - stunning!

Haynes Owners Manuals - titles now from only £2 in 'The Works' - Ju 87 Stuka, Battle of Britain Operations Manual, Panzer III - Falconer, Saunders

Best known for their iconic, in-depth auto repair manuals, Haynes of Somerset, England, also offers a series of books which delve into the design, construction, and operation of famous military aircraft.  Their titles on the  Ju 87 Stuka ( Falconer), Spitfire, Battle of Britain Operations (Saunders) and the Flak 88 have been available cheaply in British high street discount retailer 'The Works' for some time. And when I say 'cheaply' - I mean 'cheaply'!

The familiar red and yellow Haynes logo on the front of the company’s hardback books has been around for more than 50 years. The Somerset-based company apparently still makes a lot of money on a format that is relatively unchanged since it first appeared. With a live catalogue of over 1,000 manuals, the company has a presence in 80 countries and 24 languages. Few people could realistically expect to take apart a Spitfire, for which the company produced a manual when it became official publisher to the RAF in 2007 but the company line still applies; “It is a manual, not a coffee table book that happens to contain technical instruction. Well, maybe it’s a combination. You are not going to go out and repair a Spitfire, obviously, but you could with this. It retains that trusted explanation." 

The Spitfire and Ju 87 volumes are just two of a line of similar publications from the Haynes stable.  And now more than ever these manuals are available in retail outlets all over Britain at discounted prices - many aviation titles can be purchased in 'The Works' for just £2. Although some are £3 rising to £5 or even £7. Although these are not discounted books apparently - despite their RRP of £25.

According to Haynes Commissioning Editor Jonathan Falconer they are special print-runs produced exclusively for 'The Works'. There are some that believe that such discounts can only undermine future book production and diminish the 'rewards' available to authors.

To be honest, though - and let's do a bit of straight talking here - Jonathan Falconer presumably still gets his salary/contract payment whomever the Haynes Manuals are printed for and at whatever price point they are sold at. The authors almost certainly won't get the payment they might have expected - if 500 volumes are given away at £2 that's a large royalty the author will miss out on. According to one insider, who worked in book sales for ten years, " understanding is the print runs of the Haynes titles that 'The Works' order are around the 20,000 copies mark, that's a massive inducement to ANY company..."

Most print runs these days are sourced out to either Singapore, Hong Kong, mainland China or Taiwan and this has been the case for a long time. It must be certainly a big factor in Haynes profit margins (£3 million in 2017 on revenues of £30 million). One assumes Haynes still makes money on these titles - even new books - like the 'Buccaneer' book produced by Keith Wilson (yes, at the time of writing available for just £3 in 'The Works') and the Flak 88 title were only released relatively recently.  My point is - don’t blame the consumer/reader for wanting to take advantage of these deals. And spare a thought for the  independent book retailers, who, even as a collective, do not have the buying power to order the numbers and thereby get the discount that 'The Works' gets. 

See my 'Jet & Prop' blog for more like this;

UK aviation magazines - why does Key Publishing (have to) own everything ?

Monday, 1 March 2021

Fw 190 A "black 4" from III. / KG (J) 27


The KG (J) units -  Kampfgeschwader re-mustered on fighters  and including KG (J) 6, 54 and 27 -  always capture the attention of enthusiasts. These images appear to show a late-variant 'Anton' - coded 'black 4+I' - with the green/white checker fuselage band (or Karoband) from III./ KG (J) 27. Fw 190 A-9 "white 2" (W.Nr. 206 000) is already known.  Of the known KG (J) 27 loss reports the Anton is not mentioned although the Dora-9 is..

Colour image showing the green/white check band on a scrap dump Bf 109 G-10 'yellow 2' found at Kaufbeuren.

Horn, J., 1996. Als die Kampfflieger noch Jäger werden sollten - Das Ende des KG(J)6 im Raum Prag. Jägerblatt, Vol.XLV, Nr. 1/1996, pp.38-43.

Also on this blog ;  Me 262 of KG(J) 54

Friday, 26 February 2021

Dan Sharp - Heinkel He 162 ('Secret Projects of The Luftwaffe')


" ...The first prototype He 162 was flown on December 6, 1944 and reached a top speed of 522 mph. The aircraft handled well except for some longitudinal stability problems. The flight ended when one of the wooden main gear doors separated from the aircraft, due to defective bonding of the plywood. Four days later, the aircraft crashed after the wooden leading edge of the right wing delaminated, killing Heinkel’s chief test pilot, Flugkapitan Gotthard Peter. The wing failure was a result of defective bonding after the Goldschmitt Tego-Film factory was bombed and an alternative bonding agent was used. As it turned out the new bonding method was too acidic causing the wooden structure to deteriorate.8 Despite the crash, the He 162 program continued. To correct longitudinal stability, Dr. Alexander Lippisch suggested adding small downward turning winglets on the wing tips. This corrected the problem and the winglets became known as Lippisch Ohren or Lippisch Ears..."  (Larry Dwyer, Aviation History Museum on-line)

"...Much has been written about Heinkel's last wartime aircraft yet in studying the wealth of surviving primary source material it became evident that certain misconceptions have become ingrained in these writings. It is my hope that this publication, fully referenced with primary sources, will offer a degree of clarity and transparency that may be relied upon.." 

