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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: Fighting in Hell: The German Ordeal on World War II's Eastern Front

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Friday, May 3, 2019
edited by Peter G Tsouras. A trio of WWII German generals (Rauss, von Greiffenberg, and Erfurth) explain in post-war debriefs how the Germans fought the Soviets. This edited reprint of US Army historical publications explains strategy, tactics, tendencies, and techniques on the Eastern Front, including how the Soviets became smarter as the war went on. One meme throughout is how overwhelming Soviet quantity of men and material kept the Germans from victory until smarter use of such quantity led to Soviet victories. Enjoyed it.

Tags:  Eastern Front  reviews  WW2  WWII 

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Book Review: Tanks Illustrated # 19: US Tank Destroyers of World War II

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Friday, May 3, 2019
by Steven J Zaloga. This 64-page book contains two or three photos per page with short captions tracing various models of US Tank Destroyers, predominantly the M-10. Captions tell date of photo and the TD in it, but otherwise are almost entirely devoid of data. For modelers, however, photos can be helpful showing what crews carried on the vehicles.

Tags:  reviews  Tanks  WW2  WWII 

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Book Review: Bridgebuilding Equipment of the Wehrmacht: 1939-1945

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Friday, May 3, 2019
by Horst Beiersdorf. Translated by Ed Force. Another 48-page booklet full of photos and extended captions. Like the other booklets, suffers from a lack of detail about deployments and operations, with almost nothing about how long it took to build a pontoon bridge, what a 4-ton, 8-ton, and 16-ton bridge could hold, and other quantitative data. Even at half-price, fairly useless for information and wargaming purposes. Modelers might get some use out of it.

Tags:  reviews  WW2  WWII 

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Book Review: German Heavy Field Artillery: 1934-1945

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Friday, May 3, 2019
by Joachim Engelmann. Translated by David Johnston. A 48-page booklet full of photos and extended captions about 150mm German artillery. Like the above, generally OK with but the photocopied German specs, etc. Again, would have wanted more about the actual deployment and use of batteries. Found at half-price, so generally OK.

Tags:  reviews  WW2  WWII 

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Book Review: German Light Field Artillery: 1935-1945

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Friday, May 3, 2019
by Joachim Engelmann. Translated by David Johnston. A 48-page booklet full of photos and captions about 105mm German artillery. Generally OK, but the photocopied specs are all in German, limiting its usefulness to us English readers without some sort of translation software. Would have wanted more about the actual deployment and use of batteries. Found at half-price, so generally OK.

Tags:  reviews  WW2  WWII 

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Book Review: The Battle for Okinawa: A Japanese Officer's Eyewitness Account of the Last Great Campaign of World War II,

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Friday, May 3, 2019
by Colonel Hiromichi Yahara. Originally published in Japan in 1972, this 1995 translation offers a Japanese view of the battle from the Operations officer of the 32nd Army that defended Okinawa. His carefully crafted attrition defense plan among the craggy terrain went awry when HQ in Tokyo stripped troops for the Philippines, US submarines torpedoes reinforcements, and worst of all from Yahara's perspective, HQ ordered all out attacks into the teeth of US firepower that decimated the Japanese units. US casualties were 40,000 on land, 10,000 at sea, and another 26,000 non-battle casualties (disease, combat fatigue, etc.). Although the ultimate outcome was not in doubt, the loss of roughly 7500 trained combat troops in such fruitless attacks out of the motley mix of 65,000 troops would have added to the US casualty count. Enjoyed it.

Tags:  reviews  WW2  WWII 

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Book Review: Pursuit: The Chase and Sinking of the Battleship Bismarck

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Friday, May 3, 2019
by Ludovic Kennedy. This 1974 book also ignores Ultra, but reads almost like a thriller. It points out miscalculations and mistakes on both sides as the Bismarck came oh so close to slipping away, courtesy of missed signals, clever maneuvers, and that 'one in 100,000' chance torpedo hit that jammed the rudder at 15 degrees. Of some amusement: the Bismarck's opening salvo against the cruiser HMS Norfolk blew out Bismarck's own forward radar -- you'd think that someone in German engineering would have tested that in the initial sea trials. Enjoyed it.

Tags:  Naval  reviews  warships  WW2  WWII 

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Book Review: The Naval War Against Hitler

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Friday, May 3, 2019
by Donald MacIntyre. Reading this 1971 book just after reading the Ultra at Sea book, I was amazed that MacIntyre never mentioned Ultra. This may be because the book predated the release of Ultra archives. Still, it contains a nice overview of British naval strategy punctuated by tactical actions against the Axis (Italians in the Mediterranean Sea included), with all the high profile battles dissected: Bismarck, Narvik, U-Boat war (bulk of book), PQ-17 and Arctic convoys, Operation Pedestal, Scharnhorst, Axis efforts against Allied convoys in the Mediterranean Sea, and Allied efforts against Axis convoys in the Mediterranean Sea. Enjoyed it, albeit with an Ultra caveat.

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Tags:  Naval  reviews  warships  WW2  WWII 

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Book Review: Ultra at Sea: How Breaking the Nazi Code Affected Allied Naval Strategy During World War II

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Friday, May 3, 2019
by John Winton. Although the prose often plods along like a cargo ship chugging across the Atlantic at 6 knots, the information within is like a tanker full of aviation gas reaching Malta. German disbelief that anyone could break the Enigma code helped Britain maintain a constant stream of intercepted and deciphered German naval information -- put to good use in avoiding U-Boat wolfpacks, picking off weather ships, and tracking naval movements. Of real interest is the chapter on how sloppy Allied habits with Ultra information probably should have tipped the Germans off that their codes had been broken, but the Germans discounted that the allies could break their 'unbreakable' code. Enjoyed it.

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Tags:  Naval  reviews  warships  WW2 

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