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Hermann, Dietmar. Focke-Wulf Ta 152: The Story of the Luftwaffe's Late-War, High-Altitude Fighter. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Military History, 1999
ISBN 0-7643-0860-2Author Dietmar Hermann (his name is misspelled on the cover) delves into the history of the German Ta 152 fighter, an aircraft developed by Kurt Tank, the chief designer at Focke-Wulf, from the basic Fw 190 design and designated "Ta" in recognition of his achievements. Because of a series of delays, notably the Luftwaffe's reluctance to divert resources from other projects such as the Me 209A, the project moved forward at a glacial pace. Several versions of the Ta 152 (including the A, B "heavy fighter", and C "fighter-bomber") were abandoned along the way, but prototypes of the high-altitude Ta 152 H were constructed in the second half of 1944 and production began in November of that year, with the first machines reaching the Luftwaffe at the end of January 1945. By this time, however, mounting manufacturing problems were already cutting into the program and only a handful of production machines were actually completed, as opposed to plans for in excess of 15,000 aircraft. "Curiously, in April 1945 all of the blueprints for the Focke-Wulf Ta 152 were sold to Japan; however, no production of the Ta 152 was undertaken there."
Focke-Wulf Ta 152 is illustrated with wartime photos and documents and is relatively text-heavy in comparison to the other titles mentioned here. While quite a handsome volume, it lacks color except on the dust jacket.
Mombeek, Eric with J. Richard Smith and Eddie J. Creek. Jagdwaffe, volume one, section 1: Birth of the Luftwaffe Fighter Force. Crowborough, East Sussex: Classic Publications, 1999
Classic Publications with this volume commences what promises to be an important addition to Luftwaffe literature, especially for those interested in camouflage, color schemes, and markings.
In comparison to Hermann's book, Mombeek and his cohorts rely less on text, restricting their words to a few brief pages of narrative plus captions and sidebars. In addition to period black and white photos, the illustrators offer full color treatments of various pre-war fighters and their markings. Much of the material presented will be of most use to modelers, but the authors also present orders of battle, recollections from Luftwaffe personnel, and brief biographical sketches of important air leaders covering the period 1919-1938.
This is far and away the most beautiful of the lot. Layout, color, images, typography, and artistic detail all display a visual flair that makes Birth of the Luftwaffe Fighter Force stand out as something special.
Roba, Jean-Louis and Cristian Craciunoiu. Romanian Black Hussars: Grupul 3 Picaj. Bucharest: Modelism International, 1998
When Rumanian forces joined the war against the Soviet Union, their air component was already dismally obsolete with its mix of Polish, Italian, French, and British equipment. Early in 1943 Germany agreed to provide equipment and training for a Rumanian Ju 87 Stuka group-- not the finest aircraft then employed by the Luftwaffe, but an improvement over the battered remnants still serving in the Rumanian air force.
Roba and Craciunoiu chronicle the formation of "Grupul 3" and then, beginning with June 1943, devote month-by-month chapters -- usually with impressive lists of daily missions -- to the activities of the Rumanian flyers. In July 1943, for example, in addition to noting each mission, the number of aircraft involved, and the mission target (as well as existence of any escorts), the authors tally 57 total sorties (this would appear to be something of a mistranslation for "missions"), 770 "planes used" (this seems to be "sorties"), 5 planes lost, and 3 crewmen KIA. In April 1944 all surviving personnel were evacuated from Sevastopol by seaplane.
The illustrations -- wartime photos and sketches -- are entirely black and white and the text is not especially sparkling (many pilots are quoted, as well as chunks from Mark Axworthy's Third Axis, Fourth Ally), but all-in-all this is a credible effort, especially considering it was published in Bucharest about an air unit unfamiliar to most English-language readers and researchers.
Roba, Jean-Louis and Cristian Craciunoiu. Seaplanes over the Black Sea: German-Romanian Operations, 1941-1944. Bucharest: Modelism International, 1995
Much as they did with the Rumanian Stuka group in Romanian Black Hussars, authors Roba and Craciunoiu dig into another obscure corner of Russian front air operations. This volume, very similar in format to the Stuka book, but pre-dating it by three years, discusses the pre-war evolution of Rumanian air-sea air units and the German-Rumanian force's first missions -- and the first Soviet air strikes against them -- on 22 June 1941. Subsequent chapters describe ongoing anti-naval patrols, rescue missions, and other sorties. Ongoing Soviet air strikes and occasional air-to-air engagements are also covered. The closing chapter tells of the final days of the Rumanian pilots and their seaplanes following departure of the Germans and arrival of the Soviets in 1944.
As with the other Modelism title, Seaplanes over the Black Sea is a credible but unspectacular book. Its biggest weakness comes from its lack of organization and its fractured English; its greatest appeal comes from the obscurity of its topic.
Crandall, Jerry. EagleFiles #1: Doras of the Galland Circus. Hamilton, MT: Eagle Editions Ltd, 1999
Crandall begins the story of JV 44 with about seven heavily-illustrated pages of text explaining the origins of the unit and providing biographical information about its pilots. The "Red 1", "Red 3", "Red 4", and "Red 13" machines are then described (colors of under surfaces, upper surfaces, spinner, and prop blades; unit emblem; stenciling; personal markings; and national markings on fuselage and wings), illustrated with black and white photos (many featuring GIs posing on planes at the captured field), and dazzlingly revealed in Tom Tullis' original, full color artwork. (Tullis, by the way, is also responsible for some of the beautiful illustrations in Birth of the Luftwaffe Fighter Force.) Three more chapters round out the book: "Ainring Airfield, 1945", "Other Aircraft at Ainring", and "The Helicopters at Ainring".
Although it lacks the visual flair of Birth of the Luftwaffe Fighter Force and the depth of textual information in Focke-Wulf Ta 152, this is an attractive, interesting volume and not only modelers but many in the Luftwaffe research community will want to own a copy.
Thanks to the publishers for providing these review copies.
Reviewed 28 July 1999
Copyright © 1999 by Bill Stone
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