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  1. P-47 Thunderbolt with the USAAF - European Theatre of Operation Kagero SMI Library #05 ISBN – 9788362878505 Cataloge # 19005 Available directly from Kagero, and Kagero stockists. Kagero's SMI Library series is a photo album publication that spotlight's a particular aircraft or machine during a certain time period or during an operation theatre. The fifth volume of the SMI Library is dedicated to the USAAF P-47 Thunderbolts that served in the European Theatre of Operations (ETO) of World War Two. P-47 Thunderbolt with the USAAF – European Theatre of Operations book is a softcover A4 size title with a total of eighty four pages. On the first thirteen pages is a general introduction and a quick history lession on Thunderbolts variants, deployment and operational service during the European Theatre. The text is written in English and Polish, so technically you are only getting six and half pages of text... So if you are looking for an in depth history and examination on the P-47 Thunderbolt, then this isn't the book you... You should be checking out Kagero's "Monograph" series, volumes 17, 20, 24 and 28 for your requirements. The main body of the book is centred around 93 greyscale and 12 colour photographs of the P-47 Thunderbolt during the second world war, with English and Polish captions for each photograph. All the photographs are clear and in excellent focus. Each photo is a good size too, the smallest photo is roughly about a quarter of the page to the whole page, but the majority of the photos are half a page. The photos consist of many closes up of Noseart's, armament and airframe sections, which will be a good resource for modellers and artists. The standout photos from the book to me, are the ones that are taken from a Thunderbolt gun camera which shows photos of a damaged Bf109 and Fw 190 being shot down, an attack run on a convey with an exploding truck and a P-47 flying right through a ball of fire. Towards the end of the book you get 12 colour photographs that have been well published in the past, but it's still nice to have them all located together for quick reference. Also included is a useful spreadsheet of the 8th and 9th Air Force units equipped with Thunderbolts. These are divided into Fighter Groups, Fighter Squadrons of each Group and code letters for each squadron. On the final pages of the USAAF P-47 Thunderbolts that served in the European Theatre of Operations book, are four P-47 Thunderbolts are four beautiful colour profiles painted by Janusz Światloń, which includes two Razorback and two Bubbletop variants, which are – - Belle of Belmont, P-47D-22-RE, s/n #42-26293, coded 'UN-L' and flown by Lt. Armand A. Laflam of 63rd FS / 56th FG, - Miss Fire / Rosie Geth II, P-47D-25-RE, s/n #42-26628, coded 'LM-C' and flown by Capt. Frederick J. Christensen Jr. of 62nd FS / 56th FG, - Kansas Tornado II, P-47D-22-RE, s/n #42-26249, coded '2Z-D' and flown by Lt. Howard J. Curran of 510th FS / 405th FG, - Jeanie, P-47D-28-RE, s/n #44-20209, coded '7U-W' of the 23rd FS / 36th FG. One thing I love about most about Kagero, is that they include decals for aircraft that have been covered in the title, in this case the four Thunderbolts that are list above. The decal sheet, which is beautifully printed by Cartograf. The decal sheet covers all three major scales of 1:32, 1:48, and 1:72. The Decal Sheet is high quality as you would expect from Cartograf, there is no printing misalignments, the colours are excellent and bold and very thin carrier film. So what do we think? If your love is for Big Jug's of the P-47 kind... Then this book is for you! Fantastic decal schemes are included, tons of clear reference photos... I am in Jug heaven! Are you? Highly Recommended Our sincere thanks to Kagero for the review samples used here. To purchase this directly, click the links in the review article.
