Sunday, August 29

Read n' reviewed: Luftwaffe Im Focus turns #30 from Luftfahrtverlag-Start

"Luftwaffe Im Focus" from Luftfahrtverlag-Start has already released its 30th issue, and we have a copy of their latest edition in our hands. We got a chance to read it on the weekend, and we thought we would show you what is inside and more on the contents in our review...

Read n' reviewed: Luftwaffe Im Focus 30
From Luftfahrtverlag-Start
50 pages + inside & outside cover pages
A4 Soft Cover - Dimensions: 29,5 x 21 cm
60 photos (incl. 7 in colour, 1 colour profile, 1 coloured emblem, 3 coloured documents, 5 coloured cards and a reader's forum)
Price: 19,60 €
ISBN: 9-783941-437470
Luftwaffe Im Focus is the aerial arm of the two-pronged attack from publishers Luftfahrtverlag-Start in Germany. They release this and their "U-boot Im Focus" series of books for their undersea lovers roughly every two months. These books promise previously unseen or unpublished large-format photos with text, drawings, profiles and illustrations to flesh out the stories of the men and the machines they served in. They are generally greatly loved and appreciated by their audience, so the bar is high. We are always keen to not only see, but to read the engrossing stories that come in these books.

We will look at the book's physical form, the contents then go page to page, article to article through the book to show you more of what is inside in the review...

The book in its physical form:
The format is of an A4 (297 x 210mm) portrait format, with a glossy red, yellow and black and white photo cover and rear page that fits the rest of the series. Fifty pages inside in mostly black and white photos, but in this issue, there are seven photos in real, wartime colour included inside. Speaking of colour, there is also a colour profile, a coloured emblem, three coloured documents and five coloured cards inside. The accompanying text is in both German and English languages which broadens this book's appeal greatly. 
The book is broken up into several small chapters, some stories are told in only a single page, where others are of several pages in length. Regular chapters such as the "Colour photos", "Documents", "Photos with a story", "Unusual" are all included in this issue which tells us a little of what to expect, but regular readers will know the devil is in the details in these books. I must note that because the contents of these books have not been published before, I have not included as many pictures of the book as I would like, so as to keep the material off the internet.

Let's look at the pages and chapters of the book now.
Contents of Luftwaffe Im Focus turns #30
- Tails: Einsatzbilanz einer Do 217 des KG 40
- Fighters: Look What Turned Up – Colour Photos of the Aircraft of Hptm. Bär, Kommandeur of I./JG 77
- Heavy Fighters: Bf-110 in Libya & Me 410 Production at Messerschmitt in Augsburg
- Reconnaissance Aircraft: Hit by Flak in the Area North of Rzhev!
Fortunate return by a 4.(F)/14 crew in January 1942
- Color Photos: The Red Devil That Suddenly Disappeared (1./KG 76)
- Photos with a story: Kurierstaffel (trop) Afrika – The Unit with Many Names
- Documents: The Arab Identity Card of the German Africa Korps
- Unusual: A Rare Boundary Stone as a Victory Marker (I./ZG 52)
- Scenery: Three Days Confined to Barracks for a “Flying Obscenity”
- Awards: The Honour Goblet for Distinguished Achievement in the Air War
- Photos with a story: Hit by Flak – Return Flight with No Rudder!
Happy Ending to a Dramatic Mission by Nahaufklärungsgruppe 4
- Seaplanes: Seenot Staffel 8 in the Black Sea

Page by page:
This issue starts off in the usual way, with an editor's insight and reader's forum. I actually really like to read not only what is going on with this series (with the next book right and a mega JG53 special edition book around the corner), something else to look forward to indeed! The reader's forum in this episode is very short, but is a place where letters or corrections, additions and sometimes extra photos are added to the series by previously unknown material or reader's points of view. Embracing robust community engagement and opinion is one of the things that only improves on the publisher's aim to get the best information and stories to the readers.

