My discounted copy of this new 'Duel' title arrived today, £9.99 - at that price these titles are worth getting. The Osprey 'preview' image from this volume depicting JG 300 pilots Loos & Dahl boring in on the 303rd BG over Bitburg, 15 Aug 44 is posted here and my 11-year old thinks its pretty decent - I have to agree this type of computer-art beats the usual dreary battle scene 'painting' in these titles even if the Fw 190's are too close together and the rear B-17 gunner wouldn't be firing a stream of tracer. Whether I can actually persuade my son to read any of the text will be another matter altogether. There seems to be rather more words here than in previous 'Duel' titles starting with a chronology that curiously ends on 2 December 1944. The themes of FW 190 as 'bomber killer' over Germany are explored and there are chapters on the design and devlopment of both types with technical specifications and cutaway artworks, before the author moves on to outline the strategic situation in the European air war. There is no chronological account - there isn't the space in this book's 80 pages for anything more than a cursory overview. I particularly liked the B-17 artwork illustrating the various fighting compartments and there are some personal accounts of coming under fire from German fighters. There is a full page colour artwork of the FW 190 cockpit and more artwork depicting the Sturm fighter closing on a bomber Pulk from astern. Photos are small and a little dark and have all been published elsewhere, which is disappointing. Bizarrely the text goes on to discuss the Sonderkommando Elbe ramming Bf 109s of April 1945. There is no detail at all on the huge bomber battles that took place over Germany during late December 1944 and early January 1945.
Some of the text I've read seems curiously to focus on Walther Dahl of JG 300 - there are several pictures of him and his Fw 190s and a full page profile. While acknowledging that his autobiography "Rammjäger" was 'colourful' the book repeats all the old chestnuts regarding his supposed 128 victories and his huge accumulation of bomber kills - for which the authors of the two volume JG 300 history quoted in this book's bibliography found little or no evidence of course. There is a full page given over to a listing of leading Luftwaffe B-17 'killers'. There are two pages devoted to a bibliography entitled 'Further Reading' which includes German-language titles that I somehow doubt will be of interest to the average Duel -series purchaser.
As for the timeline ending on 2 December as already mentioned, that has to be a typo, and should read 24 December, which was the date of IV.(Sturm)/JG3's last big success in the West. Otherwise the book itself is a very selective look at various aspects of the daylight bombing campaign focusing on training, the machines, the men. Nothing to do with the author I doubt, but this is a title assembled to fit a tightly outlined format and as such doesn't work very well at all for me.
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Highs: Superb artwork, cockpit & battle scenesLows: Low photo countVerdict: Not a reference that will help you build a decent Sturmbock or B-17, but one that might spur you to further research
About Neil Page (FalkeEins) FROM: ENGLAND - SOUTH EAST, UNITED KINGDOM
Aircraft enthusiast & 'basic modeller'. I spent my formative years on the base at RAF Marham (my dad worked Victors). I was an Air France dispatcher for 8 years on B737, A320 & F100 types. My first article for Scale Aircraft Modelling was published in March 2001 (a fifteen-page research feature on...