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Some days it seems like every newly published book covers the air war. Here are brief notes on five new books about aircraft, air operations, and airmen.
Forsyth, Robert with Eddie J. Creek, Stephen Ransom, and Werner Stocker. Mistel: German Composite Aircraft and Operations, 1942-1945. Crowborough, England: Classic Publications, 2001
Author's Preface and Acknowledgements; Foreword; Introduction; photos; maps; charts; tables; diagrams; technical drawings; color plates; Table of Ranks and Glossary; Source Notes; Bibliography; Index
The gang at Classic Publications never fails to amaze with big, solid books packed full of more information on any given subject than anyone else has ever mustered, and the new Mistel volume is no exception. Forsyth opens his book with early British experiments with composite aircraft, summed up with the quote "I am not convinced that it has any real usefulness." The Germans, of course, thought otherwise and began marrying worn-out bombers to dorsal-mounted fighters in configurations that resembled bizarre air show acrobatic craft more than warplanes. With the long proboscis designed to maximize the force and direction of the blast, the impact of a pilot-less, explosive-laden bomber was at least the equivalent of a Japanese kamikaze. Forsyth provides a strong narrative covering the machines, the men, and the operations, along with a mass of supporting photos, tables, diagrams, technical drawings, and documents in the usual Classic fashion. And, like other Classic books, the overall layout and presentation is very effective. Strong stuff.
Bernad, Denes. Henschel Hs 129 in Action. Carrollton, TX: Squadron Signal Publications, Inc, 2001.
Photos; technical drawings; color plates
Number 176 in Squadron/Signal's In Action series, this slender volume looks much the same as all the others in the series: 8.25" x 11" turned on its side, colorful air action scene on the cover, two pages of color plates, and page after page of crisp photos aimed at modelers who need detailed close-up views of the aircraft from every angle. There are also many technical drawings (of nose profiles, weaponry, fuselages, etc), technical specifications, and detailed illustrations of instrument panels. Following the Introduction, Bernad covers development of the various models (Hs 129A-0, Hs 129-0/B-1, Hs 129B-2, Hs 129B-3) and then the Hs 129 in service in North Africa, on the Russian front, and with the Rumanian Air Force. As with other books in the series, however, most of the text actually appears as captions to the many black-and-white photos around which the book is built. The book closes with a table detailing production information for the Hs 129. Readers interested in Bernad's book about the Hs 129 will also want to take a look at the Classic Publications volume covering the same aircraft.
Spick, Mike. Luftwaffe Bomber Aces: Men, Machines, Methods. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2001. Published in the UK by Greenhill Books.
Prologue; photos; maps; tables; diagrams; Bibliography; Index
Appendix: Main Luftwaffe Bomber and Attack Aircraft
Mike Spick previously wrote Luftwaffe Fighter Aces and the title of this book, like that one, is slightly misleading. While there is a sectionin fact, two chaptersdevoted to biographical sketches of leading bomber pilots, mostly Spick reviews the course of bomber and attack aircraft operations on all fronts, including Poland, France in 1940, the Battle of Britain, the Russian front, and North Africa. Spick proves very adept at tying together technical details, operational nuances, and first hand accounts with thoughtful analysis, and the whole is nicely enhanced by charts and diagrams such as "Fighter evasion with a Ju 88," assorted bomber formations, profile of a dive bombing approach, "A Mistel attack," and more. (Spick's material on the Mistel can't compare with Forsyth's entire book on that subjectsee abovebut it remains packed with valuable tidbits.) Tabular additions include seven Luftwaffe OBs. Written by someone who obviously knows his subject.
Williams, David P. Hunters of the Reich, volume one: Night Fighters. Stroud, England: Tempus Publishing Ltd, 2001
Foreword; Introduction; Acknowledgments; photos; maps; Glossary; Bibliography
Appendices: German Medals and Awards; Victories, Promotions, and Awards; Top Night Fighter Pilots; Airfields
While the title of Mike Spick's book might lead the casual observer to believe it mostly contains biographical information about Luftwaffe pilots, that's actually the content of David P. Williams' new book from Tempus. Williams devotes his five chapters to five pilots of the night fighter force, the Nachtjagd: Wolfgang Falck, Georg Hermann Greiner, Werner Hoffmann, Peter Spoden, and Paul Zorner. The sketches cover each pilot's youth, their training, military service with an emphasis on night operations, and their postwar lives. Lots of air-to-air action as well as more reflective moments about the comradely bonds among pilots (including enemy pilots). Most of this material comes directly from interviews and correspondence with the flyers.
Reed, Robert T. Lost Black Sheep: The Search for WWII Ace Chris Magee. Central Point, OR: Hellgate Press, 2001
Acknowledgments; Introduction; photos; Epilogue; Postscript; Bibliography; Index
"Pappy" Boyington and his Black Sheep, propelled in part by transcendent books by Bruce Gamble (The Black Sheep and Black Sheep One), have proved to be perennial favorites within the WWII genre, and author Robert Reed offers an interesting new biography of one of Boyington's best pilots, Chris Magee, along with a very catchy twist. The biography opens in orthodox fashion as it traces Magee through a life nearly as wild and out of control as Boyington himself. Where Boyington ended up in a Japanese POW camp, after distinguishing himself in aerial combat Magee ended up in prison for bank robbery. That would be enough for a typical biography, but Reed has much more up his sleeve in this low-key but engrossing story which ends up moving far beyond the air-to-air combat of Magee's war years.
All of these books are available from online booksellers, local bookshops, or directly from the publishers.
Reviewed 19 August 2001
Copyright © 2001 by Bill Stone
May not be reproduced in any form without written permission of Stone & Stone
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