Monday, March 18

Kagero's Units: 2 - JG 54. Green Heart Fighters in review

Kagero’s “Units” series continues with a great subject  - the unit of Jagdgeschwader 54 – the “green Hearts”  - this grouppe had many aces and served right throughout the second world war in several different types – so lot of choices for the three scales of decals which accompany them! Let’s look in our review

Marek J. Murawski

32 pages - A4 landscape softcover 
49 pictures and 5 aircraft profiles
Decals in 1/72 + 1/48th & 1/32nd scales
Decals printed by Cartograf.
ISBN 978-83-62878-43-7
Available from Kagero Directly at this link
Price: €15.71

Kagero continue with their second title in the ‘Units’ series  that this time has been given over to another popular subject – the  famous Jagdgeschwader 54 – called the “Green Hearts” because of the green heart emblem worn on their aircraft (of course).
This is a A4 landscape book of thirty two pages given over to the unit. The text is in English and the pictures are a plenty and in good quality right throughout the book. We see many different types of aircraft the unit flew with as the text meanders through the short history of this unit. From the early combats in France and the battle of Britain where the unit was in the BF 109E types, through to the Balkans and Operation Barbarossa (the invasion of Soviet Union) where the unit was converted to Bf-109F models, and the heavy fighting around Leningrad, right through operation “Zitadel” (Kursk) when JG 54 was transitioned to the Fw 190 A aircraft. Although we only have one picture of a “Dora” Fw 190 – and a small one at that from the final months in Western Europe  – the lack of pictures of this aircraft which wasn’t used that much  considering the time scale - doesn’t for one minute detract from the wealth of the other 49 images here.

The story of the unit itself is a brief one, at thirty two pages there is never going to be a definitive history of the unit and all of it’s many actions in several different theatres and famous pilots. However most of the famous pilots from the unit are mentioned and often captured in photographs – aces like Nowotny, Kittlel Phillipp and stolz are mentioned, some like Nowotny  get more coverage than others, but even lower scoring aces like their C/O Weiss gets a mention. You get the feeling that this could easily be a much bigger book if Kagero wanted it to be. Therefore one must reason that this, and the other books in the series are a serial of sorts to get you into the history of each unit rather than a comprehensive all in one book. One wonders if all together this series would be a massive tome of information, and that is how I look at this title. Like a chapter from one of the Luftwaffe’s units.
There are four coloured plates in the book – drawn very nicely – the illustrator does deserve a compliment, as the aircraft are showing some signs of wear that they may do in real service  - I think though less wear and tear than most modellers will show! They are:
Messerschmitt Bf 109 F-2; 'White 9', flown by Oblt. Hans Philipp, Staffelkapitän of 4./JG 54, Mal. Owsischtschi, 10 August 1941,

Bücker Bü 131 D-2; W.Nr. 1683, coded 'KG+GB' of 2./JG 54, Krasnogvardeysk airfield, Russia, late March 1942,

Messerschmitt Bf 109 G-2; 'Blue 5' of 7./JG 54, probably Isotscha airfield in Smolensk area, Russia, winter of 1942-1943,

Focke-Wulf Fw 190 A-5; W.Nr. 0150 1501, 'White 4', flown by Oblt. Walter Nowotny, Staffelkapitän of 1./JG 54, Russia, summer 1943.

To accompany these coloured profiles is a sheet of decals printed by market leaders Cartograf. Kagero have done the right thing and gotten the best quality decals they could get printed. I am impressed by the virtual zero visible carrier film and the strength of the colours. The whites are not opaque and the small artwork – even on the crests in 72nd scale are all excellent and in register.
The only thing I would add here are some swastikas. National marking would be sourced from the kit – and a lot of makers don’t supply swastikas. That would be my only addition to this set of otherwise excellent markings. Nice to see the uncommon choice of the Bücker Bü 131 in there as well!
Lastly there is a useful chart of the famous aces and C/O’s of JG 54. Tallies of kills, medals awarded really reflect the service of these airmen of this unit – the highest scoring ace here had 267 kills – whilst the lowest ace represented had 25 kills – that would have been one of the top aces in Allied service. These men were pushed to fly until they were wounded, captured or killed. There want an easy out here. Also recorded are the different types of aircraft the sections of JG 54 flew which explains why there aren’t many pictures of the “Doras” to this reviewer – they only had 47 in total!
All in all a great chapter of the Luftwaffe, not a total comprehensive warts and all conception to aftermath history in the usual sense, but not a glossed over account either. This book falls somewhere in the middle really. This title will make you an armchair “experten” on this unit in the hour or so it takes to read the book. The profiles and decals are just a bonus (and what a good bonus they are.) This should get you enthused to break out your Fw-190 and have it in Oblt. Walter Nowotny’s colours!

A small but very nice package

Adam Norenberg

Thanks to Kagero for sending this to review.