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 ?