Friday, January 27

Read n' Reviewed - Erik Mombeeck's new Luftwaffe Gallery 5

We always look forward to seeing a few special author's works every year, Erik Mombeeck's works are in that category. It is also always interesting to see if the standard we judge them by is being upheld. It was with interest then that we received Erik's new book "Luftwaffe Gallery #5" Let's see if he is keeping his end of the bargain in our review...

Read n' Reviewed: Luftwaffe Gallery # 5
Written & Published by Erik Mombeeck
56 pages, softcover, in A4 Landscape format
96 photographs (most of them unpublished before),
28 colour artworks by Thierry Dekker,
personal accounts from Luftwaffe personnel
Price: 18 Euros/ US$19.90 plus postage.

Product Link

Over a period of over twenty five years now, Erik Mombeeck has been collecting interviews, pictures and paraphernalia from survivors of the WWII conflict from all around the world. As the readers of his book, we have been the welcome recipients of some before unknown knowledge, unpublished pictures and accounts from the battlefields in the sky during that conflict. With new material becoming more rare, forgotten, and sometimes lost altogether – every book seems like it is harder to produce for these types of historians. However, a new generation has been exposed to their grandparents memoirs and photos through them often being passed down over the years, and still more new material is now coming to light. Let's see what is in this – the 5th instalment of this popular Luftwaffe pictorial...
Each of these books is a landscape, A4 softcover format. This volume is fifty-six 56 pages, with ninety six photos inside. Most if not all of these unpublished before. We also have twenty eight lovely profiles and artworks by the very talented Thierry Dekker included.

In this issue we have:
1) Emblem Gallery: Raining Cats And Dogs
2) Camouflage Gallery: Jg 2 Mottle Musings In Collaboration With Neil Page
3) Markings Gallery: All In A Spin – Colourful Spinners
4) Unit Gallery I : Six Months With 2./JG 2, from Eagle To Owl
5) Unit Gallery II: Wekusta 2 In All Weathers by Pierre Babin
6) Readers Corner
...all for a 18 Euros price tag – so to me so far this book looks like quite an achievement – but it is the contents that count – so let's have a look through the book.

The book starts off with a nice introduction. This fleshes out the contents of the book, but also denotes the many noted historians that contribute to this book. There is quite an interesting team of enthusiasts involved in this book and it is another promising sign of what's inside.

The first section of the book is called "Raining Cats & Dogs" – and it highlights the many emblems and insignia of the feline and canine that were draped on German WWII pilot's mounts in the past.
Some really well known emblems of hunds und katze are on show, in picture form combined with text to describe the scenario, or or in profile from from Thierry Dekker. Sometimes we see a picture of the aircraft and then the profile right next to it to better illustrate the markings and colours which are provided, which really brings a little more life to each of the subjects. There are some beautiful aircraft in this section, including a various number of Bf-109, Fw 190, Stukas, Zerstorers – all of the earlier Luftwaffe mainstays really in some lovely quality pictures. The emblems themselves are also replicated in large full colour drawings.

To illustrate the many emblems and pilots of the book, we thought you might recognise some of these decorations, the dackell of JG77 biting the Russian aircraft (and the story behind those dogs) the well known "Rudel" stukas with the red and black Scottish terrier from the Immelman group. The interesting English top hat wit american & British flags on them being pee'd on by a nice little dog is something i had never seen before. The famous "Bonzo" of JG2 and the longer limbed cat with an arched back are here amongst the many emblems. This is a major part of the book and all of the shots here held some interest for me, enough to want to know more about them from the author's text.
The next section of the book explains and shows images of the changes in camouflage of several aircraft in the early phases of the war, from the Polish campaign through to August in 1940, which was well into the Battle of Britain era. These aircraft are all Bf 109e models, but they all have something interesting to them that the author points out. The study also involves the pilots, ground crew and their pooches as well that give you a nice slice of their life on the airfield 'round these aircraft.
Through the use of the excellent pictures of these aircraft, often in a varied state of repair or disrepair, to the emblems or personal markings reproduced by the artist and then the next dimension of bringing these aircraft into colour with the profiles of nearly every craft here. For me, each of these aircraft are kind of brought to life from this mix of photographic and modern artistic reproduction in colour. I have studied the profiles to see if there was anything missed, and indeed there were some things I would have missed if it was not for the diligence of the artist Mr Thierry Dekker. He must have studied these pictures very hard to pick out the smallest detail that he has included in these profiles. A great discussion on how and why the markings of these fighters changed through the periods of slightly different use by the Luftwaffe.
We go into a spin next with the next section. A three page study of some of the variety of really different spinner patterns that we often see on Luftwaffe aircraft. There are a bunch of smaller shots in this small section, but the subjects are however interesting to me.
Next off we look at the 2.JG 2 unit and their transition over a six month period from the Fw 190a in the famous black hawk nosed fighter emblem in day time missions over France. These are some of the most iconic looking butcher birds, and this unit history during that period is brought out mostly this time in block text, with the pictures mostly there to add colour to the writing. The personal accounts included in this short section of five pages are the real cream here and I love to read first hand accounts like these.

The profiles of the butcher birds, from the Falcon-nosed day fighters to the nearly all over RLM 76 birds used in night time interception duties are present again and they add a lot to the book, especially for modellers.

Lastly in this book another short chapter, this time another section of mainly text based story telling concerning the weather recon unit "Wekusta 2" who flew mainly heavy Ju-88's, He-111's and later He 177's.
Again we have a lot of text with pilot's accounts interlaced in there, also pictures of the aircraft and profiles to match them. Just enough to keep the modeller and the enthusiast engaged I feel. The letters are haunting, and the last letter to a parent of a flyer lost in a tragic accident are something you would never want to read about your own child, but just so insightful as an inclusion here.

As usual the reader's corner at the end of the book adds feedback from the strong enthusiast community.
Well that is it for this edition of LuGA – I think no.5 is a worthy addition ot the series, and the fact that our author Mr Mombeeck keeps on unearthing new material that is conveyed in such an interesting and professional fashion should be acknowledged.

This is a great read, reference and conversation piece for Aircraft and Luftwaffe historians alike.

Adam Norenebrg

You can order the Lu/Ga 5 sending a message here Check out Erik's site for more on his books, his personal blog and Luftwaffe history.