Messerschmitt Bf 109...



...The Early Years - Poland, The Fall of France and the Battle of Britain, in the Air War Archive series from Pen and Sword


Title: Messerschmitt Bf 109, The Early Years - Poland, the Fall of France, and the Battle of Britain

Author: Chris Goss

Publisher: Pen and Sword Books

ISBN: 978-1-84832-479-4

A recent addition to the Air War Archive series, and a very similar format to Pen and Sword's Images of War books.  This time the subject is one of the most famous fighter aircraft of the war, the Me Bf 109.  The 109 was produced in greater numbers than any other fighter, remained in production throughout the war and recorded more aerial kills than any other aircraft.  This book focusses on the early variants and their associated campaigns.

It all starts with the prototypes, and it might still surprise some that the first prototypes were designed with a Rolls Royce Kestrel engine, though that was soon changed to a Junker Jumo 210 and later with Dimler Benz engines.  After three pages of introductory background text the heart of the book lies in a collection of fascinating archive photos, each with more information captured within their detailed captions.  The photo collection is split into 5 chapters, starting with The Pre-War Period, then The 'Sitzkrieg' or Phoney War, The Battle for France, The Battle of Britain and finally, After the Battle.

The first chapter includes pictures of the early two-bladed propeller variants, including some sent to Spain in early 1939 for use in the Spanish Civil War.  This moves on as we see some nice detail images showing the aircraft as well as particular markings and the aircrew and their uniforms.  One of two are also seen crashed.  The Battle for France quickly merges into the Battle of Britain, which makes the largest section in the book.  As well as details of the aircraft, the markings and the pilots which will be interesting to historians and modellers alike, there are a number of particularly interesting airfield shots which will give some inspiration for model dioramas.

These include not only during servicing, with exposed engines, but also dispersals with aircraft hidden beneath camouflage netting while deployed on open airfields.

The detail seen in many photos are a modellers delight, and you can get to see the gradual developments incorporated in the aircraft as time moved on.  Captions are helpful and informative, and the various scenes, with airframes both intact, in flight, undergoing maintenance or in some cases, crashed following being shot down will be a boon to modellers as well as the aircraft historian who is interested in the story of the 109.