Saturday, January 31

Review: Eagle Editions "Wings of the Black Cross Special Number One" (Messerschmitt Bf 110)

Well having ten issues of “Wings of the Black Cross” under their belts you would have thought Eagle Editions has spent all it’s ammo - but no, the phoenix arises with a special edition centred exclusively on the development of the Messerschmitt Bf-110. Let’s have a look and see if this one has the quality and interest of the other titles in the range.

Wings of the Black Cross Special Number One 
(Messerschmitt Bf 110)
By Mark Proulx
Illustrated by Fernando Estanislau
52 pages
Softcover Portrait format 8.5" X 11
ISBN 978-0-914144-59-5
Available through Eagle Editions & Their Distributors Worldwide.

The very popular book for inspiration and dead on reckoning for colour schemes and several discoveries in WWII aircraft- “Wings of the Black Cross” has been around for ten issues now. Eagle Editions still carry all ten books on their website but owing to the cost of postage I have previously relied on getting mine through local sources. Because it is so popular and people tend to hold onto these books they are sometimes hard to get on the second hand market.

For this book to do more than an endless stream of volumes the author, Mr Mark Proulx has done something different. He has concentrated this edition on one aircraft, and a fairly popular one at that – the Messerschmitt Bf-110 Zerstörer in all of it’s incarnations you can fit into this book.
Physically this book is the usual format for this series. A softcover portrait book with glossy cover and stock inside. The pages are an 8.5" X 11 size with 52 pages full of some colour but mostly black and white photos of the Bf-110 in period shots. These pictures have text to explain the picture and sometimes the series of pictures in the collection. Mostly there are two pictures and text to a page. You should know that of the 77 photos in the book, most of them are formerly unpublished and they were from the private collection of the author plus a few from selected contributors. Although some of these do tie in with other aircraft already in the regular series these are all new to me.

New in this special edition is the inclusion of the well-known and pretty talented aviation illustrator Mr Fernando Estanislau. Fernando has created several profiles and coloured nose sections of the Bf-110’s featured in this book. The helpful text directs you to the page that the picture of the aircraft is on. You can tell that Fernando is interested in his subject because these numerous profiles and nose art feature a lot of detail easily skipped over by the unknowing artist.
Announcing the first release in our exciting new series of books detailing specific aircraft flown by the Luftwaffe during WWII. Following the same format as the familiar and popular Wings of the Black Cross, each Special will provide supporting text and background, expanded photo coverage plus additional colour profiles.

This first release in the new specials series will focus on the Messerschmitt Bf-110 as it saw service throughout the war in many different roles and models, other aircraft only appear in the background and I like the singular approach to the subject.
Although the book is mostly visual with some reading Mark offers us several pages at the start of the book which give you a background in the history of the aircraft and its various incarnations and operational roles.  We also talk about the camouflage and markings throughout the type’s service life and especially the code tables which help us identify Geshwader/Stab, and Staffel Colours is very helpful and an almost ready reckoner for.

When it comes to the aircraft in the spotlight, we look at the very dark green Bf-110C’s with the Jumo engines at the start of the war and then progress to the DB601 engined C models of various types through the 1940 battles and over Great Britain and France, and then onto the Balkans and Sicily through 1941. 
We next look at the D model Bf-110 with unusual fittings like the long range fuel tank Dackelbauch  configuration to snow distemper covered aircraft right through to the hot desert with long ranged aircraft and recon birds and through the Balkans and Bulgaria. We start to see our first all-black nightfighters as well.

Next we see from the start the subtle differenced of the “E” model and there are some great shots of the famous “Wespe” nosed Zerstörers of SKG 210 as well as some nose art for it. Several other E models with often colourful nose out round off this model before we go into the “F” series Bf-110 and then everyone’s favourite it seems the “G” model.
Several pages of mostly late war “G” model Bf-110’s are shown over the next few pages along with profiles. For the most part these are grey nightfighters, often with radar antennae and often wrecked or in disrepair at the end of the war. It surprises me that there are still unpublished photos of these aircraft left but it adds to my appreciation of this author and his team who have not yet failed to impress me when it comes to doing their homework.

That’s all for this issue – I feel like the “specials” have started off strongly, with several other higher profile aircraft of the Luftwaffe to examine, and with research like this coming up with unpublished photos and the text to back them up… Well it’s a great little book in my eyes.

Adam Norenberg

Available through Eagle Editions & Their Distributors Worldwide. If you do live outside the US I would advise you to get it from your nearest dealer to negate postage..