After a one page story on the photo of the tail of a Do 217 and its mission record, we look at several aircraft types now in single or series of photos.  The first two are of a forgotten brace of scanned colour slides of what turns out to be Hauptman Bar's 1/JG77 Bf 109 in Sicily and a few points of interest of the lion emblemed aircraft of interest.  In this section, we also look at heavy fighters over three pages, with twin-engined Bf110 & Me 410 Zerstörers. The former with large escort tanks from ZG 26 in front of its camouflaged airfield tower at Derna in Lybia, while the 410s are seen in a fresh, newly manufactured state at the production facility at Augsburg.  
The next small section of five pages covers Aufklarer or reconnaissance aircraft, this time featuring the Ju 88 from 4(F)14 that had been hit by flak on the return from a mission out of Smolensk over the front lines to identifying troop movements. Several photos of the stricken aircraft and her crew posing in the cold are accompanied by a mission summary and a map detailing the route of the ill-fated aircraft.

A single page colour photo of a Do 17Z and its pilot with the rarely captured image of a "Red Devil" emblem which was "ejecting a bomb from his rear end" on the fuselage. Following closely behind this is the first larger story of this issue. thirteen pages of text, photos and even a coloured profile in "Photos with a story: Kurierstaffel (trop) Afrika – The Unit with Many Names". The story tells of the unit's history in North Africa in a historical walkthrough in text, maps and photographs. There are some interesting snippets in here, of mishaps, of how aircraft camouflage and Trop modifications affected the unit. Also, there are several of the aircraft of the unit are photographed, from Fieseler Fi 156 Storch, the Ju-52, the captured French Caudron C.445 to the ubiquitous He-111 in a number of photographs, often with Erwin Rommel in the frame which makes sense when you take in the transport/courier role. On the last page of the story, there is a tally of losses in the unit showing aircraft, time and aircrew, it is a shame that this is only provided in the German language, however.
Of note is also an excellent profile of a He-111H-6 by the talented Juanita Franzi. these add life to the black and white photos of the kite.

Staying in the Afrika theme for a moment, in the regular "Documents" section, there are three colour photos and text showing and telling the story of the Arab identity card of the Afrika Korps in dual Arab and German that was given to soldiers to show they were friendly to the native population. Donated by a reader, this is a fascinating artifact and in great condition!
In "Unusual", over two pages, we look at a rare boundary stone as a victory marker (I./ZG 52) which denoted the victories of the unit while in the area on an old Roman marker. The next two pages are in the "Scenery" series, and show a rather oddly grounded (hanging nose down out of a tree) Bücker Bü 131 Jungmann (freshman, young man) and tell of the crash landing and its pilot's fate in "Three days confined to barracks for a “Flying Obscenity”". 

"Photos with a story: Hit by Flak – Return Flight with No Rudder!" tells the short story over three pages of Oblt. Kunigk's incredible return flight after he was hit by flak over the Smolensk section of the "Operation Citadel" front. It shows the damage to the aircraft and the coloured illustration created to commemorate the unlikely return of the pilot and plane. 
Eight pages, black and white and colour photos of in the section "Awards: the honour goblet for distinguished achievement in the air war". This story tells and shows the rarely seen goblet awarded to airmen for "distinguished achievement in the air". Several photos of the goblet in clear colour that show both the German cross and two eagles fighting on it are intriguing. The conditions of receiving this reward, the pilots in earlier and then later war receiving the reward are shown as is the goblet as part of a funeral procession of a deceased pilot. Photos and accounts here show the significance of the reward. It is odd that a subject is often not covered or known of by a lot of readers out there I would think.

The last two pages and rear cover show the seaplanes of Seenot Staffel 8 in the Black Sea. the pages tell of several of the unit's missions in the Do 24 floatplanes, escorting bombers, resuing Russian sailors (!) and evacuating wounded and personnel from the Sevastopol pocket in 1943. We see three photos of the aircraft and a map of the Sevastopol operation on these pages. 
...And that is all they wrote for issue #30 of Luftwaffe Im Focus!

Does it match up to the previous books in the series? Do the articles interesting and clear rare photos? Does the book read well and is it full of interesting stories? Yes to all of these!

A great book very much earning its place amongst the series and a great read.

Adam Norenberg

This book is now available through the mail order page for €19.60 Euro (minus P&P depending on where you live) from the Luftfahrtverlag-Start web page