Monday, July 25

Read & Reviewed: U-boat Im focus Issue 13 from luftfahrtverlag-start.de

We got our hands on the newest issue of “U-boat Im Focus” and got reading straight away. Although sailors are often superstitious we thought we would do a report of this – no# 13 in the series to put your minds at rest. See what we thought in our review…

Read n' Reviewed: U-boat Im Focus No#13 By Axel Urbanke
Published by: luftfahrtverlag-start
Softcover 50 pages, 52 photos, & 1 colour profile
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

...And it’s that time of year that U-boat lovers can rejoice – the next issue of Luftfahrtverlag-start’s series of softcover books on these boats and her crews has been released. Ours arrived all nicely wrapped from Germany and we got down to examining it for you all ASAP.

Physically these books are of an A4 portrait form, with a soft, glossy cover which is in a dark blue in keeping with the others in this nautical series. The book opens up to the thick pages with mostly black and white pictures to illustrate it, but often a few coloured pages and profile illustrations are inside to better show what is being talked about.
The Luftfahrtverlag-start team bring out a new “U-Boot Im Focus” about every three months or so. They are about fifty pages (50 exactly in this case) and the writing is in a dual German and English language format. The text I usually find – and have found again in this issue again, to be very informative and engrossing. Especially in the longer pieces, the writing envelopes you and takes you to the scene in the detail and feel for what is going on. You want to know everything you can about the story being told and the people in the story’s fate. It is a gift of this author that he can get the emotion and drama through in not only German as well as English so well.
The other feature that is more visually prominent of the use of never before seen large format photographs in each book. We are lucky in this issue to have several war-time colour photos also included. These photos come from the prized possessions of collectors and the families of passed sailors. The photos are of an exclusive nature, and often new facts are found through close and careful examination of the team, led by author Axel Urbanke. There are also maps (sometimes only in German) that describe voyages and areas of patrol as well as diagrams or illustrations of profiles by artists like we have in this issue...

Let’s stop talking ABOUT the book and look more at the contents in a walkthrough of the contents of U.I.F.#13…

It has always made me wonder why this publisher chose to look just at U-boats and not ships – but the readers and contributors who fill their “Readers Forum” section at the start of this and every issue give me a good idea why. Readers are encouraged to contribute to, and correct if necessary, the stories in the former issues of the boo. Often little gems will be uncovered after the book is published by the authors or the readers, and I always enjoy reading the comments by the community in this section.
We see some pictures of oilskin jackets to add to a previous book, and we also look at a strange “drag race” of sorts between three training subs, and then we get onto the first large section of the book which features on the conning towers of several boats. These though have something “special” about them.
This section takes us through pictures and text of several boats that have the alteration seen on Mediterranean boats called “La Spezia.” This was an inclusion of two Italian made Breda machine guns mounted on the specially widened and lengthened conning tower “Winter Garden” to house the upgraded defensive AA armament.

Why this conversion was called La Spezia and whether it was effective are talked about over several pages of text captions and images showing different boats and crews from several angles. What is also included here is a coloured profile of this new tower design by Juanita Franzi which is well drawn and fleshes it out in full colour.
More conning tower action is seen in a continuation of colour and of the front page image in the centre of this book. In the “Farbfotos” section, which highlights, in both colour and black and white the anti-personnel boxes on some of the boats which protected against shrapnel and shellfire on the towers of these modified boats.

We next look at some boats in detail in the “Boot Im Focus” and this one is the experiments of the camouflage of the Typ II boats in 1939. This section shows a few pages of alternative colour patterns of a few boats with another great (this time full submarine) profile by Juanita Franzi.

Two pages of single page articles are next – one about the “Schwarze Lowe” on the conning tower of a Type VII-C boat and the other page being about the Crossing the Line ceremony and voyage of U-862 which journeyed to Penang which is captured on this printed, coloured document issued to the sailors on board.
More relics next – with a larger section in the book that is devoted to victory pennants of U-201 and the sinking in controversial circumstances of the passenger steamer, the “Avilla Star” in 1942. We see pictures of both the liner and also shots of the U-boat on patrol and in readiment to come back into port, victorious.

The author describes not only the attack on the Liverpool-bound passenger steamer but also the need to use extra torpedos and why they did it. The liner’s efforts to escape being sunk and what happened when the SOS was being sent out. This is a grim story about war from the side of the hunter and also we learn what happened to the sunken crew and passengers. It’s not easy reading in peace time but these were times of war. The honesty in the text is appreciated by this reader.

We go all “Luftwaffen” with a picture of two seamen who are wearing bartered air force pilot’s gear before we look at the “photos with a story” featurette for this issue. Several pages are dedicated to U-35, and we hear about her collision with the battleship “Admiral Graf Spee” with pictures of both vessels before and after as well as a map and some excellent text telling fact from fiction about the event.

Seeing the pictures of the shredded hull of U-35 and reading about the apparent lack of damage to the battleship, you are amazed at the strength of both vessels. Very good shots here of something I had not seen in pictures before.

Next, we look at the sailors of U-575 and their sweaters that were labelled “Lilliput” and now because of this book and the coloured pictures we find out why in an amusing style. We round out this issue with two single pages detailing of the internal explosion in U-67 and the “Gluck Auf” emblem on the conning tower of U-667.
This is a very mixed edition, with more of what we like in the photos with a story, colour photos & Boat in focus sections, along with several interesting one, or two-page diversions in-between. I won’t lie to you – I really like this series, and I have high expectations of these issues. This book has many closer images than the last one did, we look more at the sailors and the boats in close up it seems. However, I like this issue just as much as the ones I had already read and reviewed.

I don’t know how they do it, where all of this new stuff comes from, but I can tip my hat to the author and his team to say congratulations on a great issue (lucky) 13!

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