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German Fighter Since 1915 Hardcover – May 19, 2003
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
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What it IS is quite nice, and a very interesting read. The author was an aeronautical engineer during the thirties and forties - this is a translation of his German. The book is illustrated with black and white photographs - very nicely reproduced, but by and large they have been published before (or since?) in English language books. The first page of several key German patents are reproduced, giving some great background on the origins of machine gun synchronisation. Line illustrations are nice, but small and not to any consistent scale, and there could be a lot more of them.
The author's coverage of WWI (and earlier) aircraft is fairly cursory, but interesting, because it is from a totally different perspective (that of the aero engineer). Lots of background information and coverage of the fighter competitions of 1918 - but (for instance) no systematic lists of the aircraft involved or their performances.
The coverage of the German "interwar" period is even more interesting - including fascinating information about the selection process by which the Bf 109 was chosen as the Luftwaffe's standard fighter (over the He 112), not to mention some information at least about the advanced "fighter" trainers of the thirties.
The WWII coverage deals, again, mostly with "major" types - and concentrates on the purely technical side rather than detailed descriptions, or accounts of war-time service. The story it presents of the development of the Me 262, in particular I found most illuminating. While Hitler's well-known interference is documented - the fact emerges that the German jets could not have entered service any earlier with the best will in the world for technical reasons, particularly the slow development of early German jet engines. Adolf Galland's contention that there could have been hundreds of jet fighters opposing the Allied bombing offensive over Germany by early 1944 is very firmly debunked, without actually being mentioned.
"German fighters" since the war have been principally cooperative efforts with other European countries - although the work ends in the mid 1980s there is not a great volume of more recent matter anyway.
In summary - not at all what I expected, but of great interest to this particular aviation history "nut" all the same. More a book to add to an already extensive library on the subject than a "first introduction" and definitely not a comprehensive reference work.
Few take you behind the scenes to discuss why a particular design was chosen...and very few take you into the inner workings of the German aircraft industry.
The author takes the reader into the aircraft designers and German bureaucracy and discusses the evolution of German fighter aircraft.
The section of WWI types is impressive, he discusses the transition from monoplane to bi-plane s and presenting excellent photos and drawings on the major types.
He was an aeronautical engineer and engineering pilot for Heinkel and Arado during the war and can present his opinions as on the strength and weaknesses of the varying types. In fact, he was asked by the Luftwaffe to review the Me-262 jet and He-162 programs and write reports for senior leaders. His knowledge of the German jet and rocket programs is impressive and he gives a lot of details on the various types.
It never gets too technical and is very well illustrated with photos and 3 view drawings of the major types but also the rarely seen proposals not chosen for production.
My only complaint is the translation from the original German is occasionally "clunky", but it's not distracting. I wish I could read German to explore some of the German language books listed in the bibliography.
If you're interested in WWII aviation and would like some first person history, I strongly recommend this book.