  2. JG 51 - Jagdgeschwader Mölders Kagero - Units 4 by Marek J. Murawski Available from Kagero Publishing for €16.71 Werner "Vati" Mölders was one of the Luftwaffe's early luminaries and the leading German fighter ace in the Spanish Civil War. Mölders became the first pilot in to claim 100 aerial victories and was highly decorated for his achievements. He was instrumental in the development of new fighter tactics which led to the finger four formation. Mölders joined the Luftwaffe in 1934 at the age of 21. In 1938, he volunteered for service in the Legion Kondor, which supported General Franco's Nationalist side in the Spanish Civil War, and shot down 15 aircraft. During the Battle of France and the Battle of Britain he claimed another 53 enemy aircraft. With his tally standing at 68 victories, Mölders and his unit, Jagdgeschwader 51 (JG 51), were transferred to the East in June 1941 for the opening of Operation Barbarossa.. By the end of 22 June 1941, the first day of Barbarossa, he had added another four victories to his tally and a week later, Mölders surpassed Manfred Von Richtofen's 1918 record of 80 victories. By mid-July, he had 100. Prevented from flying further combat missions for propaganda reasons, at the age of 28 Mölders was promoted to Oberst, and appointed Inspector General of Fighters.. He was inspecting the Luftwaffe units in the Crimea when he was ordered to Berlin to attend the state funeral of Ernst Udet, the World War I flying ace. On the flight to Berlin, the Heinkel He 111 in which he was traveling as a passenger encountered a heavy thunderstorm during which one of the aircraft's engines failed. While attempting to land, the Heinkel crashed at Breslau, killing Mölders and two others. Following his death, JG 51 would bear the honorific "Mölders". Jagdgeschwader 51 (JG 51) Mölders is the subject of the latest installment in the "Units" series by Kagero. JG 51's pilots won more Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes than any other Jagdgeschwader, and flew combat from 1939 in all major theatres of war. Flying Bf 109s and then Fw 190s, the wing claimed over 8,000 air victories. Experten included 'Toni' Hafner, Heinrich Hoffmann, Heinz Bär, Richard Leppla, Karl-Gottfried Nordmann, Günther Schack and of course the legendary Mölders. The book follows the familiar format of it's predecessors, 32 pages presented in a soft cover landscape format with English text containing a chronological overview of the unit's history supplemented with 40 photos; tables of unit commanders and planes used as well as color profiles of 4 aircraft painted by Janusz Światłoń and Arkadiusz Wróbel. A decal sheet printed by Cartograf contains 1:72, 1:48 and 1:32 individual markings for four different aircraft. The narrative begins with the unit's pre-war history, starting off in 1937and contains some interesting photos of early Emils and even an He 51 biplane. It moves on to the campaigns in Poland (minimal participation) the "Phony War" and the Battle of France. After covering the Battle of Britain the focus shifts to and primarily remains on operations in the Soviet Union and the East, although some space is devoted to the Mediterranean theater and the defense of the Reich as well. The text provides a broad historical overview with some achievements by individual pilots and it's squarely aimed at giving you the big picture of the unit rather than a day by day detailed diary. The photos are a nice mix of 109s and 190s and even a couple late war D-9's thrown is as well. The combination of the text and photos should be enough to satisfy most casual historians and modelers. So let's take a look inside. Four color profiles and accompanying decals are provided: Messerschmitt Bf 109 E-4; W.Nr. 1641, 'Black 6', flown by Hptm. Ernst Wiggers, Kapitän of 2./JG 51, St. Inglevert airfield, France, early September 1940 Messerschmitt Bf 109 F-2; W.Nr. 6797; flown by Hptm. Hartmann Grasser, Kommandeur of II./JG 51, probably Orel-Nord airfield, Russia, mid-July 1942 Focke-Wulf Fw 190 A-6; W.Nr. 550182, 'Black 7', flown by Ofw. Josef Jennewein of 2./JG 51, Orel-West airfield, Russia, July 1943 Messerschmitt Bf 109 G-6; W.Nr. 442013, 'Black 1', flown by Oblt. Anton Hafner,Kapitän of 10./JG 51, Hüttenfelde airfield, East Prussia, October 1944 I think Hauptmann Grasser's F-2 will be the clear favorite here with it's full array of unit markings and Luftsieg on the rudder. Decals are beautifully printed by Cartograf, perfect register and minimal carrier film. Not that we expect anything different! So what do we think? Another interesting installment in the "Units" series, providing a little bit everything to the historian and/or modeler at an attractive price. Highly Recommended! With thanks to Kagero for the review sample. To purchase directly, click HERE. Mike O.
