In the Skies of France-|
A chronicle of JG2 "Richthofen"
Volume 1: 1934-1940
|by Erik Mombeek and Jean-Louis Roba with Chris Gross|
|Reviewed By Floyd S. Werner, Jr., IPMS# 26266|
There were primarily two fighter units serving in France throughout the Western Campaign, JG2 and JG26. There has been plenty written on JG-26 which has always been associated with Adolph Galland. Not as much has been written about JG2 "Richthofen", in fact, if your library is like mine there is a considerable hole when it comes to JG2.
Eric Mombeeck and Jean-Louis Roba have done something about this hole. These two noted Luftwaffe historians have combined their resources and have produced an excellent record of this distinguished unit. Printed on high quality paper this hard bound book contains 316 pages of text, photos, drawings and lists. Originally in French, this English version has been translated by Neil Page which for me adds a great value from the historical perspective. I can actually read it.
The text is laid down chronologically but don't let that be construed as this is like reading a calendar. Quite the opposite. This is just not only the basic facts and nothing but the facts, this book has numerous anecdotes and stories from the people who were there. The text is well written and an easy read. I did not detect any problems with the translation. I really enjoyed the information and stories. This book covers the pre-war period, including the Spanish Civil War, until the end of the Battle of Britain.
The 461 photos are exceptional in quality and quantity. It sounds so clique' but most of these photos have never been published before. The authors have canvassed their massive photo collections for some unique pictures. The aircraft covered are the He-51, Ar-68, He-112, and various versions of the Bf-109. There is something here for everybody. The size of the pictures is typically half a page and full of informational value that the modeler and historian can glean from them. One of the nicest things with the chronological layout is that you see the change in markings and camouflage throughout the period.
The personnel are a vital part of any military organization and JG2 is no different. You will meet people like Wolfgang Falck, father of the night fighter force, Siegfried Schnell, Major Helmet Wick, Assi Hahn and Dr. Erich Mix to name a few. Despite the heavy losses of World War II, the authors have contacted around 100 survivors for their stories and photos which impart a personal account of life in the Luftwaffe and adds to the readability of the text.
There is an appendix of 16 color drawings done by noted aviation artists Tom Tullis and Thierry Decker. The quality of these drawings will be appreciated by the modeler who will be motivated to replicate them in three dimensional form. It is interesting to see the changes in camouflage from the pre-war grey to the Battle of Britain colors.
Many will ask, is this book worth the money? I'd have to say unequivocally, yes. The amount of photos, especially the new ones, the drawings, the easy to read text and the first person accounts makes this book ideal for the modeler and historian. I, for one, can not wait for the next installment in the JG2 history. Congratulations to the authors for finally bringing the unit history to life and doing it so well.
I hope that the English version of this book is successful so that the authors other works are translated and printed in English. If you can't wait for that there are other books on JG2-1941 and JG-5, with another book coming out on JG26 later this year in German. It should be noted that the English version is a limited edition so order yours now.
Thanks to Eric Mombeek for the review copy. Please tell him you heard about it at IPMS/USA.
You can obtain your copy by contacting the authors at http://www.luftwaffe.be/ or through various book retailers.