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Four recently arrived softcover publications on the air war comprise a set of brief reviews for today:
Bernad, Denes. Rumanian Air Force: The Prime Decade, 1938-1947. Carrollton, TX: Squadron/Signal Publications, 1999
Denes Bernad, born in Transylvania but currently residing in Canada, packs a great deal of information into this slim volume. He opens with ten pages of text providing an overview of the Rumanian Air Force (FARR or ARR) during World War II-- mostly on the side of the Germans against the Soviet Union, but also in the last months of the war on the side of the Soviets against Germany. The next sections offer a more detailed account of men, aircraft, units, and operations but split this material a bit oddly according to aircraft type, with fighters, bombers, seaplanes, etc treated separately. Nonetheless, these sections offer much in the way of sorties, unit IDs, precise numbers, and statistics. Other tables provide hard data on ARR aces, aircraft specifications and serial numbers, ARR rank equivalents, combat unit structures, and so on.
This is a hot little item and highly recommended for historians (the best English-language account of the Rumanian Air Force in WWII), modelers (nice color plates of Rumanian aircraft), and photo buffs (loads of unusual shots of Rumanian planes and pilots).
Smith, Peter C. Luftwaffe at War: Stukas over the Steppe: The Blitzkrieg in the East, 1941-1945. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1999
Where Bernad's book has much to offer historians, modelers, and fans of vintage aerial photographs, the Luftwaffe at War series (published jointly by Greenhill Books in the UK and Stackpole Books in the US), caters mostly to the latter category of book buyers.
As part of that larger series, this volume focuses on German Ju 87 Stuka operations on the Russian Front. Beyond four pages of introductory text, the entire volume comprises nothing but photos and captions. The first eight pages of photos are in color while the remainder are black-and-white. For those interested in such photographic images, there are plenty here, many of them never seen before and including some unusual shots (such as the Soviet floating AA battery protecting Sevastopol).
Griehl, Manfred. Luftwaffe at War: German Jets, 1944-1945. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1999
Like Stukas over the Steppe, this volume, German Jets, 1944-1945, is part of the Luftwaffe at War series from Greenhill and Stackpole. And, also like the other volumes in the series, beyond the first four pages of introductory text the slender book is devoted exclusively to photos and captions.
These shots of various models of German jets -- with eight pages in color -- show them in various states of repair: a few in flight, but most on the ground and many of them crashed or in pieces. There are also quite a few closeups of cockpits, instrument panels, landing gear, etc. This photographic survey appears a bit more jumbled and uneven than other volumes in the series, but perhaps that's due to the hurried, mostly abortive nature of the German jet programs.
Mombeek, Eric with J. Richard Smith and Eddie J. Creek. Luftwaffe Colours: Jagdwaffe, volume one, section 2: The Spanish Civil War. Crowborough, East Sussex: Classic Publications, 1999
The latest gem from Classic bears a close family resemblance to the first volume in the Luftwaffe Colours series, Birth of the Luftwaffe Fighter Force. Fortunately, it's a gorgeous family and the new title is an attractive addition to the clan.
Like Bernad with Rumanian Air Force, Mombeek and the gang at Classic have gone several steps beyond merely assembling and captioning period photos. Sure, crisp photographic images abound -- of men and aircraft -- but they've been skillfully woven into an informative book rather than a simple photo album. Even so, Mombeek relies less on a single narrative thread than does Bernad. Instead, a series of chronological chunks are assembled with background text, photos, sidebars (including commentary from pilots who were there), emblems, and color plates of the Luftwaffe fighters. The result is educational and visually stunning. Definitely recommended.
All available from online booksellers, local bookshops, or directly from the publishers.
Reviewed 30 November 1999
Copyright © 1999 by Bill Stone
May not be reproduced in any form without written permission of Stone & Stone
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