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JG 52 - Aces of the Eastern Front


Mikester
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JG 52 - Aces of the Eastern Front


Kagero - Units 1
by Marek J. Murawski and Arkadiusz Wróbel
Available from Kagero Publishing for €15.71

 

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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? 

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.
  •  

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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!

 

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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.

 

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