  3. St.G 2 "Immelmann" Marek J Murawski Kagero Units #3 Available from Kagero for €16.71 This is the third in Kagero's Units series, and the second one that I have had the chance to look at. The series is still very much a fledgling compared to say the Monographs, and so far they have covered the fighter squadrons JG51, JG52, JG54. The premise is simple: rather than focus on a particular aircraft or campaign, we now see things at unit level, and in this case, the subject is St.G 2 or, to give them their full name, Sturzkampfgeschwader "Immelmann" 2. The book is 32 pages long, in soft back landscape format, so as a unit history it is nothing if not brief. Some of the most well known battles of the Second World War are distilled into a few paragraphs, even if the perspective is always a very narrow unit level one. This is not a criticism - if you want serious historical research or day by day accounts of the say, the Fall of France, there is plenty of material a available. The narrative that is here provides useful colour and background. The book starts with the embryonic Stukagruppe 162 way back in 1934, when equipped with the Heinkel He50. Named after Max Immelmann in 1935, what was then I./Stukagruppe 162 did not receive its first Junkers Ju87s (of A-0 variety) until 1937. The first 'action' the unit saw, if it can be called that, was the annexation of parts of western Czechoslovakia or Sudetenland as the Germans called it. The unit, and indeed the Stuka, really cut its teeth in Poland: the Luftwaffe's first aerial victory was by a Ju87 of I./St.G 2. The next few pages cover further glory in France, and then ignominy in the Battle of Britain. The Ju87s faired better in the Balkans, North Africa and in Russia (Operation Barbarossa), at least for the next year or so, before the tide began to turn against Germany. As the war in the East progressed, so too did St.G 2's operations: Stalingrad - where Stukas continued to operate within the encirclement until as late as January 1943; the key city of Kharkov; the mammoth Kursk offensive of Operation Zitadelle and so on. In October 1943, the unit was renamed Schlachtgeschwader 2 "Immelmann", or SG2, and there, rather abruptly, the book ends. The final pages list commanding officers of the various St.G 2 Gruppen, and also an inventory of serviceable aircraft from March 1942 until September 1943. Throughout the book there are numerous black and white photographs of St.G 2 aircraft in action or being serviced on the ground; none are in colour, and many are of not so great quality, but that is the nature of the beast I guess. What sets Kagero apart from their competitors is the addition of decals with pretty many of their books in this field. There are decals for four aircraft - all Ju87 Bs- in the three main scales of 1/32, 1/48 and 1/72; each of the aircraft have either two sided or four way colour profiles, plus accompanying notes. The subjects covered are: Ju87 B-2 Trop T6+DP 6./St.G 2 "Immelmann" Tmimi airfield, Libya, Summer 1941 Splinter scheme with extensive tan overspray, creating a blotchy effect. This must be one of the most famous and iconic airframes of the whole Second World War, and yet there are still no pictures of the starboard side, and we still can't decide it seems on what colour 'the snake' was - red spots, or tan? The latter is provided here, in keeping with recent thinking. No photo of this aircraft in the book. Ju87 B-2 WNr 313 T6+IH I./St.G 2 "Immelmann" Krainici airfield, Bulgaria, March 1941 Standard splinter scheme. Actually rather dull, save for the large 'Scotty' dog emblem on either side. No photo of this aircraft in the book. Ju87 B-2 T6+HL 3./St.G 2 "Immelmann" Tyrkovo airfield, Russia, Autumn 1941 Splinter scheme with yellow theatre markings - fuselage band and underside wing tips. Scotty dog on yellow background this time. Once again, no photo of this aircraft in the book. Ju87 B-2 +G Probably 3./St.G 2 "Immelmann" Gortskovo airfield, Russia, December 1941 Heavy winter whitewash obscures nearly all the splinter underneath. Brushed whitewash produces an apparent 'shark mouth' on the radiator fairing - whether intended or not, I am not decided. This aircraft is pictured on p21, so see what you think? Some observations on the decals and their subjects. First, they are printed by Cartograf, and therefore will be of excellent quality. However, the whitewashed aircraft aside, the other subjects for which decals are provided are not shown in any photos. I would much prefer to have photographic confirmation of what I am modelling - so why not show these pictures, or chose different but similar subjects? And whilst our snake-adorned friend is an obvious choice, the two middle subjects are a trifle drab in my opinion. Conclusion Overall I think these books are a good combination of elements of a regular decal set, together with an abbreviated unit history. As I said in my previous review, this series is like a blend of an Osprey Aircraft of the Aces book and an EagleCals decal sheet - not the worst combination in the world. Price also needs to be mentioned here: I think it's a fairly good value proposition. Recommended With thanks to Kagero for the review sample. To purchase directly, click HERE. Nicholas Mayhew
