Saturday, June 19

Read n' Reviewed: Uboot Im Focus #18 from Luftfahrtverlag-Start

Luftfahrtverlag-Start's U-Boot Im Focus' eighteenth edition has been gracing our shelf for a while, and today we got a chance to sit down and finally read it. We always look forward to seeing if the high standards we have for this series is met with new issues, see what we thought about #18 in our review...
Read n' Reviewed: Uboot Im Focus #18
From Luftfahrtverlag-Start
By Axel Urbanke
54 pages
Softcover, A4 Portrait format
56 photos (3 in colour),
3 coloured emblems,1 document in colour, 3 coloured conning tower views, 2 colour maps.
Price: 19,60 €
Product Link on the Luftfahrtverlag-Start website
Available from the luftfahrtverlag-start webpage or from their resellers worldwide in subscription or as single issues
U-Boot Im Focus's eighteenth edition has hit our desks and we are just in the right mood to read it! The latest in the series of books packed with new or previously unseen photographs and stories from over seventy-five years ago from the men and submarines of the German Kriegsmarine of World War Two. How the Author, Mr Axel Urbanke and his team keep on coming up with new material is always a wonder to us. 

Let's look at the makeup of the book and its physical form, the contents, then go page for page to show you just what is inside this latest edition...

The book in its physical form:
Each of these books follows an identical format, one that mirrors the Luftwaffe im Focus series also from Luftfahrtverlag-Start
 - that of a glossy softcover book, portrait A4 format, written in both German and English text, with about fifty (+) pages inside, this one has fifty-four pages with fifty-six photographs in mostly a large format size, added to with one document in colour, two coloured maps to support the stories being told and the artwork by Juanita Franzi of two coloured emblems and three coloured conning tower profiles.
Contents: Uboot Im Focus #18
• Commanders: Kptlt. Herbert Schultze (U-48)
• Reader's Forum & Editor's notes 
 Photos of U-100, U-73, U-204, U-3527 and U-3528
• Unknown emblems: This is what the U-629 emblem actually looked like
• Photos with a story: On a secret mission for General Franco-German submarines in the Spanish Civil War
• Conning towers: U-boats against the invasion - Hopeless surface operations
• The use of U-766 as part of the “Farmer” group from June-August 1944
• Documents: Commemorative document in of the Department II of the Brest Naval shipyard
• Scenery: "Klönschnack" from boat to boat
• Background: "Alberich" - the invisibility cap of the German submarines
• Cap badges: From "Glückauf" to "Bobby the Elephant" (U-141, U-667, U-471) 

Now you know what is promised in this issue I thought I would take you through the book as I read it and illustrate the contents a little...

As is always the case, the book starts off with the nicely written author's comments on the issue and its stories within with a hint of what's coming up, this leads on to the always welcome reader's forum. A place where the dedicated audience for these books writes to inform the author of additions, corrections and questions about the recent subjects of the series. Included here in this issue is a small correction from the author added on a strip of paper to correct a caption, I like that attention and admission of mistakes in Urbake's works. I really like these personal touches in this book, they give back to the reader, and make them feel a part of the process and the community that love this series so much.

 Of interest right off the bat is this shot story on "Papa" Kptlt. Herbert Shultz was an interesting feature in an ongoing series...
As with all of the books in this series we have several short galleries over one or two pages each of several different "boats" and points of interest to the U-boat fans. The Type VIIC boats over two pages, with U-100 on a training cruise in some shots, U-73 returning to La Spezia under escort and with her crew at the dock, U-204 at Keil, with a short story of her and her crews' fate. Also in this short section are two type XXI boats, the U-3527 and U-3528 seen at Danzig before evacuation. Short texts provided in both German and English flesh out these photos and give the reader interesting information as to their peculiarities and often their fates...
The next article is a simple one-page affair in the "unknown emblems" series, this one features a coloured drawing and a photo supported with text describing the Type VIIC boat, the U-629's emblem and what it actually looked like in real life compared to previous accounts. Juanita Franzi's illustration is an interesting comparison o the matching black and white photo in this story.

