Tuesday, 4 May 2021
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."
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, " ..my 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..."
See my 'Jet & Prop' blog for more like this;
UK aviation magazines - why does Key Publishing (have to) own everything ? https://falkeeinsgreatplanes.blogspot.com/2015/03/uk-aviation-magazines-currently-on.html
Monday, 1 March 2021
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.
Also on this blog ; Me 262 of KG(J) 54
Friday, 26 February 2021
" ...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'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.
Wednesday, 17 February 2021
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!
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"
"..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..."
Saturday, 16 January 2021
If you are a regular visitor here you will know that I will often look at the Luftwaffe content to be seen in the monthly and bi-monthly magazines that are published by our European neighbours. I have a subscription to 'Avions' and pick up issues of 'Aérojournal' from the local supermarket. 'Flugzeug Classic' is usually purchased from the Geramond website or ebay.de as postage from Germany can be expensive. As our own Key Publishing attempts (bizarrely) to turn 'Flypast' into 'Aviation News' and 'Aeroplane' into 'Flypast' - no doubt in the face of some competition from 'Britain at War' and even the rather hit-and-miss 'Iron Cross' - there is no doubt that titles such as 'Flugzeug Classic', 'Avions' and 'Aérojournal' leave our own UK-based titles floundering in their slipstream. Not a metaphor for what is happening in the wider world. I hope. Try one and see for yourself.
Markus and his team at Geramond.de (Flugzeug Classic) continue to produce a very nice magazine with a wide range of Luftwaffe-related features. (along with plenty of other content too) In the January 2021 issue Peter Schmoll completes his account of the life and times of JG 52 pilot Ernst Stengl in "Fight for survival". Accounts from Jagdflieger in the East during 1945 are pretty rare and this is a very detailed one. Stengl describes endless strafing and 'freie Jagd' missions against and over Russian columns during early 1945. On 20 January Stengl was hit by ground fire and made a forced landing some 10 kms behind the front lines, east of the Oder. Making his way through woods to the banks of the river he recalls the constant engine noise of Soviet columns moving up. Unable to locate any sort of boat or barge to cross in, Stengl took the risk of entering the freezing water with his clothes/uniform bundled inside his Lederkombi held above his head, and half-wading, half-swimming managed to reach the western bank. By March 1945 Stengl was flying two to three resupply sorties per day into the besieged 'fortress' of Breslau - " solange wir genügend Versorgungsbehältern und Sprit hatten.." ('or as long as we had resupply cannisters and fuel available...'). According to the author the contents of their resupply canisters were on one occasion emptied of food, chocolates and cigarettes on the orders of the Gestapo since only weapons and munitions were to be dropped on the beleaguered city. Stengl also describes his last - and 17th victory - also in March, prior to his transfer with Staffelkapitän Oblt.Neuböck to II./JG 52 on 17 April 1945.
Opening his piece with a brief account of events and using claims data from Johannes Matthews, author Zamansky constructs a picture of the movements of Jagdgruppen from the East to the Mediterranean during 1942 as the Soviet front was slowly ‘denuded’ of key resources. I./JG 53 is one unit under the spotlight, removed from the fighting around Stalingrad in late September 1942 – their claims total for the single month of September 1942 was nearly 350 Soviet machines - rather more than the figure achieved by III./JG 53 in the 3-month period June-October 1941 (highest JG 53 scorers in the East during 1941). They were followed by Gruppen of JG 77 and JG 51. The author points out that nothing replaced JG 77 in the East and by the time JG 27 left Africa it was in a very poor state. While all of its Gruppen eventually gathered in Austria to defend the southern part of the Reich, elements of one Gruppe remained in the Mediterranean until well into 1944. The key point is that the resources sent to Rommel may have been of much more use elsewhere, also a point made forcefully by others, such as J-L Roba in his recent ‘Luftwaffe in Africa’ (Casemate). Ultimately, Rommel neglected the problem of supply far too much and, worse, attracted Luftwaffe units to Africa that would have been more useful in Sicily operating against Malta..( or the USSR.)
“ ..In assessing Rommel and the campaign, it is important to remember that Germany was weaker than Britain, even Britain alone. Therefore, after Britain had held out in 1940, Germany had very few good strategic choices left. The attack on the USSR was a desperate choice, but the best choice remaining. […] the problem for the Germans was that giving up Africa would only draw the noose tighter around their necks. After Alamein, evacuation was the obvious choice, but this had equally obvious implications, such as "the beginning" of the end..."
When it comes to unit movements from East to South in 1942, the movement of Kampfgruppen was possibly even more significant but not dealt with in Dan Zamansky's piece. Hopefully the author will be given the chance to publish more on this. Like the fighter forces taken from the East, a number of Stuka and Transport Gruppen transferred to Africa not to mention elements of ZG 26 (Heller of 8./ZG 26 won his RK in Africa) and the Ju 88s of LG 1 and it was these forces that contributed chiefly to the DAK's early successes of course. It could even be argued that the German fighter force - with the pilots’ focus on 'acedom' - did not have the 'crucial' impact in either theater as, say, the Gruppen of Stuka Geschwader. After all German fighters went after other fighters and not for example Allied bombers. That said the Stukas operated with success into 1943 in Africa so while the German fighters were outnumbered this strongly indicates that " Marseille and his fellow pilots were as good at tactical bomber escort as they were at air combat..".
The article concludes with a 're-statement' of the author’s somewhat ‘controversial’ thesis that the USSR's role in the war is exaggerated – the author's contention briefly put is that the movement of forces away from the East took place as early as 1942 so that fighting the Western Allies became the dominant focus of Germany's war.
The latest issue of 'Avions' - the best bi-monthly French aviation magazine* - covers RAF Lysanders in France (J-L Roba) and Mikhail Timine looks at some long-range Zerstörer sorties flown on the opening day of Barbarossa. Elsewhere 'Avions' have also republished the long OOP and hard to find "Romanian Black Hussars" in this new 'Special' edition entitled "Stukisti" - an account of the Romanian Grupul 3 Picaj Stukas in action by J-L Roba and Cristian Craciunoiu. Other units and aircraft types flying in Romania are also covered to a lesser extent with details of training carried out by the experienced airmen of St.G. 77 and Grupul 3 escort flown by the Bf 110s of Küstenstaffel Krim. Text in French. The Luftwaffe blog extends sincere thanks to co-author Jean-Louis Roba for a review copy of 'Stukisti'..
The prolific J-L Roba also has a long feature in the latest Aérojournal - the best bi-monthly French aviation magazine* - in the form of a lengthy bio of JG 77 56-victory RKT Eduard Isken which features many rare images from the albums of JG 77 veterans. Incidentally issue no. 79 also covers the aerial battles over Kasserine (Tunisia) during early 1943. In addition to Chris Goss on the Battle of Britain, recent issues of Yannis Khadari's magazine continue to evoke the spirit of CJE with very nice multi-part features on JG 26 in the Westfeldzug (Philippe Saintes) and a thorough sixteen-page account by J-L Roba of 2.(H)/14 with plenty of colour and artworks! Issue 77 covered Luftwaffe 'rockets and missiles' in a fantastic 40-page spread with outstanding artworks, photographic content and reproductions of period blueprints. Highly recommended. Having used the service a number of times now I can confirm that back issues are speedily and professionally shipped via http://caraktere.com Keep an eye on the website too for a forthcoming 'Encyclopedia of Luftwaffe fighters' from the same publisher.