  4. "Messerschmitt Bf 109s over the Mediterranean, Part I" Maciej Góralczyk and Arkadiusz Wróbel Kagero Publishing Available from Kagero for €14.10 Kagero has released "Mini Topcolors 34, Messerschmitt Bf 109s over the Mediterranean, Part I". The Bf 109 remains an incredibly popular (and sometimes controversial) subject for WWII modelers and when dressed up in Mediterranean livery you get some great subjects to model. When you think of this theater of operations, JG 27 usually springs to mind. The iconic desert camouflaged Emils and names like Marseille, Schröer and Homuth are familiar to most of us but other units played a significant role in theater as well. As with every other theater the Luftwaffe operated in, the Med gave rise to many ad-hoc, field applied paint schemes. When combined with the usual array of unit insignias, personal markings, ID bands and the like you get some neat looking aircraft that will look great on the shelf, as well as challenge your airbrushing skills! The Topcolors format is simple, four view color profiles (with scratch drawings as required), a short description of the aircraft and a decal sheet printed by Cartograf with markings in 1/72, 1/48 and 1/32 scale. The 20 pages are presented in the usual soft cover landscape format. Arkadiusz Wróbel has done his usual stellar work on the color profiles and the eight subjects included in the book gives a nice cross section of 109s operating in North Africa and Italy. Let's take a look at what's inside: Taking a little closer look at the profiles, here's what's included: Messerschmitt Bf 109 E-7/N; probably W.Nr. 4139, 'White 11', flown by Lt. Theo Lindemann of 7./JG 26, Ain-el-Gazala, Libya, summer 1941, Messerschmitt Bf 109 F-4 trop; flown by Ofw. Karl-Heinz Bendert of Stab II./JG 27, Derna, Libya, December 1941, Messerschmitt Bf 109 F-4 trop; W.Nr. 8665, flown by Lt. Gustav Frielinghaus of Stab II./JG 3, Sicily, Italy, early 1942, Messerschmitt Bf 109 F-4/Z; W.Nr. 13060, 'Yellow 2', flown by Uffz. Karl-Heinz Witschke of 3./JG 77, Comiso, Italy, early July 1942, Messerschmitt Bf 109 G-2 trop; 'Black 7' of 2./JG 77, Tunisia, early 1943, Messerschmitt Bf 109 G-2/R2 trop; 'Black 19' of 2.(H)/14, La Marsa, Tunisia, March 1943, Messerschmitt Bf 109 G-6; 'Yellow 13', flown by Uffz. Hans Jegg of 9./JG 53, Italy, summer 1943, Messerschmitt Bf 109 G-6 trop; 'Black 8' of 5./JG 27, Trapani, Italy, summer 1943. "Black 7" with it's meandering green squiggles and "Black 8" with the rarely seen Staffel emblem of 5./JG 27 are particularly interesting Gustavs. Decals are beautifully printed by Cartograf and are in perfect register, with authentic colour and minimal carrier film. So what do we think? Another interesting installment in the Topcolors series. While the subject may not appeal to everyone it certainly will appeal to Bf 109 and Luftwaffe enthusiasts. The only nitpick I have, and this relates to the Topcolors series in general, is the lack of spinner spiral decals. You're either going to have source them from another decal sheet or mask them yourself. With what's included it's certainly a good value and should be a welcome addition to your WWII aviation library. Highly Recommended! With thanks to Kagero for the review sample. To purchase directly, click THIS link. Mike O
  5. P-38 Lightning at War Kagero Mini Topcolors series #33 by Sadlo & Goralczyk €13.35 from Kagero This is another offering from Kagero's burgeoning Mini Topcolors series. Having just reviewed #32 (Panzer IV Family) I was tempted to say that this, #33, is 'the latest', but it seems Kagero are churning these out faster than we can review them! Whether latest or just fairly new, this one covers the Lockheed P-38 Lightning, the twin engine, twin boom interceptor that is one of the most recognisable aeroplane shapes of WWII. The formula for these is by now tried and tested: focus on a particular vehicle / aircraft, and / or maybe a particular campaign, colour profiles with some commentary, and high quality decals in the most popular scales to accompany at least a proportion of said profiles. Like the other mini Topcolours I have reviewed, this book is 20 pages long, and in the usual soft back landscape format. It has covers eight aircraft, all shown in four view profiles, and all catered for with decals in 1/72, 1/48 and 1/32 scale. The profiles look sumptuously weathered by the way, and are certainly anything but the sterile offerings I have seen in some other publisher's books. The subjects covered are: P-38G-13-LO, probable s/n 42-2197, 'Nulli Secundus' / 'X-Virgin', flown by Lt. Kenneth G. Ladd of 80th FS / 8th FG, Dobodura, New Guinea, winter of 1943/1944 P-38J-15-LO, s/n 42-104107, 'Jewboy', coded '47', flown by Lt. Philip M. Goldstein of 49th FS / 14th FG, Triolo, Italy, May 1944 P-38J-10-LO, s/n 42-67916, 'California Cutie', coded (KI)- 'S', flown by Lt. Richard O. Loehnert of 55th FS / 20th FG, RAF Kings Cliffe, England, June 1944 P-38J-15-LO, s/n 43-28444, 'Vivacious Virgin II', coded 'E6-T', flown by Lt. Ian B. Mackenzie of 402nd FS / 370th FG, Florennes/Juxaine, Belgium, winter of 1944/1945 P-38L-1-LO, s/n 44-23852, 'Beautiful Bitch', coded 'B7', flown by Lt. John J. Kane of 96th FS / 82nd FG, Vincenzo, Italy, March 1945 P-38L-5-LO, s/n 44-26176, 'Vagrant Virgin', coded 'A', flown by Lt. L. V. Bellusci of 36th FS / 8th FG, San Jose, Mindoro, late 1944/early 1945 P-38L-5-LO, s/n 44-26176, 