The recent publication of Wings Of The Black Cross Vol. 4 gives a perfect opportunity to look back over the series as a whole. Wings Of The Black Cross is a set of photo albums covering WW2 Luftwaffe subjects.
Each volume follows an identical format; they are are softbound, with 36 pages printed on 8.5" X 11" heavyweight paper. The contents consist of 32 pages of black & white photos, 4 pages of very high quality colour profiles and a rear cover sporting a pair of original colour photos. As you'd expect, given Eagle Editions' reputation, the printing throughout is excellent and particular attention has been paid to bringing out the maximum tonal values of the vintage photos.
The number of photos per page varies from 2 to 3 and each is accompanied by a detailed caption that highlights points of interest - especially the camouflage variations apparent in many of the photos. The quality of the original photos obviously varies, because these are largely drawn from private collections - and the really exciting thing is just how few of them have appeared elsewhere. There's no particular "theme", as such, and each volume has a wide variety of subjects - ranging from snapshots taken by German personnel of aircraft in service, through to pictures of wrecked or captured machines taken by Allied troops. In the latter category, the aircraft was often the incidental backdrop for a picture intended for "the folks back home", but 60-odd years later the supporting extra is now the star and the clarity of some of the quite minor details revealed makes them a real boon for modellers.
The authors Jerry Crandall and Mark Proulx have grouped photos of the same particular aircraft together where possible, giving an often unique opportunity to view the subject from a number of angles, often taken by different cameramen at slightly different times. This not only reveals how aircraft at the end of the war fell prey to souvenir hunters but, importantly, illustrates the difficulty in assessing colours from B&W photos, as the appearance can vary quite noticeably depending on the film stock used and the lighting conditions.
Backing up the B&W photos are some superb colour plates by Thomas A. Tullis and Terry Higgins of the aircraft featured. The extensive captions give full details of the camouflage and markings and point out where the interpretation is speculative. Some may think it's a pity that no plan-views have been included, but bear in mind that these profiles are based precisely on the photos in the books of the featured aircraft, so the artists have wisely not strayed into concocting details that can't be seen in the photos.
What particularly impresses me is the attention to detail by Eagle Editions. Whereas many publishers are content to simply "publish and move on", here each successive volume begins with a short addendum and errata section, which adds corrections based on extra information that has come to light since the original publication. This ongoing process helps ensure the series stays as up to date and accurate as possible and I suppose the only way Eagle Editions could improve it still further would be to print the addenda in the form of replacement captions that could be cut out and inserted or pasted into the earlier volumes. In the most extreme case of revision, a complete new colour profile of a Bf 109 has been commissioned based on fresh research that indicated the aircraft's unit had been misidentified originally. Such dedication to accuracy is typical of Eagle Editions and runs throughout their ranges of books and aftermarket decals and resin parts.
Volume #1 - by Jerry Crandall - ISBN 0-9721060-3-0 Price: $15.95
Volume #2 - by Jerry Crandall - ISBN 0-9721060-9-X Price: $17.95
Volume #3 - by Mark Proulx - ISBN 0-9761034-9-4 Price: $17.95
Volume #4 - by Mark Proulx - ISBN 978-0-9794035-0-7 Price $17.95
Contact detailsEagle Editions
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