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BOOK REVIEW: French Bombers of WWII: White Series

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Monday, August 26, 2019

BOOK REVIEW: French Bombers of WWII: White Series

by Jose Fernandez and Patrick Laureau

To call this a 'specification' book does Fernandez and Laureau an injustice. To call it a 'camouflage and markings' book doubles that injustice. To call it an 'air combat' book triples that injustice. French Bombers of WWII combines all three of these into a single, well-written volume on a subject most WWII histories skip over.

The 26 bombers each gets full descriptions of design and development, prototypes, modifications, specs, and WWII service. Each garners a plethora of black and white photos and color camouflage profiles. How many in total? 334 photos (handful in color), 132 profiles, 72 scale drawings (most at a little less than 1cm = 1m, others at a little more than 1cm = 1m, and some at 1.5cm = 1m -- seems like the drawings were expanded or shrunk to fit the page instead kept at the same scale), and a handful of other black and white illustrations. Most photos are in French patterns, but some are shown with German and Italian markings, and even a few in Finnish, Romanian, and Spanish Civil War markings. I may have missed one or two in my count, but you get the idea.

Better yet, some of the photos are paired with profiles so you see the aircraft in black and white and then in color.

This also includes French purchases of imported bombers such as Glenn Martin 167F and Douglas DB-7, bomber training aircraft, and a couple prototypes only. After the armistice, many ended up in German and Italian hands and service. Others were flown to Africa. There's a full Order of Battle by squadron for May 10, 1940 and June 4, 1940 for those with campaign ideas.

Of news to me is the SNCAC NC 223 nicknamed the Jules Verne that took off from Bordeaux on June 6, 1940, flew along the coast, across Denmark, into the Baltic Sea, and then angled back to bomb Berlin with eight 250kg bombs, 80 10kg incendiary bomblets, and the shoes of flight engineer Corneillet (lost in the moment, he tossed them out when they ran out of bombs). They angled back across Germany to land at Paris. That's a 13.5 hour flight (p116).

The French had their own gull-winged dive-bombing attack aircraft, the Loire-Nieuport LN.411, built for the Navy and intended for the trio of French aircraft carriers (Joffre and Painleve on paper only -- p282). The Germans captured 12 and the Italians captured 15 of the 411s, however, all but two of the Italian aircraft were scrapped due to lack of spare parts (p190).

The Germans weren't particularly known four-engine bombers, with the HE-177 (two engines back to back in each wing) and the pressed into service FW-200. However, they also had a captured French Bloch MB 162 prototype bomber in service with I/KG 200. It's fate is unknown (p275).

There's more information, always interesting and often surprising, about French bombers and actions, throughout this book. Indeed, modelers will revel in the profiles, but buffs of obscure air actions will enjoy the text as much as the photos and profiles.

Enjoyed it.

Tags:  Air  WW2  WWII 

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BOOK REVIEW: Gloster Gladiator: Mk I and II (And Sea Gladiators) - Monographs # 65 (3rd edition)

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Monday, August 26, 2019

BOOK REVIEW: Gloster Gladiator: Mk I and II (And Sea Gladiators) - Monographs # 65 (3rd edition)

by Adam Cotton and Marek Rys.

The first 96 pages of this 216-page examination of the Gloster Gladiator biplane consists of a detailed history, including extensive air battles with Italian and German aircraft that would make a considerable number of tabletop scenarios. Inserted within the history portion are 119 black and white photos. After the text comes 155 3D drawings of various systems and subsystems, 22 3D 'walkaround' drawings of the aircraft, and 18 color profiles showing camouflage patterns and markings (including in other countries' service than UK).

The most famous Gloster Gladiators were nicknamed Faith (aircraft N5520), Hope (N5519), and Charity (N5531), the story being they were the only three Gladiators to defend Malta against all comers. The reality is somewhat different, with a fourth plane nicknamed Desperation (N5522) that was used for spare parts and quite a number of non-nicknamed, or at least non-famous nicknamed, Gladiators (including Sea Gladiators) that defended the island just as zealously. Incidentally, Faith was rescued in 1943 and partially restored (p60), although what happened to it after that is not mentioned.

If you're interested in Gloster Gladiators, and especially if one or more are on your painting table, here's your book. Enjoyed it.

Tags:  Air  WW2  WWII 

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BOOK REVIEWS: Flyby of Six Aircraft Books

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Monday, August 12, 2019

BOOK REVIEWS: Flyby of Six Aircraft Books

I should note that I was in the right place and right time to scarf up the following used WWII aircraft books for $1 each. Of interest was performing some spot comparisons of specifications in each book for a couple of the same aircraft. Just about everything was identical, but each book added, subtracted, or refined different specs. Just shows it's good to cross reference several sources when you're researching specifications. Most of them offered great painting references.

German War Birds: From World War 1 to NATO Ally

by K Munson. An older book (1986) with 113 aircraft profiles -- 58 WWI, 51 interwar/WWII, and four 1960s-1970s-era NATO -- each with specifications, history/anecdotes, and multiple marvelous sideview and top/bottom color illustrations. Top/Bottom meant that half the airplane is seen from the top down and the other half from the bottom up. The history and anecdotes were interesting; especially for WWI aircraft I never knew existed. Enjoyed it.