'Vagrant Virgin', coded 'A', flown by Lt. Peter Macgowan of 36th FS / 8th FG, Ie Shima, September 1945 P-38L-5-LO, probable s/n 44-26568, 'Wicked Woman', coded 'W', flown by Lt. Richard C. Livingston of 36th FS / 8th FG, Ie Shima, August-September 1945. No national markings - or stencils - are provided in the decal sheet, but you would get these anyway in your kit; in the larger scales, and if really going for authenticity, you might use masks anyway, so I don't think this is a serious omission. Furthermore, including these would likely drive up the price, which is extremely competitive when benchmarked against a new EagleCals sheet (where you'll never get markings for eight aircraft). As regards the kits you would use, I imagine that 1/72 and 1/48 are relatively well-served, but I cannot really comment since I have not modelled in these scales for some years now. In 1/32, you'll use the fairly decent Trumpeter P-38 which is a 'L' variant; I'm no expert on this esoteric bird, but I think making it as a 'J' model - the subject of some of the profiles - is fairly easy and will not require major correction? Making a P-38G, the subject I the first profile, will require a correction set produced by Grey Matter Figures. My modelling subjects are usually motivated by a personal connection to either the subject or the location, campaign etc, rather than by flashy nose art or cool looking camouflage. With that being said, the decal sheet for this book really took my breath away - it certainly has that 'wow' factor. Of the eight subjects, only one ('Jewboy') lacks nose art. In providing subjects across a range of marks, and in both natural metal as well as OD/Grey (including one with full Invasion Stripes), there is something for everyone. My only reservation is why the same aircraft is covered twice, when there was clearly plethora of colourful options at the author's disposal. There are a few pictures of the subject aircraft at the beginning, and it is a shame that there aren't more, but perhaps neither space (or copyright?) permitted. I do wish that aircraft specific references were provided for those that wish to do further research. Conclusion Quite striking subjects and excellent decals printed in three scales. Purely as a decal pack alone these Mini Topcolors are great value. The ever increasing coverage of both air and armour means Kagero should be a 'go to' for modellers looking for subject matter inspiration and high quality markings. Highly recommended. With thanks to Kagero for the review sample. To purchase directly, click THIS link. Nicholas Mayhew
  6. Messerschmitt Bf109 F - The Ace Maker by Marek Murawski €23.59 from Kagero Overview This is the first of a new Special Edition version of Kagero's extensive Monograph series. It looks at what many to consider to be the definitive version of the Luftwaffe's iconic fighter, the Bf109 F, or 'Friedrich'. At over 180 pages, in softback A4 format, this is certainly quite a meaty volume. The coverage at first glance is extensive, and includes the following: design history chronological walk through of sub-variants accounts of the aircraft in various campaigns and theatres original handbook extracts scale drawings showing differences between sub-variants pull-out plans in 1/32 scale A quick word about format: my first thoughts on this book are why on earth does Kagero not use a contents page? They insist on not having one it seems. Yes, as a reviewer, this makes my job much harder to get a 'feel' for the book quickly (boo-hoo I can hear you all say). But it will also frustrate any purchaser when trying to use this book. I say 'use' because this is not a novel which one just picks up and reads from start to finish. It is - presumably - meant to be a reference work, which will be continually dipped in and out of for particular pieces of information. Come on Kagero – give us a detailed contents page in future! Design History and Variants The first 'chapter' if I can call it that covers design history and descriptions of the variants. Just over 20 pages are devoted to the initial concept, prototypes, through the well-known production Marks F-2 and F-4, and then finally to experimental aircraft and test beds. I found the transcript of Kesselring's report on the problems with the F-2 particularly interesting, and this was not something that I had seen before. When considering information about the Bf109 F, and in particular about the F-2 and F-4, there are certain things I look for. These include, but are not limited to: the different supercharger intakes panel line differences on wing upper surfaces - notable the relatively recent discovery of the 'smooth wing' F-2 possible correlation with different slat mechanisms different oil coolers F-4z and associated propeller blade and fuel type changes In my opinion the majority of the above are not satisfactorily dealt with. There is no mention that I could find of panel line differences, Octane levels on fuel and so on (perhaps I might have done with contents or index pages, who knows?). The different supercharger intakes are touched upon, but are not clearly pointed out in photos at this stage. Of more concern is the fact that to my eye all the intakes in the plans look identical in shape, ring bolt for Trop filter excepted, and I really don't think this was the case. I am no expert on the Friedrich, but I have researched a modelling subject in 1/32 scale (Edu Neumann's F-2) and found all these things out myself (thank you to those who have helped); their absence here makes me rather suspicious. When considering differences between variants of aircraft, I much prefer the way the Valiant Wings series of books have dealt with things: technical information in clear and consistent format, accompanied by bullet point highlights - ideal for quick reference. 