 Dan Sharp, November 2020    

While recently perusing a 'new' compendium of Luftwaffe types that featured no references or notes  I found myself wondering how was it possible to judge what was reliable information and what was not.  A friend of mine has been saying it for a long time -the lack of proper reference listing and noting is a serious shortcoming of most aviation books! Someone who appreciates this is author Dan Sharp. According to his publisher's blurb, Dan Sharp has developed an unhealthy obsession with primary and archival sources. In a previous post on his 'Jet fighter projects' you may recall that Dan wanted to know whether anyone had written on any of the topics covered in his jet fighters book in more detail. Well, they have now - and that some-one is Dan Sharp himself. While some of the projects mentioned  in his previous book amount to a handful of drawings or notes, others are backed up in  the archives by large quantities of paperwork. So while the broad outline of what happened concerning the 'Volksjäger' competition is covered in the 'Jet Fighters' book, Dan's new 172-page He 162 book is very much a 'deep dive' into the type's development, with a new level of detail only possible using the copious primary sources available. 

Dan Sharp's latest work is not a complete history of everything to do with the He 162 - it only barely touches on the production side and efforts to get the type into Luftwaffe service. Rather, it looks primarily at the design and development of the type. It is without doubt - over its 172 pages - the most detailed and accurate developmental history to the type to yet appear in print.

I've been buying books on German WW2 aircraft and on other types for a long time. When you buy and read  a lot, you notice a fair number of inconsistencies among sources- one will give one reason for the He 162 V1's crash and another will come up with a different reason. It's a pretty glaring inconsistency and it is very difficult to know what is correct and what isn't, especially when the book in question fails to give any decent references. Obviously some volumes do provide this - for example Uziel's 'Arming the Luftwaffe' is one. Even the gold standard books such as Classic Publications don't usually tell you where the documents are to be found though. 

One area of inconsistency that Sharp highlights in relation to the He 162 concerns the 45-degree wing end caps, commonly referred to as 'Lippisch ears'. There is a single flight test report where the pilot refers to them simply as 'ears'. Someone has presumably taken this and spun it into 'Lippisch ears'. That's not to say that Lippisch didn't develop them - he did. According to the new timeline in the He 162 developmental history that Dan Sharp has written, Lippisch wrote to Heinkel technical director Carl Francke offering his sympathies following the crash of the He 162 V1 on Dec 10, 1944, and offering to help, if he could. Francke wrote back to say that he would welcome Lippisch's input and offering to show him the aircraft in person as soon as possible. The earliest (and only known) blueprint drawing of the new 'end cap' is dated January 6, 1945 (and also Jan 9). The 'end cap' is then flight tested later in January - and is found to successfully cancel out the longitudinal instability which caused the V1 to crash. Incidentally, the longitudinal instability was caused by the wings' 3-degrees of dihedral (according to Heinkel). A permanent solution of reducing the dihedral to 1-degree - negating the need for the end caps - was planned but never implemented. The bigger problem was lateral instability, the curing of which required the fuselage fuel tank to be significantly reduced in size (as the fuel drained, it altered the aircraft's centre of gravity mid-flight, causing pitch-up/pitch-down movements that were nearly uncontrollable), the tailplanes to be lengthened, different ballast weights to be tried in the nose etc. etc.

This in a nutshell is very much the motive behind Dan Sharp's research efforts - a return to the source documents. As well as attempting to clarify the timeline, Dan Sharp also provides a more accurate analysis of the He 162 prototypes, what variants of the aircraft were proposed and what decisions were made about them. Richard A. Franks' 'The Heinkel He 162 - A Detailed Guide to the Luftwaffe's Volksjaeger' tries to do a similar job - it is essentially a list of the different prototypes and what their features are supposed to have been. Many of Franks' listings are carefully 'corrected' in this new work, citing the source of the correct information so that, should anyone wish, they can check it themselves. 

To this end  I found the seven pages of footnotes slightly more edifying this time than I did the pages of footnotes in Dan Sharp's previous book on the BV 155 - since most of them nicely expand on what is written in the main text rather than just being document references.

