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, " ..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..."

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 ? https://falkeeinsgreatplanes.blogspot.com/2015/03/uk-aviation-magazines-currently-on.html

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')





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" ...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 http://luftwaffe.be.  

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..."



Saturday, 16 January 2021

Currently reading 'Avions', 'Flugzeug Classic', 'Aerojournal'

 

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. 

Elsewhere in this issue Kurt Braatz presents six pages on Günther Rall, while Holger Lorenz looks at the second generation of Jumo turbojets. Dan Zamansky in 'Gescheiterte Strategie' returns to the African and Mediterranean campaigns, looking specifically at the transfer of fighter units from the East to the Mediterranean theatres. 

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.