Monday, August 12

In Review: Kagero Publishing's Air Battles 19 – Luftwaffe vs. USAAF 8th Air Force Vol.1

It is the battle that most captivates WWII modellers – the clash of the Luftwaffe versus the might of the USAAF eighth air force over the skies of Europe – so what better subject for a book? Kagero has taken up the challenge and now we have their latest title on the subject as our review today…

Kagero - Air Battles #19
Luftwaffe vs. USAAF 8th Air Force Vol.1
Marek J Murawski
Format: Softcover portrait
A4 (205 x 275 mm,)
80 pages
109 archive photos,
8 colour profiles.
Available in pre-order in Kagero’s webshop:

The “Air Battles” series from Kagero are a great series in which they try and cover both sides of the story in certain air battles and over conflicts – usually WWII – and this one they have chosen is a “doozy”

One of the most well covered but the one people are seemingly most keenly interested in – the USAAF’s struggle to defeat the German Luftwaffe in WWII over northern Europe depicts the classic massed bomber formation V’s the massed fighter formation. This battle I reckon is the one most responsible for a lot of us making models as a kid – it certainly evokes a lot of imagery and what better a title for tier Air Battles book – this being the first part of what I would think to be a two part series.

This – the latest in Kagero’s Air Battles series is devoted to the Luftwaffe’s fight to down the bomber forces of the USAAF and the story of desperate survival of the bomber crews over the Western Europe. Starting in 1942 with the story of the USAAF and their arrival and service mostly with the B-17 Flying Fortress bombers over France on 17th August 1942 until the end of April 1943.
The book itself is a softcover title in A4 book in English packed with one hundred and nine pictures of the air battle in the first half of the war ever Western Europe. The pictures I have mostly seen before but that does not mean that they aren’t good and the layout well done. There are as many pictures crammed into this book as is possible and although they do not directly match the text of the page they are on they do set the scene very well.

It occurred to me actually that most pages here feature the pictures of the German fighters - as they were unknown or they caught my eye – but dont worry - there are plenty of B-17’s in his book believe you me!

The text starts off fairly matter of factual – giving the background in in a straight “just the facts maam” type of way – but then opens up into a very interesting account of tactics and personal accounts from pilots on both sides – mostly German but also some allied. Some of these stories are really insightful to read and they open your mind to what it must have been like to face the enemy – on both sides.

This book transitions the first period of the air battle - from the first chapter "The Americans enter the European Theatre of Operations" which is mostly "getting to know you " stuff - then the Americans learn some hard lessons in the second chapter "Harsh autumn of 1942" we read on as the allies push their attacks further into occupied Europe and Germany in" American bombers over the Reich – winter 1943" to the last chapter "Strengthening the Reich’s defence – April 1943" There is also an “endnotes” & a Bibliography section at the end for either further reading suggestions and to know exactly where the information to make the book came from.
There are eight aircraft profiles of both American bombers ( including the “Memphis Belle” and a captured version) and their attackers – the Luftwaffe fighters – in this book there are early Fw 190’s – they are….

B-17-50-BO (n/s 42-5483) “Red Ass” of 360 BS/ 303 BG , fuselage code PU*F, 1943
B-17F-10 (n/s 42-24485) “Memphis Belle” of 324 BS/ 91 BG , DF*A, of Cpt. Robert Morgan, April 1943
B-17E (n/s 41-9019) “Little Skunkface” of 414BS/ 97BG, autumn 1942
B-17F-27-BO (n/s 41-24585) formerly PU*B of 303 BG, captured by Germans on 12th Dec. 1942, German fuselage code DL XC
Focke-Wulf Fw 190 A-2, W. Nr. 0120 333, “White 8”, Lt. Jakob Augustin of 7./JG 2, Theville, June 1942
Focke-Wulf Fw 190 A-2, W. Nr. 0125 304, Hptm. Johannes Seifert, Kommandeur of I./JG 26, St. Omet-Arques, May 1942
Focke-Wulf Fw 190 A-2, W. Nr. 0125 228, “Chevron L”, Ofw. Erwin Leibold of Stab I./JG 26, St. Omer-Arques, July 1942
Focke-Wulf Fw 190 A-4/U7, W. Nr. 0147 092, Hptm. Wilhelm-Ferdinand Galland, Kommandeur of II./JG 26, France, Spring 1943
All in all this is a solid start to one of the most interesting air battles from the history of warfare – The pilots accounts really make this book worth a read - and am really looking forward to Volume II - congratulations to the author Mr. Murawski on a good read!

Adam Norenberg

Thanks to Kagero for this book - it is available from the Kagero site but they are now available  as well from their distributors Casemate Publishing and MMD Squadron as well as other retailers in various countries.