The next large section is in the "Photos with a story" heading, and this story is dedicated to a pre-world War Two timeline. "On a secret mission for General Franco-German submarines in the Spanish Civil War" features this unfamiliar but just as interesting period of action from November 1936 where three U-boats were used to blockade and support (unofficially) General Franco's Nationalist forces against the communist shipping routes and craft as part of Operation "Ursula". This twenty-page article really is impressive, and features plenty of photos (some in colour) and text describing the boat's operations during that period which has not covered in this series before.
Not only photos and text, but also some profile drawings by the talented Juanita Franzi bring colour and life to the boats and a better connection to what these boats would really look like in their "neutrality markings". Although operating under a cloud of secrecy,  fourteen subs joined the initial three boats, and we see plenty of photos of these ships in port and at sea, along with surface ships in their large black, white and red neutrality stripes. Of interest especially to this reader was the in-depth text explaining the operation and the situation at the time in Spain, and who was taking part on what side. Images of how the markings changed on certain subs, the boats at sea with civilians aboard, in port,on patrol, meeting with other ships, and lastly the soldiers on their parade in Germany after the operation are a good visual insight for the reader. Several supportive illustrations like maps, graphics of the neutrality markings and a table of which commander who served off Spain who would move on to get their own boats in WWII are a great addition to this wonderful story. 
Next up we look at "Conning towers: U-boats against the invasion - Hopeless surface operations". a ten-page story where we trace U-766's operations as part of the U-boat flotilla “Landwirt”(Farmer) sent to fight the invasion fleet of the allies after D-Day in the English Channel from June to August 1944. This story I liked a lot because the actual actions of the boat on partol are explained in detail, with fights against naval and targets aerial especially who dogged the U-boats, and the latter especially making surfacing almost impossible. We also see the coloured illustrations by Juanita Franzi again to better illustrate the shades of U-766 (along with red St. Pauli lights) that bring her a little more to life. The boat's commander, Kapitan Wilke is shown as well as his actions in command discussed throughout this story, the fate of the boat and the crew are told along with a summary of the use of VIIC boats without snorkels at that stage of the war.

We also see a one-page colour "commemorative document in of the department III of the Brest Naval shipyard", which is an interesting piece before we see a short story "Scenery: "Klönschnack"  from boat to boat" where photos and text describe the meeting of two U-Boats int he Baltic where their captains are seen in two photos talking while their boats held station near each other. A rare sight!
Next, we have something that has been the subject of some discussion (and scuttlebutt) of recent years "Background: "Alberich" - The invisibility cap of the German submarines" talks about the efforts of the German command and I.G. Farben's development of rubber materials to "cloak" the U-boats from ASDIC and sound detection.  Named the "Alberich Process", the scientific texts, theories and workarounds of workarounds of problems discovered then rectified before other solutions to more problems make this an interesting piece of history on a solution that could have made a massive difference to submarine operations that did not come to any real (measurable) success during World War Two.

The story tells of cruises of "Alberich" coated boats and shows photos of the exhumed hull parts of boats cited in the material...
The last section we have is called "Cap badges: from "Glückauf" to "Bobby the elephant" (U-141, U-667, U-471)" and it features several cap badges in colour and black and white and the stories behind them briefly.

Volume eighteen of U-Boot Im Focus will please most of the rusted-on fans, with large articles that get in-depth in their subjects (although I do miss the "fates" section this issue) the stories are interesting, the insight of the Spanish Civil War operations, the action against the D-day fleets and the "Alberich" boats were something I had no real knowledge of before reading this issue.

As we have come to expect, this is another great title from Luftfahrtverlag-Start that most readers will find a worthwhile addition to the U-Boot Im Focus series and a very interesting read. 

I really liked this issue very much.

Adam Norenberg

Thanks to the team for sending this - You can get this from the luftfahrtverlag-start webpage or their re-sellers worldwide

Oww - and Issue #19 of U-Boot Im Focus is already about to surface!