Saturday, March 9

Review - Monographs Special Edition 1 - Messerschmitt Bf 109 F. - The Ace Maker

Kagero have made a good choice for the launch book in their new “Monographs Special Edition series” – the Bf-109F fighter – a very popular aircraft that saw some of the decisive fighting of WWII. We have the book and have read it and well telly you what we thought


Marek J. Murawski
184 pages
228 B/W photos,44 colour profiles
20 sheets of 1/48 and 1/72 scale drawings + A2 size sheet printed on both sides 1/32 scale drawings
A4 portrait - (210x297 mm) Soft cover
English language.
ISBN 978-83-62878-49-9
Price: €23.59

This is a special edition of the new series of monographs from Kagero Publishing of Poland. This company has seen something of a re-launching recently. The books are mostly in English now – they are easier to follow and somewhat updated from their original states – this however is a new title – and a good subject to choose as well. The Bf 109F saw much of the action of the Second World War – most notably in some of the decisive battles – many of which are covered here in this book, there are plenty of subjects from a variety of theatres to cover.
Physically this book is printed on glossy paper with a thick but flexible soft cover in portrait format A4 size- (210x297 mm) The pictures inside (of which there are 228 are in black and white but these are supplemented by fourty four excellent colour profiles of the “Frederic.” This is topped off with several plans in the book in 1/72 and 1/48th as well as a fold-out A2 sheet of diagrams in 1/32nd scale to suit the Hasegawa and Trumpeter kits. The book is written totally in English language so there isn’t any skipping between texts – the thick, weighty feel of the book is all therefore even better because unlike some books with dual text where the page count is high but there is half the info in the book. I like this approach a lot better.
The book is broken up into chapters firstly describing the variants of the aircraft – then the service record, then the technical details, drawings of it and the equipment it carried and topped off with several profiles and reference pictures – that is it – and for the price it’s all a little too good to be true - but in deeper we got to tell you a little more about the details of each..
The first chapter explains, after an action packed introduction the progression of the Bf 109F series from the prototype to the F-6 series until the “G” model then took over production priorities. You get a lot of insight into the changes made from variant to variant as well as an insight into some of the experimental and test aircraft used in the development.

Of interesting note especially to me was the long list of fix requests sent to the ministry after the first “F-2’s” models were adopted. It surely was very thorough list! Insights like this and the rest of this chapter help you understand much better the aircraft and it’s strengths and weaknesses. There are excellent pictures that go along with this section with some rare types as well.
The next chapter of the book discusses the “Freidrich’s” service from in Western Europe over the coastal areas of France. From autumn 1940 through till the month of May in 1942 this aircraft’s history is described for the reader. Actions of it’s pilots fighting mainly the RAF over the coastal areas are described in a very interesting style which really reminded me of the British experiences I have read of the same time.

Aces like Werner Mölders are featured prominently in this section and one can’t believe that these aces could score so many victories without themselves succumbing to the enemy’s guns. Several types of operations were described, from fighter sweeps to anti-shipping and coastal ops, a very interesting scuffle between fighters and low flying Lancasters was particularly good to read as well.

We go straight from the Western front to the Mediterranean and Malta theatres – straight into the fray with operations by the deserted Freidrichs firstly over the Maltese Island, this is accompanied with some great shots of the aircraft on Italian and Sicilian airfields. JG 53 and JG 27’s “F” aircraft feature heavily in this section of the book.

We hear recollections from actions in that Mediterranean theatre where the superior diving performance bred the tactics of the German pilots against the P-40’s, hurricanes and spitfires of the enemy. The book highlights some of the aces of that conflict like Shulz, Stahlscmidt and most notably the “Star of Afrika” Hans Joachim Marseille. We even get a window into the tactics used by this man, one of the most interesting aces of the Luftwaffe, including a story from his “100th” kill sortie.

Even though we have an overlap of six pages where we see some aircraft from the next chapter that isn’t that bad of a thing is it? The other very minor point I have is this part of the book has less of a strategic overview, so you sometimes have no idea of where the fighters are operating. This however is corrected in the next chapter of the “F” marque’s operations over the Soviet Union.
Next we go into the massive conflict on the eastern front and the part the Bf 109F played in that massive theatre. We get a breakdown of the territory that dominated the battle before we go to the aircraft in their jump off in Poland we follow many units from the summer of 1941 onwards East.

From early victories against a poorly equipped and trained Soviet Air Force flying I-15 and LaGG3 fighters we see the story unwind as it heads east. There are a lot of machines from JG51 captured here with the distinctive hawk on the nose as well as some whitewashed aircraft as the winter took hold on that front. The fighting goes on in this part of the book into mid-1942 and we read about and see more aircraft from JG53 and JG54 in more temperate schemes. To top off this historical account we read into the differences in tactics, aircraft and pilots from both sides on the Eastern front.

A small section is devoted to the foreign owners of the “Freidrich” – the Spanish and Italians, Hungarians, Swiss and Finnish being the main users – but even captured aircraft in RAF and the USAAF are mentioned. Before the finish of this part of the book we also have an interesting passage on camouflage and markings of the “F” version.

Next is a very visual part of the book. In information gleaned from technical manuals of the Bf 109F we see the insides and workings of this aircraft and its design features. Although in German (and in gothic text) it is a really interesting feature for the modeller interested in detail – and if you are a German speaker it is a bonus – and no this section does not mean it is a bi-lingual book!

This section transitions into blueprint style of technical scale drawings of the aircraft in 1/72nd, 48th and 32nd scales –of which the larger scale drawings, are provided on a separate A2 sheet. This is great for larger scale modellers who need room to move. It is really nice for me to see them included with the more popular smaller scales.
Lastly we see the many colours of this aircraft in a series of 44 colour profiles over several pages. There are certain important aircraft highlighted like the aircraft of Geissler, Willius,Bronnle,Schwaiger,, Sinner,Carganico, and of course Marseilles in more detail with top down and wingtip colours and the latter in pictures whilst the other aircraft are shown in one side on profile. There are certainly plenty of very nice looking aircraft here to choose from – several known to Bf 109 fans.
Well that is all - and I for one am gutted this aircraft was replace because that is the end of the book – although at nearly 200 pages this book isn’t just a technical achievement which covers nearly every facet of this aircraft it is also an engaging read. Especially when you get into the pilot’s accounts which are always the best parts of books like this.
A great start to the new Monographs collection from Kagero – I hope their other new books are just as good

Well done.

Adam Norenberg.

Thanks to the peeps at Kagero for this good read!