20 pages sounds a lot to cover the description of what is after all only two main variants that most people would want to know about, but actually it's not much at all. The Friedrich In Combat The vast majority of the book's pages are devoted to the Friedrich in combat – just over a hundred pages in fact. The narrative is broken down by campaign to include: Combat Debut over The Channel (36 pages) Messerschmitt Bf109 F over North Africa and Malta (25 pages) Messerschmitt Bf109 F over Russia (40 pages) Once again there are no sub-headings, so each of these has text that pretty much demands a read start to finish. The allocation of coverage is also interesting: whilst I appreciate that the vast majority of action for this type took place in the East, I imagine most people's interest is piqued by the time in North Africa, JG27, and one Hans-Joachim Marseille. If this is not the case, why have Afrika Friedrich's in colour on both front and back cover? The text reads like the well-known Osprey Aircraft of the Aces series, except there is just more of it. My opinions on that series are mixed: great value, great coverage, but ultimately light weight, and more of a teaser than anything else. I think this applies here – it is effectively three of these Osprey books in one. You have to flick through it to get a sense of this (again – contents page!), as the information on the Kagero website tells you the number of pages and pictures, but leaves you none the wiser as to what you're really buying. There are indeed lots of pictures, some in very high definition, but they are all in black and white which is disappointing. I have not analyzed every picture, but when reviewing a book like this one of the first things I do is try to assess the accuracy of the captions. With respect to unit etc, I just do not have the knowledge, but regarding sub-type is a bit easier. I found a few F-4s which look to be F-2s to me (distinctly different supercharger intake, shallower oil cooler). Similarly, there are aircraft labelled as F-4z Trop when they appear to have shallow oil cooler, and the narrower prop blades – a combination I did not think possible. That these are labelled as such without an accompanying explanation again gives me cause for concern – if I can find these just by flicking through, how many more are there? On the plus side, there are a couple of shots of Galland's 'hybrid' Friedrich showing enlarged cowling blisters very clearly indeed. There are also plenty of first-hand accounts of combat which always help you 'feel' as if you almost there in the mess with the pilots after a sortie! For a book called 'The Ace Maker', the focus is more at unit level than on detailed accounts of particular pilots and their exploits – Marseille groupies, you will be disappointed I am afraid. The Star of Afrika's exploits are covered, but not to any significant degree, and there is no mention of how he met his end (in a G-2). I can't help but feel all of these chapters would benefit from some colour photos – there are some truly excellent ones out there. The combat section finishes with a cursory look at camouflage and marking sizes, and foreign users of the Friedrich. Flugzeughandbuch We have an appendix of some 29 pages (stretching my schoolboy memory of Roman numerals) containing excerpts from the Flugzeughandbuch - original Messerschmitt manual for the Bf109 F-1/F-4. Some of the pictures and diagrams are more technical than others, and no translation from the German is provided, but these things are always useful to modellers I find. Scale Plans There are 20 pages of scale plans, plus an A2 size pull out; those in the book proper are a mix of 1/72 and 1/48 scale, whilst those in the pull out are full 1/32. There are also numerous mini plans of things like ETC racks, Revi gun sights, various MGs and so on – I quite like this and think it's a nice touch. After doing some digging, I am pretty sure these plans are taken from Kagero's earlier Top Drawings book. The plans look very impressive but nagging concerns over supercharger shapes, and the fact that all the upper wing panels are the same tells me that this is not a book for the Friedrich 'experten'. There is a sheet highlighting differences between the variants – each bit is shaded so you can see it – which is good, but in profile these are pretty minimal. Annoyingly, yet also quite predictably, Kagero have ducked out of providing head-on scale comparisons of the different prop blades used, and yet they include 1/72 plans of experimental aircraft with underwing rocket packs. I find that nothing illustrates more clearly the 'style over substance nature' of this book than this omission. Profiles There are some 44 colour profiles to finish the book off, mostly single port side, but there are six three / four view ones. Only here will you find a (single) Marseille aircraft, along with five black and white photographs. The profiles look nice - profiles usually do – but I would have preferred more than the cursory description provided. I also think that having these interspersed throughout the book – as an illustration of an aircraft with a particularly clear photo for example – would be much more use to the modeller. Once again the depiction of the supercharger intakes causes concern. Conclusion I can see that some people will love this 'Osprey on steroids' approach, and appreciate all the plans which exude gravitas and authority. My own personal research tends to be rather more specific, so I confess I do tend to judge books like this quite harshly. For those who have explored the nuances of the Friedrich in some detail already, the lack of clear technical descriptions, fudging of some issues and avoidance of others, will expose this book. That being said, it looks impressive, and you get a lot of book for your €24, so I will let you and your own personal preference be the judge. Good value; some technical information questionable. With thanks to Kagero for the review sample. To purchase directly, click THIS link. Nicholas Mayhew
  7. JG 52 - Aces of the Eastern Front Kagero - Units 1 by Marek J. Murawski and Arkadiusz Wróbel Available from Kagero Publishing for €15.71 Following on the success of their popular "Topcolors" series, Kagero has introduced a new line of books, "Units". To quote Kagero: "Units is a new series of small guides on famous units' history filled with photos and colour profiles". The series shares some of the things I loved about the "Topcolors" series, the great color profiles and decals, while introducing wartime photos and a historical narrative of the unit. The inaugural topic for the series is Jagdgeschwader 52 (Fighter Wing 52) and what better unit to start with? The alumnus of JG 52 reads like the honor roll of WW2 air combat, Hartmann, Barkhorn, Rall, Graf, Grislawski, and the list goes on. By war's end JG 52 had claimed the destruction of over 10,000 enemy aircraft at a cost of 678 pilots killed in action. Erich Hartmann and Gerhard Barkhorn would end the war as "triple centurions" netting 352 and 302 aerial victories respectively. Unlike most other Luftwaffe fighter wings who were commonly used in a "fire brigade" role, being frequently transferred to different fronts in response to the latest crisis, after JG 52's transfer to the East for "Operation Barbarossa" they remained there for the duration of the war. The layout is the familiar soft cover landscape, comprising 32 pages. The historical narrative begins with the unit's pre-war origins and follows their trek to the last desperate days in the East. Just to be clear, if you're looking for a comprehensive historical account, this is not it. With 45 photos and four color profiles competing for space in the 32 pages there is only so much historical narrative you can provide. That being said they manage to cover most of the unit's highs (and lows) in the text as well as providing several useful and interesting appendices. Speaking of photos, an interesting mix is provided. Luftwaffe grognards will have no doubt seen most of them before, but I came across a couple that were new to me at least. If Bf 109's aren't your thing you'll be a tad disappointed, JG 52 did not operate the Fw 190 (or any other fighter) during the war so all the aircraft photos are of Willy's original wonder. I'll preface my next statement by telling you that I'm a self-confessed color profile junkie and hoarder of decals, on to the good stuff! Four beautifully rendered color profiles are provided for the following aircraft: Messerschmitt Bf 109 E-3; 'Yellow 5' of 9./JG 52, Coquelles, France, July 1940, Messerschmitt Bf 109 F-2, W.Nr. 8165, flown by Oblt. Karl-Heinz Leesmann, Gruppenkommandeur of I./JG 52, Leeuwarden, the Netherlands, June 1941, Messerschmitt Bf 109 G-4; W.Nr. 19249, 'White 10', flown by Lt. Alfred Grislawski of 7./JG 52, Taman, Russia, late April 1943, Messerschmitt Bf 109 G-10/U4; 'Yellow 11' of II./JG 52, München-Neubiberg, May 1945. I was particularly happy to see "Yellow 11" of II./JG 52 included. I have been fascinated with "Gigi" for some time, an early style tail grafted on to a G-10 airframe. For a comprehensive study of this particular aircraft I'd highly recommend "Bf 109G-10/U4 Production and Operational Service" by JaPo. The other aircraft are interesting as well although I would have like to have seen something from the two foreign Staffeln that served with JG 52, 13./(Slow.) and 15./(Kroat.). Of course I fully realize that no matter what mix of aircraft they provide someone will inevitably wish for something else! Decals are beautifully printed by Cartograf and considering their stellar reputation for high quality they should go down perfectly. So what do we think? I think Kagero has come up with another winner. Fully realizing that you can't be all things to all people, the book should appeal most modellers, casual historians looking for a little background information to go with their project as well as Experten looking for new and unique subjects to model. I'm looking forward to future installments in the series. Highly Recommended. With thanks to Kagero for the review sample. To purchase directly, click HERE. Mike O.
