Monday, June 19

Read n' reviewed: Luftwaffe Im Focus Edition No. 26 from Luftfahrtverlag Start

New editions of the Luftwaffe im Focus series always spike our interest. A Mixture of large format, previously unpublished photos and some well researched journalistic detective work are the perfect combinations which have few peers in this genre. How does this, the twenty-sixth issue fare against its brothers/sister publications? We read it and thought you should know what Is inside issue 26.
Read n' reviewed: Luftwaffe Im Focus Edition No. 26
Written & Compiled by Axel Urbanke
Publisher: Luftfahrtverlag Start
Languages: dual German / English text on each page
Pages: 54 + inside & outside cover pages
A4 Softcover - Dimensions: 29,5 x 21 cm
over 50 photos, 2 profiles, 54 pages.

The team behind the Luftwaffe im Focus issues have just released their latest book in the series that is known as a bit of a yardstick in the military history pictorial genre. The Luftwaffe im Focus issue twenty-six is a dual German and English language books which feature new, unpublished photos and stories about the aircraft and men of the Luftwaffe in WWII. Never heard of it? Let me take you through the physical for of LIF 26.
The books comes in the same form a lot of you might be used to in this series. An A4 (210x297 mm) portrait format glossy softcover that is filled with fifty-four pages of dual German and English text that accompany in this case over fifty pages ( two of them in colour) and two full-colour profiles on fold-out pages from Juanita Franzi. The glossy paper inside is thick in quality and the books are of a feel between a high-class brochure and a light, large format book. Mine has been in my bag for at least a week and it still looks "schmick".
These pages feature several stories, often one or two pages, often just a picture or two, and sometimes up to ten pages, that contain a regular set of scenarios of WWII tales. The team behind these books, Axel & Benedicte Urbanke, go far and wide and receive correspondence from even further afield that fills these books with a constant stream of new and unpublished stories and pictures. 1945 was a LONG time ago, and the fact that Urbanke constantly comes out with new volumes of this series makes them very much worth a look. This is what is inside issue twenty-six.
Luftwaffe im Focus Edition No. 26 Contents:
-Readers Forum
-Training Aircraft: Fighter training in the final hours
-Fighters/ Nightfighters/ Bombers
-Personal Emblems: Obergruppenfuhrer Hausser's Fieseler Storch communications Aircraft
-Colour Photos: The Junkers Ju 86 V24 - an Unlucky Aircraft
-Tails: The Tail of the Fw 190 flown by Ofw. Kurt Knappe of 5./JG 51 and 10./JG 2
-Aircraft in Focus: Fw 200 Condor with the Wave Mirror Camouflage Scheme -Unknown Emblems: The Smart Airbase at Rovaniemi
-Documents: Fw 190 handover Certificate issued by 9./JG 11
-Photos with a Story: Combat Missions over the Kerch Strait
-Fates pf I./KG 100 crews
-Scenery: Camouflage in the Billefjord
-Unusual sights

Let's go through the book in section by section to show you what exactly is in the book before we talk about sums things up.

The book features several regular sections, and as usual starts of with a section that I always like to see – the reader's forum. Along with the Author's work, a regular source fo new information is from the community of historians, enthusiasts and readers of the magazine itself. New information on old stories and sometimes alternate ideas, facts, corrections and points of view are offered up in the regular reader's forum. Some interesting tidbits in here that only add to the interest from the community and speak of the generosity of spirit of an author who wants the best for his readers. I was interested to see a story that I remember reading from an earlier issue about a pilot with facial wounds, and what happened to him. “ohhh that was that fellow” etc.
The author also offers up his points of view on what's going on in this issue and the future issues. I noted with interest two facts from this editorial, the fact that Luftwaffe-Start will now concentrate their efforts on the Luftwaffe & U-boat Im Focus series instead of new larger format books

As well as this, I read with interest the authors decision to watermark all of the photos in their books from now on. After hearing the reasons, and seeing that, indeed, the pictures in this book ARE watermarked, it serves as sensible that in my reviews you may not see a full picture for that same reason. Do not worry though, as the quality of the pictures are unhindered by a watermark that you only see if looking for it. Hopefully, this will help keep the author's work from the secondary market.

