Aircraft of the Luftwaffe Fighter Aces Volume I and Volume II

Being there . . . . to comingle with Germany’s elite fighter pilots, virtually all absurdly young, but
bright, eager, lounging in the sunshine, drinking their schnapps, energetically horseplaying
before legions of admiring, winsome young women, smoking their pipes and cigars, writing
letters and reading, while waiting for yet another harsh recall bell to go fly, bomb, kill and
destroy . . . . .

After the Armistice in November, 1918, that brought fighting to end the “Great War”, the
“war to end all wars”, Germany, under harsh restrictions, was forbidden all military aircraft. A
dozen years later, Hitler’s ascendancy to absolute power released the first storm clouds of the
Second “Great War”, World War II, by designing and mass-manufacturing the Messerschmitt
Me109. By 1939 and Hitler’s invasion of Russia, the new pacesetting monoplane with two
machine guns and two cannon, a slender 550 km/h (342mph) single seater, flooded the skies of
Germany, Austria, and the Sudetenland, by the hundreds. With its raiding partner, the Me110,
designed as a long-range, night fighter, the fledgling Luftwaffe was suddenly invincible.
Germany was in preparation to obliterate Britain, the only European nation feared. Where
Germany had the Me109 and Me110, Churchill had the sturdier but slower Hawker Hurricane
and faster, more maneuverable Supermarine Spitfire. If the Fuhrer planned to invade Britain
before swiveling into the Soviet Union, he had to control the skies over the English Channel.
Poised for war, the Luftwaffe had 702 Me109s and 227 Me1105s. Air Marshall Goring set
Tuesday, 13 August 1940 as Adlertag, “Eagle Day”, as the start of the Adlerangriff, “Eagle
Attack”, that would sweep the Royal Air Force out of the British clouds and bring the Isles to
their knees.
Reviewed and highly recommended by Don DeNevi
“AIRCRAFT of the LUFTWAFFE FIGHTER ACES Volume I – – A Chronicle in Photographs”, by Bernd
Barbas. A Schiffer Military History Book: 1995, 264 pages, hc; $49.95. Visit:
www.schifferbooks.com. Contains over 600 black and white and color photographs, color
profiles, and line schemes
“AIRCRAFT of the LUFTWAFFE FIGHTER ACES Volume II – – A Chronicle in Photographs”, by
Bernd Barbas. A Schiffer Military History Book: 1995, 208 pages, hc; $49.95. Visit:
www.schifferbooks.com. Contains over 600 black and white and color photographs, color
profiles, and line schemes.
Each of these handsomely designed and produced coffee table-sized volumes is 8 ½” x 11 ½”,
employing the finest paper and strongest possible binding money can buy. The artwork, front
and back, of the two complementing dust jackets by renowned illustrator Steve Ferguson of
Colorado Springs is always exceptional. For master works such as these, the covers are alluring
and accurate. Author Barbas is profuse in his Acknowledgement page appreciation to the
almost 100 ex-Luftwaffe personnel and their relatives who made available their private
photograph collections, additional airfield locations and combat information of the JG units that
served there, especially concerning the fates of several pilots who served there, pilot photos

while resting, and stories about them since their portraits hung in the camp mess halls. Former
Kommodores of the 19 JG units presented in Volume 1, and the two dozen in Volume 2 are
especially applauded for tracking down snapshots of serious, deadly airfield activities, but more
of youthful men at play and carousing.
Assembling the photos, their rich captions of identifications, and triple-checking accuracies
required author-compiler Bernd Babas more than a decade of resolute, meticulous work. The
result of all his effort, and the resolve of countless others, is that we Americans are privy of
behind the battle scenes airfield activities. Opening Volume 1 and perusing the first few
photographs, especially of the three-man field crew loading the machine guns of the Bf 109G-
2/R6, two laughing and giggling as they look into the camera while lift the heavy belts from
their delivery encasement, while the third man is mesmerized by a black pet cat is on the
airship’s cowling retreating to the cockpit from the steel, still propellers. What is so hilarious is
the cat is in the same position as the JG motif painted on the side of the engine.
The two large photo albums are crammed with photos far more serious than jollying teenage
boys finding amusement while handling munitions for weapons of mass destruction. They are
also first-hand accounts of and accompanied with photos of the devastating effects of Allied
bombing of their airfields, young men with horrendous burns in the medical wings of airfield
hangers and housing, at mess after missions, scenes of seas of mud, aircraft stuck in layers of
snow in unbelievably freezing weather on the Eastern Front. Pilots such as famous Adolf
Galland and Erich Hartman, the world most successful fighter pilot with 352 victories, and his
beloved Bf109-G6, “Yellow 1”, are highlighted. Of course, rare photos of the JG7, the world’s
first fighter jet, and advanced Me26 jet, are presented with their pilots.

Wrote Oblt Erich Hartmann in the Foreword, “Looking back through photographs taken in those
difficult times made me realize how young and innocent we were; yet despite this, many of us
somehow managed to come through it all. But they also bring home that so many of my
contemporary airmen on both sides were not nearly so fortunate. When I look back and reflect
upon the war years, I can only hope that today’s youth will be spared the day-by-day
experiences we lived through in those times. I commend the author’s work as a valuable
enrichment to the record of aerial warfare. It is also my wish that it may contribute something
to mutual goodwill and international understanding amongst all who fly themselves or are
interested in aviation.”

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