Heinkel He 177 Units of World War 2...

... from Osprey Publishing

Title: Heinkel He 177 Units of World War

Author: Robert Forsyth

Publisher: Osprey

ISBN: 978-1-4728-2039-6

Number 123 in their Combat Aircraft series from Osprey Publishing covers another interesting subject.  It instantly brought back memories of my childhood and when I built the old Airfix kit of the Heinkel He 177.  I knew very little about it in those days and even now it is not really one I would list in their most famous bombers.  The backbone of the Luftwaffe bomber fleet was the Heinkel He III, and -over the years there has been a good deal of conjecture over why the Luftwaffe failed to develop a four-engine strategic bomber.  One partly successful attempt was the Heinkel He 177, which coupled two engines to one propeller, an arrangement that was troublesome throughout it's service career.

The book splits over 6 chapters and starts with the Heinkel 'Bomber A', an interesting design test-bed of the late 1930s and a fine photo showing the unusual design in a seaplane configuration.  This had 2 engines coupled to a single shaft, driving a propeller in the nose, with the drive shaft running through the centre of the glazed nose cockpit.  It was in November 1939 that the prototype He 177 first flew, and chapter 2, 'Testing Times' gives us the development story, along with more archive photos.  This moves on to the 'Service Debut' in chapter 4 and within this section we get 7 pages of excellent colour profiles showing the 177 with a variety of units and colour schemes that modellers will like.  Chapter 5 looks at it's role in 'Anti-Shipping Operations', a role it is well known for, along with the HS.293 glide bomb, which it did use operationally.  The units which operated the bomber and many of their missions are described, all accompanied by archive photos.

In the later part of the war, the He 177 was given the task of 'Bombing Britain' and this is well explained, though clearly a case of too little too late to really have any great impact.  The final chapter 6 is entitle 'Last Gasps', which is an ideal description for the final missions for the He 177 units in the closing stages of the war.  Everything is then rounded off with an appendix that provides the individual details for each one of the colour profiles seen earlier within chapter 4.

I found the book very informative and with perhaps the best collection of archive photos of the type that I can recall seeing in such a reasonably priced book.  This should be of interest not only to historians with an interest in the Luftwaffe of WW2, but to modellers as well.

Thanks to Osprey Publishing for this review copy.

Robin