Dan Sharp neatly sums up the He 162 project - while it has become axiomatic that the He 162 was symptomatic of the desperation that beset late-war German aeronautical developments, the machine was probably the 'perfect' aircraft from a number of stand-points for the resource-constrained late-war German economy - ease of construction, cheap to build, utilising a single-jet with wooden wings - operating perfectly well on cheap, unrefined fuel - that conferred decent performance not far removed from that of the far more expensive, resource and labour-intensive Me 262. 

Recommended! For readers in the UK this publication is available from WH Smiths. 

Wednesday, 17 February 2021

New book from Jan Forsgren - the Fieseler Fi 156 Storch - Fonthill Media


Jan Forsgren has just published his latest book through Fonthill Media. His subject this time is the Fieseler Fi 156 Storch - " The First STOL aircraft". As with his previous works Jan has attempted to include details on all the various operators of the type and not just concentrate on the Luftwaffe. One aspect of Jan's books that I always enjoy are the chapters on post-war operators; in the case of the Storch that includes many that were virtually unknown to me, from Albania to Egypt to Japan and Yugoslavia. The author includes photos of Storchs and its Czech- and French-built variants from almost every country that flew them, apart from Albania, Croatia, Egypt, Greece and Japan. For example, did you know that a number of Polish Air Force Storchs were sent to Albania in the late 1940s, to be flown by Greek Communist guerillas on night nuisance raids against the Greek government Force?

There is also a chapter on contemporary Storch clones, as well as the various ultralight scale replicas from the late 1990s. It is possible that some potential readers will find this both superfluous and of little interest, but as the author writes, he wanted to present a 'complete' history of the Storch. For instance, the Slepcev Storch  - a 75% scale replica -was marketed to Australian sheep farmers. After all, it flies low and slow, also being able to take off and land in less than 100 feet!

 An overview of Jan Forsgren's books published by Fonthill Media

Saturday, 30 January 2021

Forthcoming and available to pre-order from Éditions Arès - The Luftwaffe in France vol 2 1943-45 " Adversity and defeat " by Jean-Louis Roba. Luftwaffe Gallery No. 6 "LuGa - Luck, Fate and Destiny"


From the publishers blurb;

In early 1943, the Luftwaffe based in France had to occupy the whole of France following the invasion of the southern Free Zone at the end of 1942. This proved to be a real headache for a local command that had to square the circle since it had a wholly inadequate number of air units and Flak (DCA)! The situation was to worsen with the deterioration of the Axis' military situation in the Mediterranean, with France too often becoming a reservoir of men and aircraft from which to draw if necessary to reinforce Africa, Greece and, finally, Italy. 1943 also saw increasingly powerful raids launched on the continent by the American USAAF and its formidable four-engined aircraft. The daytime fighter force, the Tagjagd, would thus be gradually worn down and overwhelmed, regularly losing aces whose disappearance could not be compensated for by the arrival of young aviators lacking experience and training. RAF Bomber Command by night increased the number of intrusions, forcing the local command to develop its night fighter arm (Nachtjagd) which, until then, had remained somewhat embryonic. Despite these efforts, few new units could be raised to reinforce the offensive and defensive potential of the German air force in occupied France. Thus, the KG 6, which was formed from bits and pieces in 1942, operated only slightly from French territory, being called up in Italy or Denmark before being engaged in raids of very low strategic value on England. Even the inevitable approach of an allied invasion could not overturn the scales and the Normandy landings of June 6, 1944 following by those in the south (Provence) dealt a fatal blow to the Wehrmacht. By the end of August 1944, almost all Luftwaffe units had evacuated France. Withdrawn to Germany, they carried out sporadic actions in French airspace, mainly in support of land forces or purely on the defensive. On 1 January 1945, the Luftwaffe launched Operation Bodenplatte, which was hardly a success. The last Luftwaffe aircraft to fly over France were the He 111s of TG 30, which flew night-time resupply missions to the German-held Atlantic coast pockets until the end, surrendering only on 8 May 1945.

Page views and pre-order info  at this link here

volume 1 of  'The Luftwaffe in France' reviewed on this blog here

A 'new look' tenth edition in the tenth anniversary year of the ' Luftwaffe Gallery' monograph series has been available for a while now from  

Via Del Davis;

"..I received the book yesterday and have not finished reading it but my initial impression is very positive. There are articles on Ubben and Wurmheller with previously unseen photos and color schemes. Other articles cover airfield tank trucks, the He-115 and aircraft markings with a gambling theme. The overall layout has been revised and photo numbers are tied directly to items and remarks in the text. It seems to be available in the US on eBay and Amazon as well as several other locations..."