Saturday, September 20

Review: Axel Urbanke's Luftwaffe im Focus 23

New editions of the Luftwaffe im Focus is always a reason to be happy – Axel Urbanke’s research and interviews reap many archival treasures often not before seen in print, and that is what makes these books something special – they are unique. Let’s have a look at Issue twenty-three in our review

Luftwaffe Im Focus Edition No. 23
Written & Compiled by: Axel Urbanke
Languages: dual German / English text on each page
Pages: 50
Colour & B/W photos : 57
Format: Soft cover A4 (210x297 mm)
ISBN 978-3-941437-23-4
RRP: around 17Euro + P&P from the Luftfahrtverlag-Start web page
52 photos - thereof 7 in colour,
 2 colour profiles, 1 coloured emblem,
 3 coloured maps, Readers forum

The Luftwaffe im Focus series is a dual German and English language series of books which features pretty much as the title says on the German aircraft and personnel of WWII. Being that this is issue twenty three most people would be pretty familiar with the layout but for those who aren’t we will look at the format and then what is in this edition in our review.

The portrait format Soft cover A4 (210x297 mm) is filled with fifty pages inside it’s glossy cover. The pages are of a quality feel and you cannot see through them. The book is full of large format pictures that are usually half a picture to a page in size.

There are several photo essays throughout the book. Sometimes a page or two and sometimes several. Of interest to me always as well is the reader’s forum. I always enjoy seeing readers converse with the author on something that he might not have known about or may have not had the research at the time of print (in one case here 12 years). I like to see this section of the book as it reminds us even experts in the field cannot know everything. It is a sign of humility on the author’s part.

I have given only four pages of this book in the review as the nature of unpublished pictures in a book to be reviewed makes it a bit wrong of me to show you them all here and ruin any exclusivity for the writers. I have then given a sample of the pages and most of the larger articles here.

We go from the editorial section with several singe pages each of different aircraft – an Me 262 A-1a of JG 7 that has crash landed in April 1945and a Blitz (Arado Ar-234) from III/KG 76 in a colourised film, an Fw 189 that has suffered the same fate as the ‘262 as well as an interesting close up rear view of a Junkers Ju-290, a DFS glider and a Stuka with an interesting nose art featuring a snorting rhinoceros before we go into the short photo essays section.
Five pages of text, a map and a large coloured profile tell the story of a “Ground Attack Pilot in the Closing Months of the War – Night Close-Support Missions by 2./EJG 2 in April-May 1945.”

In this article we learn about Ofhr. Othmar Schwendt-mayer and the rather interesting story as he and his comrades flew ground attack support against the Americans and the soviets from his base in Hagenow which was one of the last places to be captured in the war. The article takes us right up until the 5th of May 1945 and the profile, map and pictures are great inclusions. 
A double page spread of a JG 26 pilot who survived heavy damage to his cockpit of his Fw-190 – it makes interesting reading and an interesting set of pictures…

We go next to some colour Photos of a Seldom-Seen Kampfgeschwader (I./KG 28) He -111 bombers from this little known grouppe from the early war period.

There are some very good black and white as well as colour pictures of the Heinkels in this group along with some interesting shots of heavy damage to a bomber who surprisingly made it home with such severe damage.

Next we look at a high scoring ace in a section showing an aircraft with markings that looked faked or poorly researched to me – until I read the article the next section features the Fw 190 of Major Philipp Geschwaderkommodore of JG.1.
“Fipps” Philipp was a very high scoring ace of the war (2nd highest at one point) who was retired due to being too good at his job it seems – Often shooting down as many as seven enemy aircraft during a mission in Bf 109’s and Fw-190’s we learn more about this extraordinary flyer and his unique markings on this aircraft he flew called “Minke + Pinke” as well as where the name came from and what became of the pilot. The profile and pictures in this section are excellent.

Next we look at a simple but interesting coloured documents: II./NJG 1’s 100th Night Victory  is shown here on this coloured document. Several of you might know the emblem but these pictures and text tell you a little more about the actions of this unit in the early phase of nightfighter ops.

Speaking of unit heraldry we see several pictures of 7.(H)/12’s “Jaunty Dachshund” in the next three pages. This skinny shaggy dog decorated not just the Fi-156 Storch in the pictures but several other unit emblems and signs as well.

Next we look at the bombing of the Kramators-kaya Tank Works by the He-III’s of KG 55 in October 1941. Ten pages of extensive coverage written by Urbanke with the help of noted bomber expert Ulf Banke who sure knows his stuff as well.
The factory which made T-34’s and KVI & II’s for the soviets came under repeated attach from KG55 and we look at the factory before and after in recon shots, we have a map of the route taken by the bombers to this massive complex and we get to see pictures of the aircraft that flew them including as well again a severely damaged He-III that has a spent undetonated shell in the wing. This is a really interesting article with even a conversation by Hitler himself about the raids used as part of the text.

We look at the weirdly camo’ed tarp on the top of the glasshouse of a Stuka and the fate of a crew from KG 30 that was shot Down Over the Murmansk Railway in the Summer of 1942. After the attack of a railway bridge in the remote forests of Murmansk the surviving crew were forced to crash land and endure a march that saw only one of their number survive. It is a true endurance story and well written.

Well that is issue 23 – I thought I’d let you know exactly what I thought by taking you through it page by page as it isn’t really a single story but a series of several articles and pictures. What is here is skilfully sewn together and the articles are never too heavy. The stories and the pictures are both unique or little heard of before and so you really feel like you are reading this and seeing it for the first time which is hard in today’s world of the internet where you have seen it all before.

I liked this issue a lot and it’s a great edition to the books I am lucky enough to own in the series already – if you are a fan then do yourself a favour and get this one. If you aren’t a fan as of yet then take my word this is great stuff.

Adam Norenberg

Thanks to the people at Luftfahrtverlag-Start for this book to us to read and review