The Pocket Encyclopedia of Bombers at War

by Kenneth Munson. Compiled from two Munson books, it contained 150 pages of full color illustrations covering 147 different bombers of WWI and WWII. Short development history plus specs with great color illustrations (side plus top/bottom) plus additional details inserted in the text. Enjoyed it.

World War II Airplanes: Volume 1 (Rand McNally)

by Enzo Angelucci and Paolo Matricardi. This 1976 book covers European aircraft. Presumably Volume 2 covers US, USSR, Japan, and other countries. Digest sized, with fantastic full-color 3/4 illustrations and specifications of each major combat aircraft: 45 UK, 44 German, 34 Italian, 19 French, 3 Czech, 4 Netherlands, 3 Polish, 2 Swedish, 2 Yugoslavian, 1 Romanian, 1 Belgian, and 1 Finnish. Included foreign-made aircraft in service to the above countries, short section on camouflage patterns, and short, illustrated sections on engines. Short histories of the aircraft proved interesting enough. Enjoyed it.

British Aircraft of World War II

by David Mondey. This 1994 (originally published in 1982) book provided information and specifications on 113 UK aircraft. Provided 86 diagrams, 204 magnificent color illustrations (side, top, and front), and 126 photos. Short histories of aircraft included anecdotes of note. Enjoyed it.

British Aircraft of World War II

by John Frayn Turner. A 1976 book. No drawings, but plenty of photographs, including a central section with color photos. Covered 49 aircraft, many with variations, and including US models flown by the RAF, with short histories, specifications, and a number of Victoria Cross anecdotes. Last section contained 13 more extensive write-ups of various missions, including dam busters, sink the Bismarck, and so on. Hit or miss at times, but generally enjoyed it.

Brassey's Air Combat Reader: Historic Feats and Aviation Legends

edited by Walter J. Boyne and Philip Handleman. Offered 28 recaps of fighter, bomber, and rescue missions from WWI through Gulf War. Usual bell curve mix of good, bad, and ugly ranging from great writing to skipping to the next chapter.

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Tags:  Air  reviews  WW2  WWII 

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BOOK REVIEW: B-29 Combat Missions: First-Hand Accounts of Superfortress Operations Over the Pacific and Korea

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Thursday, June 13, 2019

by Donald Nijboer and Steve Pace.

A better gift than I first thought when looking at the cover. Takes you position by position through a B-29, punctuated by first-person anecdotes -- mostly benign, some tragic, and some laugh-out-loud funny. Lots of period and contemporary photos, pages of manuals, and other period graphics.

Moral: Don't judge a discount bin book by its cover. Enjoyed it.

Tags:  Air  WW2  WWII 

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Book Review: South African Air Force Fighter Colors: Volume 1 - East African Campaign 1940-1942

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Monday, May 13, 2019

by Piet van Schalkwyk and William Marshall.

History of six South African squadrons in WWII using leftovers of aviation history except for a few Hurricanes. Lots of biplane actions against Italian CR.42s would make for interesting dogfighting scenarios. Repetitious text as if transcribed from squadron reports, but info contained is golden for an obscure, at least to me, front.

Includes 139 black and white photos and 23 color illustrations of various British aircraft -- great resource for modelers.

Tags:  Air  Modeling  WW2  WWII 

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Book Review: Wade McClusky and the Battle of Midway

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Monday, May 13, 2019

by David Rigby. Air Group Commander McClusky led the US dive bombers that sunk two of the four Japanese aircraft carriers at the Battle of Midway. Apparently, modern historians re-examining history claimed he 'guessed' right when he had to decide whether to turn south or north when looking for the Japanese fleet. Also apparently, he's come under some criticism for concentrating on sinking only two of the four Japanese carriers instead of trying to sink them all.

This book repudiates both those contentions with a minute-by-minute analysis that also steps us through US Navy doctrine and McClusky's own extensive experience flying just about every aircraft the Navy fielded. In many ways, it's an academic pursuit of minutiae, and sometimes reads that way, but I admired the research that went into this 372-page book -- especially the consideration and analysis of variables and sometimes conflicting reports and recollections.

As for the 'guess' of north or south, the book contains a quote from McClusky to the effect that he would have heard about any Japanese ships south of him, which made turning north the only logical option. I suppose he could have continued west, but he was facing fuel constraints. O

f wargaming note, McClusky was hired by Avalon Hill as a paid consultant for their 1960s game Midway, which he played with his son. He also played the AH game Bismarck, although he apparently complained that his son would ahistorically 'hide' the German ship in the English channel. Enjoyed it.

Tags:  Air  WW2  WWII 

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Book Review: Air Combat: Dogfights of World War II

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Monday, May 13, 2019

Edited by Tony Holmes. I thought this was going to be yet another first-person account compilation, but I was pleasantly surprised to discover this is essentially an edited compilation of four Osprey Duel books: Spitfire II/V vs Bf 109F; F4F Wildcat vs A6M Zero; La-5/7 vs. Fw-190; and F4U Corsair vs. Ki-84 'Frank.'

Each pairing gets aircraft development, flight and weapon analysis, pilot training and experience, and overview of the air campaigns that pitted the aircraft against each other. It's all illustrated in that Osprey way with period photographs, charts, and occasional color illustrations.

This contains few first-person accounts, but does weave pilot experiences through the narrative to highlight particular idiosyncrasies of the aircraft and dogfights. Enjoyed it.

Tags:  Air  WW2  WWII 

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