Our first real section before stories is devoted to small snippets of different machines of the Luftwaffe. We see the Ar-96 training planes of II/JG106 in the air and on the ground, we learn a little about flying training in the Luftwaffe in those final parts of the war where men and fuel were scarce. A log book of one of the pilots, although a little small, it is a lovely insight and a common theme of the personal side of the men who flew the machines.

After this we go straight into some smaller vignettes, a few pages at a time are devoted to fighters, the Fw 190 A-2, from 7./JG 2, in 1942. A Bf 109 F-4/Z, from 6./JG 53 in 1942 and the Fw 190 of JG 300 flown by none other than (famous) Major Gunter Rall. We also look at night fighters in two pages, featuring two photos of the rare “flying pencil” Do 217 J with the Lichtenstein C-1 in 1943 and the Ju 88 C-6, R4 + GF. Lastly, we see some day bombers, featuring the Junkers Ju 88 S-3 from I./KG 66 in 1945 and lastly the Ju 188 A-2, I./KG 2 in 1944.
We look next at a semi-regular section about “Personal Emblems”. In this section we hear about Obergruppenfuhrer Hausser's flying – or should we say landing mishap in his Fieseler Storch communications Aircraft, and the large house that he used as an improvised strip. We see the first of the colour profiles by Juanita Franzi of this machine and hear about the circumstances of the rough “landing” over four pages of text and diorama inspiring photos.
Next, we go to the Farbfotos or the “Colour Photos” section. This issue we learn about the Junkers Ju 86 V24. A rare aircraft adaption to most people. This kite was an engine testbed, and as you could imagine, maybe prone to a mishap or two. In two large colour, and other black and white photos we see the aircraft in it's prime, and in rather less healthy circumstances at its demise.
We see the scores of the Fw 190 flown by Ofw. Kurt Knappe of 5./JG 51 and 10./JG 2 in one page and picture before heading to another large section the “Aircraft in Focus”. This time the giant Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor with the Wave Mirror Camouflage Scheme is captured. The first thing you will notice is the large fold out gatefold profile of the aircraft, again illustrated by Juanita Franzi again. Pretty good profiles of what looks like an interesting and probably effective camouflage. The story is told over nine pages and a map. As well as a description of the camo, we have pictures showing the Condor on the ground, it's crew and the aircraft in the air. These photos are from outside and inside of the aircraft and include one of a Condor actual combat -. An interesting inclusion was the image of the engine control board with an operator at the controls. Something I did not know about before.
We have two pages, of a front signage from the Airbase at Rovaniemi in Lapland and in the “Documents” section a photo and copy of the certificate handover to an Fw 190 pilot issued by 9./JG 11 to the pilot as a sort of promise for high levels of service – interesting motivation.

Next, we go to a favourite of mine – the regular “Photos with a Story” sections are usually longer stretches of the book that the there is enough material to devote several (here fourteen pages including two colour photos) to. This issue we follow the story of the “Combat Missions over the Kerch Strait” of I./KG 100 and it's pilots in their He 111's.
The story follows Lt. Schmidt and his crew. Told by Obgefr Helmut Peukert on his return from the mission in a lovely, animated and uplifting style of how they went out on a mission, bombed and strafed, were shot down, and their amazing escape across frozen strait to rescue. This story is told just like someone relaying it as if it was just yesterday. The fellow sure can write.
The struggle across the ice and the hardships they found is mirrored by another shorter story about an unsuccessful crew's journey and several pictures of the unit's bombers, the aerial mines they dropped, the crew and lastly the fates of the men. A great read...

We have two more pages in the book, a floatplane perfectly camouflaged in Billefjord and a Ju-52's interior packed with unusually stacked spare self-defence MG ammo, lastly the back cover with Arado floatplanes in three pictures and text.

Well – that is the contents of Issue twenty-six.

The work that goes into the finding of these stories, the people, the photos and the sheer amount of research that goes into this books is staggering. At only fifty-four pages there may not be much paper in here, but the knowledge, inspiration and entertainment (for the want of a better word) are worth every bit of the 20-odd euro asking price. This is a really worthy stable mate to the twenty-five issues before it and a credit to the publishing team who brought these stories to life.

Adam Norenberg

This book is now available through the mail order page for around 18 – 24 Euro (That is including P&P depending on where you live) from the Luftfahrtverlag-Start web page Thanks to them for sending us this issue to read and review for you...