Thursday, December 26

Read n' reviewed: Luftwaffe Im Focus Edition No. 29 from Luftfahrtverlag Start

The prospect of a new book from the team at Luftfahrtverlag-Start is always enticing to us, as their work on bringing back the stories of the men and machines of the Luftwaffe in WWII is always engaging and revealing. So much so, we look to see if they can keep up the high standard in every issue. See if they meet the bar or not with this 1944/45 focused special edition issue #29 of Luftwaffe im Focus...

Read n' Reviewed: Luftwaffe in Focus Edition No 29
From Luftfahrtverlag-Start
54 pages + inside & outside cover pages
A4 Softcover - Dimensions: 29,5 x 21 cm
55 photos (incl. 20 in colour, 3 profiles, 1 coloured emblem, 1 coloured document, 6 coloured maps)
Price: 19,60 €
Product Link on the Luftfahrtverlag-Start website
The latest in the series of Luftwaffe im Focus books features the men and aircraft that fought for Germany in the last year of the European theatre of WWII - 1944/45. Although this issue does have a theme - the look of the book is similar to readers of the other books of the series - a red band down the front of the cover that this time has a colour image (along with several colour pictures inside) glossy, softcover A4 portrait format with fifty-five pages of thick stock inside. The pages are full of both English and German dual text that explains not only the (previously unseen) pictures inside but also the stories of these fliers and their machines and their missions during that last year of WWII.
This issue has a similar collection of stories that many of you will be used to, larger articles sit alongside single page documents, maps and photos. The real drive of the narrative and therefore the star of these books are the stories behind the pictures...
 Luftfahrtverlag Start #29 contents:
• Reader's forum 
• Hunter: When the Fw 190 D-9 came to the front
• Hunter: Rare photos of the 7th / JG 3 from April 1945
• 10.(Pz)/SG 9 - Anti-Tank Operations until the Final Hour
• Documents: A Previously Unknown Close Support FLier w/ 600 Combat Sorties
• Nightfighters: A crash on the way to the frontline unit
• Portrait: Lieutenant Karl-Heinz Wilke, 2./NAGr. 4
• Reconnaissance Aircraft: Bf 109G-12 in frontline service w/ NAGr.3
• Colour photos: New - old colour photos of mistletoe machines
• Fates: Shot down in Silesia - The fate of an aircraft of the 10th / JG 77 in March 1945
• Background: The use of the squadron staff & III. Group JG 301 w/ Ta 152 - Poetry & Truth
• Scenery: The end of the Lockheed F-5E of the "Circus Rosarius"
• Unusual: The "US Peanut Poppers" (paper drop tanks of the USAAF)

In every issue, the Author, Mr Axel Urbanke, gives his initial thoughts about not only this book but the other upcoming books from Luftfahrtverlag Start. He also allows the readers to send in submissions in the reader's forum. a great part of each book, it enables readers to offer solutions to posers often asked throughout these issues, often on unresolved questions or subjects that need a little more light shed on them. Corrections are encouraged in the spirit of knowledge shared and in fostering new insight for the rest of us. I like very much these additions from the readers and the fact that they are included in the series by the publishers - it adds credibility to the whole exercise to me, and I enjoy the extra insight the whole community is allowed to add to each of these books.

The smaller sections of a page or two are the form of the first fifteen pages. The sections are broken into small articles, the first, a two-page spread "Fighters: When the Fw 190 D-9 came to the front" captures the late war long-nosed Focke Wulf 190D's of the "Green Hearts" that would be familiar to most readers of this series and Urbanke's previous book on the subject. Next, we have "Fighters": Rare photos of the 7th / JG 3 from April 1945" - three pages of text, photos and a full-colour profile by Juanita Franzi - who has been drawing these profiles of the series for a while now. A very talented illustrator, these colour profiles ( there are three of them in the book) bring colour and life to the aircraft that are often only seen in black and white. This Bf 109 - "Yello 13" is the mount of an unknown pilot, and seen over a few photos with the pilot and groundcrew - including a very glamourous auxiliary.
"10.(Pz)/SG 9 - Anti-Tank Operations until the Final Hour" follows the men of the Hs 129 unit in its attacks on Soviet armour until the last days of the war. Only two pages, the article still has some of the pilots of the unit int he photos and identified, notably the winner of the Iron Cross - Feldwebel Otto Ritz and a little of his fate in February 1945. A one-page article in the usual "Documents" section, shows a coloured previously unknown close support flier with over six hundred Combat Sorties who flew from the Spanish Civil War until WWII's end and describes some of his journey. "Nightfighters: A crash on the way to the frontline unit" is an article of two pages with pictures and text describing a radar-equipped Ju 88G-1's demise in an engine failure induced crash. The camouflage, armament and radar equipment are pointed out in the text which describes a little of the accident. In "Portrait: Lieutenant Karl-Heinz Wilke, 2./NAGr. 4" - we see in two pages the pilot and his mount and a history of his distinguished flying career during WWII in which he was awarded the Knight's cross. The author describes what he was awarded the medal for, with a hint that his publishing house will be releasing a book on fliers that have won the Knight's Cross in 2020!

