Saturday 3 February 2024

new and forthcoming Luftwaffe books - Eastern Front 1945


" For the first time, this book outlines how air power helped win the war on the Eastern Front..[..].. the VVS assembled 7,500 aircraft in three powerful air armies to support the final assault on Berlin, while the worn-down Luftwaffe threw its last and most advanced weapons into the fight..."

"Eastern Front 1945" is the latest title in the Osprey Campaign series and is written by an Eastern Front expert William E. Hiestand. His text essentially leans on the best bits of Duffy and Glanz/House ('When Titans Clashed' ) to detail what was primarily a ground-based campaign for the capture of Berlin. He writes that 'information on the air campaign is limited and scattered among a variety of works' and appears to have compiled his text largely from Bergstrom, Price and a selection of Osprey works. So while there are good passages with neat diagrams of the Mistel attacks on the key bridges over the Oder and Neisse rivers, you get the usual, 'the Bf 109 first fought in the Spanish civil war..' etc etc. What, for example, was the point of discussing the career of the He 177 on p28 in the chapter 'Defender's Capabilities'? I'm pretty sure the He 177 took no part in countering the Soviet offensive against Berlin in 1945. So why bother when you only have 96 pages to work with ? The 'campaign' itself doesn't get underway until page 38! There's no room for Bautzen or Budapest, the author covers only East Prussia, the Baltic and Berlin. 'Berlin- the final offensive' starts on p68. The last part-chapter 'The Battle for the Reichstag' mentions some of the last Luftwaffe (resupply) sorties flown into Berlin and the von Greim and Hanna Reitsch mission to the Bunker gets the usual coverage. In between there's the 'usual' (Bergstrom-inspired?) 'Luftwaffe-regained-air-superiority' in the East during February 1945- there are some stats to indicate that the Luftwaffe flew over one thousand sorties on one day in late January but was soon down to its last fifteen hundred operational aircraft, including a suicide unit of some one hundred aircraft (Sondergruppe A) attached to Fiebig's Luftwaffenkommando Nordost supporting Army Group Vistula. There are some interesting text boxes that feature the Soviet air assault on Konigsberg (a 'fortress'), Khozedub's downing of an Me 262 on 19 February 1945 and Hans Rudel's downing on the Oder front that resulted in his leg injury. Apparently he subsequently "escaped to Argentina after the war " (perhaps better would have been 'escaped the wrath of Stalin by surrendering to the Americans and emigrating to Argentina in 1948'). Unfortunately Hiestand's text was marred by some terrible typos throughout. To pick a sentence at random; " one air group of JG 4 was equipped with the heavily armed Sturmbach version of the Fw 190 " ...what the hell is a 'Sturmbach' ?  At least the word 'Sturmbock' features correctly on p24. And since when has the French wartime leader been called "de Gaul"  ?? The photo selection is not very inspiring to be honest. The unidentified 'Fw 190 squadron' photo on p48 is a well known shot of II./JG 300 machines equipped with the Krebs-geraet rearwards-firing rocket, briefly toted during 1944 in the West..  Bizarrely JG 300 get no mention at all in the text (or captions). The image on p51 depicts Ju 88s parked in the forest along the Autobahn at Brunnthal in Bavaria. The photo of the 'Luftwaffe Bf 109 fighter' on p42 shows a square-winged Emil silhouetted in the sky with yellow cowl dating from the Battle of Britain period while the caption says something about '.. typical cloudy grey skies on the Eastern Front..' So this part of the book is a little disappointing. However the eleven pages given over to the maps, diagrams and tables are well-done and there are six pages of superb Jim Laurier artwork.  But why oh why do Osprey insist on printing it over two pages where most of the image is lost in the tight binding? Haven't they received enough complaints about this practise by now?  Anyway, given that you have to spend your Christmas book token on something in Waterstones, this title is well worth picking up. 

More new titles listed in the order of their likely appearance, starting with the new caraktere 'special issue' on JG 77, a new Luftwaffe book from Jans Forsgren on the Me 110 via Fonthill and concluding with two eagerly anticipated books from Mortons and another new Osprey in the Dogfight series (!) from the prolific Robert Forsyth!

Valiant Wings Heinkel He 177 - publishers blurb; " .. Our twentieth title in the Airframe Album series will be an essential reference for any Luftwaffe enthusiast and anyone tackling the Revell kit or other kits in 1/72nd and 1/48th scale. Our biggest Airframe Album to date - 192+ pages!

The Heinkel He 177 Greif contains:

A wealth of historical and walkaround photographs and detail images of the type including data from flight manuals and spare parts catalogues
Period detail images & diagrams during production and service use
Isometric views by Wojciech Sankowski of all prototype, production and test airframes
Concise camouflage and marking notes
Colour profiles and stencil diagram by Richard J. Caruana
Detailed build of the Revell 1/72nd He 177A-5 by Libor Jekl
Lists of all He 177 kits, accessories, decals & masks produced in all scales
Front cover artwork by Arkadiusz Wrobel

From Lela Presse, a French-language history of the Siebel Si 204 in French service and the French derivatives the NC 700, 701 and 702 Martinet aircraft. More than 350 aircraft of this type served in the French air forces until the mid-1960s. The origins of the 'Martinet' resulted from the heavy constraints weighing on the French aeronautical industry at the end of the Second World War: the most effective solution to provide the forces with an essential liaison  and training  type was to continue - with a change of name and some modifications- manufacturing the Siebel 204 D. The Martinet can thus trace its lineage to the German Kl 104, Fh 104 then Si 204. The SI 204 D was in service with the Luftwaffe in 1940 for the training of front line aircrews. In Bourges, during the occupation, the Société Nationale des Constructions Aéronautiques du Center (SNCAC) produced 168 Siebel 204s for the Wehrmacht. With the liberation, production continued under the name NC 700 then NC 701, these models being differentiated by French propellers and engines. A version dedicated to the transport of 8 to 10 passengers  was also built under the designation NC 702, recognizable by its unglazed nose. Under the name Martinet, the NC 700, 701 and 702 joined the units of the Air Force, but also those of the French naval air arm while some Siebel 204s were taken over from German stocks and also assigned to French units. NC 701s flew in the French colonial conflicts in Indochina and then in North Africa, carrying out medi-vac and passenger transport duties. The training of pilots in twin-engine flight and of radio navigators  were also among the important roles carried out by the “Martinet”. This huge 448-page work features some 600 photos and 80 colour profiles.