Wednesday, May 1

Read n' reviewed: Luftwaffe Gallery Series V: JG 5 Special Album: Fighters Of The Midnight Sun

Erik Mombeeck's Luftwaffe Gallery (LuGA) books are always something to behold for modellers and Luftwaffe historians alike. Never before published pictures and artwork with stories telling us all about the men and machines portrayed, these books come by infrequently so we want to know all about them. See what we thought after we read the latest title in our review of LuGa 5...
Read n' reviewed: Luftwaffe Gallery Series V:
JG 5 Special Album: Fighters Of The Midnight Sun
By Erik Mombeeck & Maciej Góralczyk
Softcover, in A4 Landscape Format
96 pages
240 photos (many of them published for the first time)
32 colour profiles by Janusz Światłoń
The latest book in the Luftwaffe Gallery (LuGa) series from the writing team of Erik Mombeeck and Maciej Góralczyk is with the public. This recently released title, number five in this series, sees Mr Maciej Góralczyk has been added as a co-author for the second time, last year he co-authored the special on JG 54 we also reviewed here on TMN.
Although most of you will know Erik Mombeeck through his previous Luftwaffe Gallery books we have reviewed here on TMN, you may know Maciej a little better from his previous work with Kagero amongst many others in the modelling press. Maciej is a bit of a force in the historical and modelling world, so I was eagerly awaiting to see the fruits of this team combined.

LuGa 5 - The plot: 
This book is a "Special Edition" as titled - but seeing this is the fifth book in the series over several years they have all been of a rather special nature up until now. This book is focussed solely on the men, machines and the exploits of Jagdgeschwader 5 (JG 5—5th Fighter Wing), later referred to as "Eismeergeschwader" or Arctic Sea Fighter Wing. This unit reined the skies over the German  Northern front during World War Two - the skies of far North of Northern Europe, Norway, Scandinavia and northern parts of Finland and Russia coming nearest the Arctic regions in their actions. The "Poor Man's Front" has it's own challenges and knowing the history of the battles in this area I was looking forward to hearing about the war there from an aerial perspective.

The book in physical form:

Coming in at ninety-six pages in a glossy softcover book, the Landscape A4 sized format gives scope for some of the wider photographs and profiles to sit natively within the pages without carrying over the spine to the other page. There are two hundred and forty mostly black and white photographs in the book. The writing in English flows and is easy to read, while in addition to that there are thirty-two full-colour artwork profiles accompanied by an RLM colour chart by Janusz Światłoń, whose polished work in the Kagero "Topcolor" series you may already have had some experience with, you will see some of his profiles throughout this review.

The book is broken up into not chapters as such - but a continual string of narrative through block text where the author lays out the movements, adaptations and major personnel changes in the unit while other blocks of text in letter extracts where several different soldiers tell the story. These writers of letters are credited at the end of each section of the text, and this style of story narrative follows right through the book and it is accompanied by large and small pictures of the flyers, ground crew and their aircraft in many different states throughout the campaigns.

A little like the previous books in this series - the story is told by this dual pictures/ block text format and from a personal perspective of the men that were there rather than a dry, historical day and dates tale we see in books that are not as engaging.

In the first fifteen pages we are treated to two sections of block text in letters from three soldiers - Ofw Hugo Dahmer, who tells of the opening days of the attack on Russia, another letter from Oblt Max Franzisket, who tells of a bitter-sweet story of crash landing and the walk to what he hoped would be salvation.

The third letter was from Uffz Dieter Weinitschke, who gives his account of an attack against a Soviet encampment of early invisible enemy hidden in igloos with reindeer surrounding them which makes for an interesting story in itself. Already this book was winning me over with these personal accounts. 

We start to see the first of the thirty-two coloured illustration profiles by Janusz Światłoń from early on in the book, and they cover a variety of the Eismeer's aircraft. The early through late '109's, Fw-190's and Bf-110's. Each of these accompanies a picture in the book, and I can say that these bring to me, a modeller, the life of these people and a modern sense of perspective to the mostly black and white pictures within the book.

