Saturday, March 14

Review: U-boat Im focus Issue 11 New pictures and stories for “U-boot Imthusiasts” in our review…

 We got a sneak peek at one of the boats in this book with their recent U-Boat Decals in many scales – now with the new  issue 11 of “U-boat Im Focus” we look at much more in the world of new images and cutting edge research of what went on below (and above) 70 years ago…

No#11 - U-boat Im Focus 

from Axel Urbanke 
Published by : luftfahrtverlag-start
Softcover 54 pages
A4 Portrait Format
Dual English/German text
available now from the luftfahrtverlag-start webpage or from their re-sellers worldwide in subscription or as single issues

It’s that time for U-boat lovers to feel happy again. We have the new U-boat Im Focus in our hands and this one – No #11 looks to be a great issue from what we have seen included – let’s have a look in our review at what lies beneath…

This issue of this popular periodical book breaks no ground on newness – a strict formula is adhered to when it comes to looks and form. Those familiar with this series will appreciate that if you have a few of these magazines they soon add up to a very nice looking collection of books. Complementing the “Luftwaffe Im Focus” series in a red binding. This dark blue bound series of books is in A4 Portrait format with soft cover shiny binding and always well serviced with interesting photos – especially the covers front and rear (below).
“Submarine history from enthusiasts for enthusiasts” is what is written on the front cover of this book. Never has a truer word been said about most of the community that read these books, as they do get very much involved in the process and have been encouraged to do by the publishers. Veterans and their families send in pictures and information from their own archives and the readers are also indulged with a reader’s forum at the start of each book in order to correct or to hopefully to help clarify certain facts in the books already published in the series. In fact without the help of the community the authors have suggested that the next issue is already nearly finished. It seems the U-boat fans gather round their subject and relish any source of new info – whereas more often than not it often isn’t that acrimonious in other modelling fraternities. This is a book for the fans written by people who are keenly interested in the subject and it comes through on the pages.

Let’s look closer at what is in this issue shall we?

The book is broken up into smaller sections of two, three or four pages which deal with a particular subject on the boats, their markings, missions, a dedicated overview of a boat and sometimes the fate of the boat and crew. This is supported with maps diagrams of certain details of the subs like heraldry and even a fold out profile of U-438 as well (phooaaarrr.)
The text is in both English and German – clearly demarked I only found one mistake in the writing where a few words were left out. The book is very well written – which I will delve into later.  And the photos – many not seen before – are all greatly full of insight and interesting.

U-Boot Im Focus II Contents
Reader´s Forum     
Das „bunte“ Funkgerät von U-48 
Zwischen Fronteinsatz und Propagandaauftritt (Schepke)     
Der „springende Tiger“ von U-196
Type VII C Boats - U-69 in 1941 & U-415 in 1944 
Type IX C Boats U-507 in 1942
Unknown Emblems – Two different forgotten crest from U-boats.
Armament – Photos showing AA guns on several U-boats:U-264, 1943, U-339, 1941, U-968, 1944 
Conning Towers -  (U-24) The camouflaged and “hump backed cat" at sea 
Unusual- Unusual marking on the sailor’s oilskin jackets
Scenery- The shipyard of Lorient! (U-103 und U-106)       
Boat in Focus - U-438 – “Haifischmaul“ (shark-mouth) U-Boat
Document -A swimming certificate of 12 U-Flotilla
Fate - Sunk in Narvik - the history and fate of U -64 and it’s rising in 1957
Cap Badges - Rear cover pictures of cap badges in full colour

The first part of the book deals with the editor’s notes (no 12 is on the way- that is good news) and the reader’s forum where people write in to offer more evidence, corrections and enhancements to the books already printed. I said before what a great idea this is to incorporate your audience into the book making and it works well here.

Some forgotten emblems are shown both in illustrations of the crests and pictures of the subs with informative text on both of these forgotten or lost boat art. Next we look at some interesting shots which incorporate the cover art. These series talk a little about the armaments that were installed on the upper decks of U-Boats more and more as the threat from above (the air – not so much the water above) developed as the war went on. The author gives us details of certain intricacies and developments of this self-defence gear. 
Next we get to “Turms” with turrets. We look at the Conning tower of an early boat – U-24 as it trials with experimental camouflage in the start of the war. Also we look at the very cool cat painted on the front and sides of the tower. The fate of the boat and almost resurrection as a soviet sub are talked about in this article.
We look at the not-often seen jackets of the deck crew in the next part of the book. The reader contributions are a great help here as friends assist the author with their own knowledge as to what the symbols on the sailors back mean. The sub base at Lorient is discussed in a few pictures and text before the real meat of this book. A shark-toothed U-boat.

Before we even got this book we reviewed recently some new decals for several U-boats of many types and scales  that were promised to be revealed in a story in U-boot Im focus number 11. So we waited anxiously to see the story about the interesting shark mouthed submarine that many though did not exist.
The story of this shark mouth Sub is a great yarn. We learn firstly about how the sub was forgotten until only recently. Pictures were thought to have been not real or made up. The community here has gotten together and now the author was able to give us not only another scheme for their decal sheet but also this tale of the service and fate of U438 and her crew.
This subs’ four missions are coloured with twenty odd pages in a wealth of photographs and her captain of all but one mission and his crew. Dramatic photos of a sea rescue of another U-boat and their return to safe waters as well as the maps that traced the journey colour this story but the really good bit is just the storytelling. The way in which these men struggled under increasing pressure from Destroyers and aircraft with ASDIC is just great to read and the author really has conveyed the hopeless struggle of these crews as the tables turned against them.
The gatefold section that opens up to show you a full colour profile of U-438 as well as a close up of the “Haifischmaul“(shark-mouth) U-Boat make a great impression. Hmm what was I going to do with those decals? If this story doesn’t sell these markings I don’t know what will.
It is one of the many stories in this book that go from one subject to another in two, three or in this case several pages. Next we look at another adventure – this time two stories intertwined. The story of the wartime U-boat U-64 is told here in a much smaller scale than the previous story on U-438, but just as tragic an ending.

The continuation of this story involves a reader’s submission that tells of a real boys-own adventure that he and his friend undertook when on travelling from Germany to Narvik in Norway they discover a “temporary unguarded” and raised back to the surface the aforementioned U-64. 
This story tells of how these guys snuck aboard and toured the boat – thinking the whole time they would get busted and suffer a similar fate to the sub. It’s like a boyhood adventure story and it is complimented with several colour photos showing the sub after it was raised from a watery grave with the boys on board. What an adventure!

To round out this book there is lastly a story on the “Iron Hand” emblem worn on a boat’s servicemen’s caps with photographs of these artefacts in colour.

This book has really been lifted by these two large stories of the fates of the shark-mouth U-438 and the sub raised from the deep U-64. The other stories are excellent as well and it’s not only the great photos and writing, illustrations and maps but the enthusiasm and love it all seems to be put together with. I admire the author’s skill in storytelling and the book is very polished.

A great addition to the series and a very good read.

Adam Norenberg

Thanks to the team at luftfahrtverlag-start for sending us this book to read and review - You can get this from the luftfahrtverlag-start webpage or their re-sellers worldwide