  8. JG54 Green Heart Fighters Kagero Units series #2 by Marek Murawski €15.71 direct from Kagero This is the second in Kagero's new Units series, but part of their well established and ever increasing book empire. The premise is simple: rather than focus on a particular aircraft or campaign, we now see things at unit level, and in this case, the subject is Jagdgeschwader 54. JG 54, whose most enduring emblem was a green heart - hence the 'grun herz' nickname - were formed in 1939, and fought in the Battle of Britain, the Balkans, and then in Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of Russia. By 1943, elements of the unit were fighting on both Western an Eastern Fronts, with the last JG54 kill credited on 8th May 1945 over the Baltic, so this unit truly fought from beginning to end. The book is 32 pages long, in soft back landscape format, so as a unit history it is nothing if not brief. Some of the most significant battles and indeed entire campaigns in modern history are distilled into a few paragraphs, even I the perspective is always a very narrow unit level one. I have no real complaints about this - if you want serious historical research or day by day accounts of the say, the Siege of Leningrad, there is plenty of material a available. The narrative that is here provides useful colour and background. What sets Kagero apart from their competitors is the addition of decals with pretty much all of their books in this field. There are decals for four aircraft, in all three main scales of 1/32, 1/48 and 1/72. The subjects covered are: Messerschmitt Bf109 G-2 'Blue 5' 7./JG 54 Isotscha airfield, Smolensk, Winter 1942-43 Complete winter whitewash, heavy exhaust staining; undercarriage gear covers removed. Focke-Wulf Fw190 A-5 W.Nr.1501 'White 4' 1./JG 54 Flown by JG54's most famous son, Walter Nowotny, Russia Summer 1943 White bull outline drawing and inscription "Rammbock" under canopy on port side. Bucker Bu131 D-2 W.Nr.1683 KG+GB 2./JG 54 Krasnogvardeysk airfield, Russia March 1942 RLM70/71/65 with wavy winter whitewash; "Lili Marlen" inscription on port fuselage, kill bars on port rudder (unit score, not pilot or aircraft) Messerschmitt Bf109 F-2 'White 9' 4./JG 54 Mal. Owsischtischi 10th August 1941 Pilot Oblt. Hans Philipp, Staffelkapitan; standard RLM74/75/76 but with RLM70 lines on fuselage, with patches of RLM75 within. What can we say about the aircraft choices? Well, any book covering JG54 will be spoilt for choice with some of the most colourful Bf109s and Fw190s you could wish for. That also makes the subjects to pick out of the bunch a little more difficult perhaps? That one of Novotny's aircraft has been chosen is no surprise, and I like that we have close up pictures of the man himself with the Rammbock logo in clear view. The aircraft also gets a full four view profile so, although you have to source your own national markings, you're pretty much there and won't want for anything else. The whitewashed 109 only has a two side profiles, but since it is depicted in a full winter scheme, I'm not sure the lack of top / bottom views are that great a loss. Similarly, the 'crazy paving' schemes are well documented, and Hans Philip is a relatively well known pilot. The choice of the Bucker is perplexing: most casual modellers will have not even heard of this aircraft, let alone know what it looks like; but the main point is a lack of injection mould kit in ANY of the scales that decals are provided for. This is a bit of a misguided attempt to 'be different' and a waste of one of only four options. Two final comments on the decal side of things. One, Novotny's bird aside, the featured aircraft are not shown in any of the many photos in the book. I would much prefer to have photographic confirmation of what I am modelling - so why not show these pictures, or chose different but similar subjects? Two, there is no detailed commentary on the features of each bird, as provided by EagleCals. I mention them because they are the industry benchmark in WWII decals. Conclusion So what we have here is an interesting and I think very effective combination of elements of a regular decal set, together with a 'Unit History lite' (I hope I'll be forgiven for the American terminology here, but it seems particularly appropriate). If you could put an Osprey Aircraft of the Aces book and an EagleCals deca sheet in the blender, this is probably what you would get. Price also needs to be mentioned here: I think it's a fairly good value proposition. No real complaints apart from the odd choice of the Bucker. Looking forward to more of this series! Highly recommended With thanks to Kagero for the review sample.
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