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Luftwaffe Fighter Aircraft - Profile Book No1


nmayhew
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Luftwaffe Fighter Aircraft


Profile Book No1
Claes Sundin
Available from Luftwaffe in Profile for 40Euros

 

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This is the first of a series of profile books by Claes Sundin, and as suggested, covers Luftwaffe fighters in WWII. The concept of a 'profiles only' book is relatively unusual, but not unknown. I have in the past reviewed some of the "Planes and Pilots" series, but generally profiles tend to be thrown into the mix of unit or campaign histories, or with decals, rather than as the sole content of the book. Without getting too ahead of ourselves, it is worth noting that this is just the first of five such profile books, to be released over the next year and half according to the blurb at the end of the book. There will be another volume of German fighters, one on Allied fighters, German bombers and ground attack, and finally on covering Axis (ex-Germany) aircraft.

 

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Mr Sundin is one of the more well-known profile artists out there, and in the foreword he lays out his credentials so as to speak: not of his artwork per se - even the quickest glance will show they are stunning - but of the references used to it. I mention this because for the most part I am rather skeptical of most profiles I come across. Why? Because once researched, one very often finds mistakes in either the depiction or the annotation; and if I can find these errors after half an hour's research on the internet, I am left with the sinking feeling that beyond being a pretty picture, they are pretty worthless in terms of historical accuracy or as a basis for a modelling project. So it was with pleasure that I read Mr Sundin firstly acknowledge this, and secondly reassure us that his profiles are all based on at least one solid reference photo, and usually many more than that.

 

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Before the profiles, there is a three page section Luftwaffe camouflage, from pre-War all the way through to 1945, and how the colours used varied both by theatre as well as time frame. This is accompanied by a colour chart with relevant RLM labels, as well as some of the variations used. We then have the "Making of a Profile" where we see the various steps from nondescript airframe through to the finished article. This looks cool, but beyond that I'm not really sure of the significance - perhaps other digital artists will understand?

 

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On to the profiles themselves: there are 124 of them, and they are all single-sided, mostly of the port side, unless a key feature or marking is to starboard I guess. Sometimes close-ups of unit insignia or personal markings are shown, but when they are and are not depicted appears to be a bit random. The vast majority of the subjects are Bf109s and Fw190s; there are a fair number of Bf110s, a few Me262s and the odd Ju88. The single engined fighters fill the page nicely, and pretty much every detail can be seen; obviously slightly less so for the larger aircraft.

 

The format for the notes / description is simple. The title comprises profile number and aircraft type, which includes variant eg Bf 109 E-4, but sub-type is only rarely given ie Bf 109 G-6 / R-4 etc. Underneath this we typically have pilot, where known; unit, in the form of Gruppe and Geschwader; location and date, which sometimes is very specific eg airfield and precise day, but at others understandably vague. It is disappointing that the Werk Nummer (WNr) is not given where known, especially as some of them appear on the profiles.

 

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Whilst what is presented is very good, I will be picky and point out things that could have been included or that I would in an ideal world like to see. Firstly, the visual aesthetics: the artwork is undeniably excellent, and on a par with or better than I have seen anywhere else; but, because the profiles are large (c25cm in length), if you look closely at certain colours you can see 'pixels' for want of the technical term, and fuselage silhouettes are not perfectly clear cut. Mr Sundin says all his profiles are available in super size (up to 1m in length) - if so, a considerably sharper image will be required. Perhaps this is because of risk of unauthorised copying?

 

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In terms of information provided, I would liked to have seen a small commentary on particulars - where known - of each aircraft, especially where custom or one-off changes have been made. An example of this would be Hermann Graf's 109 G-6 looks to have a small bubble / bulge in the top of his canopy - explanation definitely required! The other thing I would have liked is a statement of colours used in each camouflage, and perhaps a note as to what the upper surfaces looked like. I know that a colour chart is provided, but to continually have to flip backwards and forwards, as well as allowing for weathering and fading is unreasonable in my opinion. Neither of these are the end of the world, but they would go a long way to making a good book an excellent one.

 

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I have not to any great degree researched or validated the profiles, as time simply does not permit, but a number do catch the eye or are of rather well-known airframes. Adolf Galland's well known WNr 5819 is shown as of September 24th 1940 without the trademark telescopic 'sight' (used for target identification rather than aiming per se), and also with the hollow spinner (the cannon firing through the hub was never fitted in these Emils). All I can say is that current research that I have read shows the sight fitted and a normal spinner, but with slightly more rounded rather than ultra pointed tip. Similarly, Hans-Joachim Marseille's WNr 8693 is shown without tail stiffeners and with curved headrest armour, when I believe Beaman and Kitchens shows stiffeners present, curved armour absent. I have picked these two because they are obvious 'targets' but once again I feel that I don't trust profiles, certainly not enough to base an expensive modelling project on.

 

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Conclusion
Visually very appealing and certainly a source of inspiration. Whether the profiles can also be used as a source of technical information is debatable. As such my recommendation comes with the caveat that I apply to all profiles and profile artists with the odd notable exception: check your references and don't 'build blind' from profiles if you are at all concerned about getting the details right.

 

Recommended

 

Nick Mayhew

 

Our sincere thanks to Claes Sundin for the review sample. To buy direct, click THIS link.

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Cracking review Nick my dad has both his previous Luftwaffe Profile books and they provide tonnes of inspiration. I actually contacted Claes about a subject in his older book and he was very helpful and told me an updated profile of it is in this new one. He even sent me a very rare photo he had to back it up! Now that's service !

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Hi Nick

 

Good honest review as usual. he did a series with Christer Bergstron (what Benjamin is referring to above) they are nice, but actually include details and photos of the aircraft depicted.  Called Luftwaffe Aircraft in Profile Vols 1 & 2 (as Mike mentions below)

 

The small blister on the top of Graf's G-6 is where a small rear view mirror was fitted.  This was considered as a standard mod by Messerschmitt but wasn't taken up (probably due to combination of Galland Panzer (glass rear 'armour') and the Erla Haube clear vision canopy becoming available...

 

Matt

 

Edited to correct ref.

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Nick, are the profiles just a re-hash of "Luftwaffe Fighter Aircraft in Profile" Vol. 1 & 2? (Assuming you have these to make a comparison)

Er, I don't have them to make that comparison I am afraid...

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Er, I don't have them to make that comparison I am afraid...

My dad has them, it seems he's revisited the popular aircraft like Gallands, Grafs, Marseilles etc so if u have his first two there might not be enough new to justify buying it. The twin engine stuff is new to me tho. Think ill be investing in it.

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