Messerschmitt Bf 109...
...The Latter Years - War in the East to the Fall of Germany, from Pen and Sword
Title: Messerschmitt Bf 109
Author: Chris Goss
Publisher: Frontline Books
A second book in this series to take on the subject of the Me Bf109, picking up the story after the Battle of Britain, on to the end of the war. It opens with the story of the first capture of an intact Messerschmitt Bf 109F. Piloted by Rolf Peter Pingel, who force landed at St Margaret's Bay, Dover. No battle damage was found, so it appears a technical fault caused the aircraft to fail. It was recovered and returned to flying condition but later lost to an accident in Cambridgeshire, killing the pilot.
Then the book gets into the main chapters, showing the aircraft in use in 1941; 1942; 1943; 1944-45; as a Jabo; The Mediterranean & North Africa; The Eastern Front; in Foreign hands and finally Captured examples. The photos throughout the book are very well captioned, with lots of detail about what and who you see in the pictures. One of the things that struck me were the smiles you see on many of the faces of your men who are clearly proud to pose with their aircraft, very similar to pictures of allied fighter pilots as well of course. The level of research that has gone into this collection of images shines through with these detailed captions rather than simply being a collection of photos. We see the aircraft in flight, under maintenance and in some crew posed pictures plus a number that show crashed or otherwise wrecked aircraft in dumps on airfields in North Africa, on the Eastern Front, and in Germany at the end of the war. I have often wondered how it must have felt after years of fighting for allied troops walk in and find the mass of derelict airframes at the end of the war. The final section shows examples in both RAF and US markings where captured examples were test flown for evaluation.
Aviation historians will enjoy the photo selection and I suspect some re-enactors will enjoy the uniform detail we see at different stages during the war. On top of all that the aircraft modeller will like it in particular, for the variety of camouflage and marking schemes we see, and the detail on some of the airframes. There are also plenty of ideas for dioramas if you use some of the excellent Me109 kits that on the market these days. Another fine addition to the Air War Archive series from Chris Goss and Frontline Books.
Thanks to Pen and Sword for this review copy.