Saturday, May 23

Read & Reviewed: U-boat Im focus Issue 12 from luftfahrtverlag-start.de

 We get a sneak peek the brand new issue 12 of “U-boat Im Focus” and it left us wanting to see more so we were anxious to see how this latest book in the luftfahrtverlag-start catalogue would fare. Let’s have a look in our review…

U-boat Im Focus No#12
By Axel Urbanke 
Published by: luftfahrtverlag-start
Softcover 54 pages
A4 Portrait Format
Dual English/German text
available 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 #12 looks to be a great issue from what we have seen included – let’s have a look in our review at what lies beneath…

For those well used to the format they need no description, but for those who aren’t sure the luftfahrtverlag-start team bring out a new “U-Boot Im Focus” about every three months or so. They are about fifty pages (54 in this case) and a softcover portrait format in an A4 size. A coloured glossy cover opens to thick pages with mostly black and white pictures but a few coloured pages and profile illustrations are inside. 

Writing in these books are both in German and English captions that describe both the action and any precedence’s including several calls to previous issues and events already covered in the series. There are also maps (sometimes only in German) that describe voyages and areas of patrol. There are some good stories in this book in the regular block text style of course. Some of these stories are just great to read and really make you understand the harsh consequences of sometimes quite a savage time.
The timing of this book incidentally is very important. Issue twelve covers the last year of WWII. 1945 is the subject of this issue and the late war submarine missions are often strange and not like the usual convoy duty we all know about so I was very interested to read about those times. I think several others will feel the same way.

We thought now would be a good time to do a visible walkthrough of the contents of U.I.F.#12..

The first page in the book reveals some interior shots of U-18 in 1943 then we look at the usual feature Editorial / Reader Forum. This is a great section and the readers, who seem to me to be a really tight community, are invited to ask questions and submit corrections and sometimes pictures. This is a great way for the authors to get the right information out and to also keep their readership engaged. This book and the others I have read feels like a collected effort by not only the publishing house but the veterans and their relative who continue to provide the stories published inside.

We do get to see some early war boats in this book as well as later war stuff. Captured is the type VII C boat U-382 in 1943/44 and the Lucky number 13 emblem as well as the type VII B boat U-52 in 1941/42, with it’s conning tower penguin illustration on it’s conning tower in the frigid northern polar operational sorties. We also look at the U-68 in 1941 with special focus on her commander in several pictures.
We then go to the later war stuff – with the “Electric Boats” U-2524, U-3514 & U-2502 in 1945. Their futuristic looking and well-armed conning towers are shown to good effect here. We learn in the text of the scuttling of a boat and the selfless sacrifice of one of her soldiers and the surrender of several of these boats in Ireland at war’s end. Next we look at the training boat (Type IX C) U-10. The "Buffalo head" emblem of this sub is seen in a clear pictures and further illustrated by not only the text but also the lovely colour profile by Juanita Franzi which is a great inclusion. 
We turn the page to see a dramatic scene.. The bombing raid on Kiel in 1943 was the start of a lot more to come. The subs in the port were camouflaged but here in several pages of photos, block text, a map of the port and captions we see not only the aftermath but also the repairs to the scene and gradual sinking of the dock these subs were being repaired on. Little details like the repair of buildings and the planks used to cross from sunken sub to sub are really interesting here.
Previously unseen period colour shots are like gold this long after the war. But two very good colour photos and text are next in the book. I did not add them as these pictures are the real gold of this book and as the authors comment on in the letters section, several of them like these have been bandied about for profit as originals on Ebay. The photos in this book are ALL original and unpublished and they are filled with information on painting, weathering and creating your own U-boat diorama.

The largest story in this book is next.  We learn all about the journey and fate of U 249 in the “Boat in Focus” section. This boat, with the FuMB 35 Athos radar in the “Stovepipe” installation on the conning tower is discussed including the German’s dabbling in radar during the late part of the war. Two illustrated maps, several pictures and an illustration of the ship’s emblem with comparison pictures and coloured profile illustration of the conning tower fill this story. To further illustrate this epic journey of the boat there are some great pictures of the ship’s crew and it’s end journey in the captured port in Portland in the south of England. This is an engrossing story and full of insight from the author and pictures.
We look at the correction to everyone’s thought of the emblem on the conning tower of U-387 which until now all thought was a Moor but because of photo evidence we now know he was a boy! The story of the “fair-skinned Moor” and the propaganda leaflet dropped by the RAF and kept by an unknown sailor upon punishment of death by firing squad. Artefacts like this and the story that goes along with them are a great personal touch in these books.
We next look at a section “Photos with a Story: U-1406 and U-1407 - sunk or they surrendered when the war ended?” which details the story of the futuristic looking Type XVII B boats that were to be handed over to the Allied forces at the end of the war. Two boats and their commanders were placed in an unusual situation of having to hand over their very advanced U-Boats and the decision whether or not to scuttle their boats or hand them over weighted heavy on their shoulders.

Several orders and counter orders were issued to scuttle and then to hand over these boats and arguments and orders were issued and in the end the captains of the boats took matters into their own hands. The story is a great little adventure and well worth the read. The excellent colour profile and B/W shots of these advanced boats in dry dock from several angles are something not offered in man publications and they are great here.
The last ten pages offer smaller stories along with several good shots to accompany them. The "Ordnungsaufruf" of the Hauswirts or “Order of the landlord” sign on the bulwark of U-148 is interesting to not exactly what the “landlord” or Captain had to write down were excluded from coming aboard (a surprising list.) There is also the story of U-622 which was sunk its home port in Trondheim in 1943. This is a great story over a few pages with a diagram of the port and the position of the boats and buildings. The rescue of the trapped sailors inside is great to see covered from the war diary of a survivor of the bombing.

Lastly there is a single page and rear cover with three pictures and text showing a torpedo reload during the 3rd patrol of U-221 at sea.

That is it for this issue. The smattering of 1941-44 articles ad to the theme of mostly late war stories from the U-boat crews. The colour profiles are excellent and the letters section is always good to weed through. The stars of this book are the two large stories that are true “U-boat Im Focus” gold, and play out like “boys own” adventures and the other smaller stories add colour and a lot of different aspects of the boats, their sailors and lives to this edition.

We were looking forward to this and now I feel all the more informed by reading it. Urbanke really has a great knack of bringing these stories to life and yet again he has shown us an insight into the U-boat sailor’s lives I do not see anywhere else in print.

Adam Norenberg


Thanks to the team for sending this - You can get this from the luftfahrtverlag-start webpage or their re-sellers worldwide