In "Reconnaissance Aircraft: Bf 109G-12 in frontline service w/ NAGr.3" we see and read about the Bf 109 twin-seaters used for tactical reconnaissance over the battlefield near the end of WWII. A pilot and his comrades celebrating 500 successful missions are seen, along with text describing the use of these formerly training aircraft. A coloured map of the battlefields these men flew over and a list of the benefits of using this aircraft type is explained in the text. We also have the second of the coloured profiles from Juanita Franzi which can be compared and contrasted with the black and white pictures of the actual aircraft in the photos.

Something you THINK you might have seen before (but you haven't really) is next - "Colour photos: New - old colour photos of Mistel aircraft" runs for five pages, and the author has all -new photos from a scene that some of you would be familiar with - the bomb-laden almost mosquito-nosed "Mistel" and their massive "Elephant Trunk" warheads being fitted to the Ju-88 Fw 190 combination aircraft. These are new scans using the most up to date technology to bring out the best quality colour images of this series of pictures that were long thought to be passed their used by date until now. Photos of the pilot in his Fw 190, of taking off and then the aftermath of a crash in the machine are shown in this revealing section of shots.

One of my favourite parts of these books are the "Fates" series, and in this one "Shot down in Silesia - The fate of an aircraft of the 10th / JG 77 in March 1945" we read over four pages the story of Lt Günther Beine and his Bf 109K-4 "Red 3". Although this is a shorter "fates" than I am used to and there is not as much to set the scene in story, there is, however, a photo of the man, his aircraft, his transfer boo, the map of his last mission and another coloured profile by the book's artist of "Red 3" to make up for that.

In the next section called "Background: The use of the squadron staff & III. Group JG 301 w/ Ta 152 - Fact & Fiction" we read about the use of this late war machine by  III. Group JG 301 during 1945. This article is spread over sixteen pages and is the largest in the book with a LOT of information that tries to sort out former inaccuracies of the unit's service history with these aircraft from the 27th of January until the end of April 1945 are told in a mission debriefing style taken from the logs of the unit. This gives a good background to the story, which is added to with the author's supporting text of what was happening to the unit at the time.

Both Ta 152's and the unit's other Fw 190 - long and short-nosed variants - are seen in photos, along with pilots from the unit and two coloured maps of the operations the unit undertook in the 4th-9th of April and the 7th until the 30th of April. A lot of evidence is brought forward from the pilot's logbooks, unit documents and post-war recollections to form the author's new conclusion. A lot of careful research and time has gone into this investigation, and it bears reading for any historian or amateur interested in this rare machine and the flying history of this unit towards the end of the war.
We look at a very odd bird in Luftwaffe colours next with "Scenery - The end of the Lockheed F-5E of the "Circus Rosarius"" in which we see over three pages the story of a recon Lightning and the journey of its pilot - from India to Italy and then how and why the F5 fell into German hands. We read of the story of this unique pilot and hear of the "Circus Rosarius" and its surrender to the allies in late 1945 in a series of crashed landings on handing the aircraft back to their original owners - fascinating reading.

Lastly in "Unusual: The "US Peanut Poppers"" we read about the story of the paper drop tanks of the USAAF. we see the author explain the use of the pressed paper and metal drop-tanks by the USAAF. Three pages swing close up (familiar) pictures of the tanks, stacked, on aircraft and captured by the Germans, (which I think was the whole point of this article). We learn how these extended ranges of the aircraft and peculiarities of the use of the tanks in operations.

So that is "all he wrote" in Luftwaffe Im Focus Edition No. 29 from Luftfahrtverlag Start.

This article was indeed a mixed bag in a few ways. The revisiting of some of the already published pictures had me quizzed until I saw the reason for their publication. The Mistel pictures especially were revealing to this reader as I had not seen such clear pictures of these aircraft before, and although my favourite section "fates" was a little shorter than I hoped, the longer story of the use of the Ta 152 was really well put together and made for insightful reading.

As always the storytelling is excellent, Juanita's illustrations are top-notch, and the photos of the man and machines and text that described both of their stories makes this series still a strong one into its thirties...

Adam Norenberg

This book is now available through the mail order page for around € 19.60 Euro (minus P&P depending on where you live) from the Luftfahrtverlag-Start web page Thanks to them for sending us this issue to read and review for you...