Some interesting pictures of the "Emils" of  4/JG5 aircraft over a few pages and including a coloured profile and close-up of the artwork show the emblem of the Russian bear with its head cut off in a symbolic partnership with the Fins. Several other Bf-109E's from various pilots feature through these pages, notably "Black 3" of  Oblt Hermann Segatz of 8/JG5 in 1942. The large red and white Austrian (Tyrolean) eagle featured on the port side. Several pictures of this kite exist - one in colour with its pilot. The famous Dachshund biting the Russian "Rata" I-16 from 5/JG5 and its pilot recounting an adventure with a bunch of other pilots in front of his Zerstorer are also shown here.
We see the first of the Fw 190's on page thirty-seven - with five pages of pictures of a few different "Wurgers" together with two more of Janusz Światłoń's profiles. A short story of a shake-down test between the new Fw-190 and the Bf-109 is told in block text by  Ernst Löffler which will be a point of interest to readers.  We also see our first "Friedrich" pictures of the Bf-109F. "Yellow 10" of 65-kill ace Uffz Hans Dobrich with its four-leaf clover and interesting camouflage pointed out by the authors and in a profile. We also see a double page spread of several Zerstorers with that Daschund and Rata again.
First, that emblem of the bear of 5./JG5 is shown again on a 200 mission Bf-109f-4, then the machine of Kmdr Horst Carganico and his mickey moused adorned machine before we see a few pictures in flight and on the ground including another coloured profile of the Bf-109 E-7 of Hptm. Günther Scholz. A letter excerpt from  Uffz Rudolf Fenten from 6./JG5 of a decision of life or death whether to bail out of his stricken machine and the aftermath of that decision - stories like these really bring you into the men and the machines they flew throughout the book. We see interesting some flyers with "victory sticks" before a double page spread of pictures and profile again, the subject this time over these two pages is Uffz Heinrich Bartles and his Bf-109F-4.
As Autumn turns to winter over these next ten or so pages we see several snowed in environments and whitewashed and camouflaged aircraft in places like Alakurtti in Murmansk, Petsamo and Kemijärvi in the far north of Finland, we see 109E & F's, Bf-110's and Fw-190's of the "Eismeergeschwader". The story of the forced landing, heart attack, being thrown from the wreckage, lost in no-mans-land, rescue, treatment by doctors with no electricity, being burned and straffed in hospital - by Ofw Wilhelm Pfeiffer is just amazing to behold - I could have a whole book full of stories like this and I couldn't be happier or more interested to read these letters as they reveal so much of these men's every day lives.

A new ground attack squadron or Jabostaffel was formed to assist the army of the north, it's emblem of the bomb through a longbow is seen on several aircraft in these pages, being armed and serviced - taxiing out and in profile, along with another account from a novice pilot at the time Fw Albert Wittman who tells of an early mission. A picture of a shot up Jabo next to this story illustrates the dangers faced by these low-level flyers.
Some beautifully camouflaged Bf-109's including a profile with both the three-leafed clover and Mickey Mouse who is dragging some boots that hint to a survival story make for interesting subjects for modellers. Lt Gunther Schwanecke's Bf-109G-2 is seen from a variety of angles in photos and profile, as are two other machines of the same type - "Black 8" & "Black 9" from III Grouppe with their distinctive squiggly-line camo over normal splinter schemes. A letter from  Lt. Ernst Scheufele from 5/JG 5 tells of another experienced pilot in his group  - a veteran of over 140 kills, and how the man became such a good pilot as well as an account to attest to this skill in his letter. We continue to see more profiles and mini accounts throughout these pages which piece together bit by bit the scattered nature of such a large organization and the varied theatres these pilots and machines ended up in.
As an opposite to the success of a gifted pilot and his story of survival, we hear an account of the loss of a very talented 114 victory pilot and how he was "caught" in a fatal circumstance. the reaction to the man's death and the funeral are told by  Lt Walter Schuck 10./JG5 in an enlightening look into the men's feelings in the latter period of the war.  Another block text story tells of the escape from a surrounded Petsamo airfield from a pilot in a Fieseler Fi 156 Storch. Pictures of the aircraft at the field at the time illustrate the time and story. Two more very short stories in these pages further illustrate the difficulties of fighting the enemy and the soldier's generals during the time. amongst several pictures of aircraft here we get two pages and a coloured profile of Uffz Heinz Birk's Fw-190 A-8 "Blue 5" with the words "Ma" on the port side.
Now 1945, the book's last twelve pages of the book round off with more excellent pictures and profiles of the Fw-190's and Bf-109's of the Eismeer. several adorned with the names of the soldier's lady loves, catching my eye was the white squiggly pattern over "White 20",  "Blue 9" flown by Oblt Karl-Heinz Koch, a G-14, "Blue 11" of 16.JG/5 and lastly the Bf-109 G-6 of Hptm Fritz Dorr. All of these are surrounded by pictures of the men who flew them and colour profiles. The book ends on a nice note - that of a pilot, formerly thought dead or MIA, Deiter Weinitschenke returning home after serving time in captivity in 1949.

...And that wraps up these ninety-six pages of Luftwaffe Gallery No#5.

Succinctly, this book is full of a series of montages of the men and machines who flew in the Arctic "midnight Sun" campaign for five years from 1940 until 1945. The book is not a day by day historical record as much as it is a bunch of images, pictures and colour profiles to support them. Modellers will love the inspiration and content, and they will also love the short stories in block text which give real flesh to the bones of any historical recounting of a unit. For me, it is all about the men and machines and the hurdles they faced no matter of the nation or time.

The Authors, Mr Mombeeck & Góralczyk have found that very spark of interest in all of these accounts in this excellent book.

Adam Norenberg

Thanks to the team at for sending me this book to read and review for you. If you would like to purchase this title by sending him an email. Contact Erik via his email address on the website