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Fw-200 Condor Vs Atlantic Convoys: 1941-43 (Duel) [Paperback]

Robert Forczyk , Ian Palmer
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

10 Mar 2010 Duel (Book 25)
After the fall of France in 1940, Germany attempted to strangle Britain into submission by attacking the Atlantic Convoys, which brought much need supplies and war material from the USA and Canada. While the U-boats attacked from beneath the seas, the Germans modified a civilian airliner to create the Fw-200 Condor to attack from the skies. By the summer of 1941, the Condor attacks had succeeded to the extent that Winston Churchill called them 'the scourge of the Atlantic'. This book discusses the development of the Condor, and analyzes the various Allied responses, including the development of the Hurricat, a modified hurricane that could be launched via catapult from modified merchant ships.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 80 pages
  • Publisher: Osprey Publishing (10 Mar 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846039177
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846039171
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 18.5 x 24.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 463,345 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Aviation and World War II buffs should enjoy this latest Osprey release, which will prove particularly valuable to scholars of the Battle of the Atlantic." -Robert Guttman, "Aviation History" (September 2010)

About the Author

Robert Forczyk has a PhD in International Relations and National Security from the University of Maryland and a strong background in European and Asian military history. He retired as a lieutenant-colonel from the US Army Reserves having served 18 years as an armour officer in the US 2nd and 4th infantry divisions and as an intelligence officer in the 29th Infantry Division (Light). Dr Forczyk is currently a consultant in the Washington, DC, area. The author lives in Washington, DC.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Highly recommended for the enthusiast and generalist. A superb concise history of the Germans' key long range maritime recce and strike aircraft in WW2. The Focke Wulf Condor was a civilian airliner design adapted for war. In 1940-41 its presence in the Atlantic skies was uncontested, and its attacks at mast height sank or damaged unarmed or lightly armed merchantmen with impunity. The high water mark was February 1941 when 4 Condors sank 7 merchantmen in Convoy OB290. Churchill described it as the 'scourge of the Atlantic'. The book covers British counter measures: firstly, improved anti-aircraft guns on merchant ships and warships, stop-gap Catapult Aircraft Merchant (CAM) Ships with one-shot rocket-launched Hurricane fighters, and then the definitive solution, escort carriers.

The book uses the standard Osprey format with a high proportion of space for images and a concise text with a premium on well researched factual and technical information. While the text is more abbreviated than ideal the insights and analysis are authoritative. The legend did not match the reality. The aircraft was fragile and temperamental. It lacked strength, armour protection, power and maneuvrability; failings which were not compensated by increases in defensive guns. It had a very low survivability if intercepted and was highly vulnerable to head-on fighter attacks. In mid 1943 there was a intruiging contest over the Bay of Biscay between US B24 Liberator bomers and Condors. In 7 encounters 4 Condors were shot down. This must be a unique case where a 4 engined heavy bomber filled an air-superiority role! Unfortunately not much detail is provided. There are several excellent maps plotting ships sunk by Condors and downed Condors.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read 10 April 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Initially I was a bit disappointed with this book because I was hoping to see some colour reference photos of the interior to help with a model I am just about to build of this aircraft ; However in all fairness it wasnt marketed as a reference book instead an interesting history into an aircraft which if maybe was built a bit better could have inflicted far more damage on the Atlantic convoys than they did , and in turn change the course of the war.
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Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Telling the Tale: FW 200 Ops in WWII! 10 April 2010
By Michael OConnor - Published on Amazon.com
In the early days of World War II, FW 200 Condor attacks on Allied shipping were so effective that Churchill termed it the "Scourge of the Atlantic." The fact that this jury-rigged airliner-turned-bomber was pitted against almost unarmed merchantmen usually lacking sufficient escorts with no air cover somehow got lost in the translation. Robert Forczyk examines the combat career of the FW 200 in the latest 'Duel' book from Osprey Publishing.

In many ways, the behind-the-scenes aspects of the Condor story, as brought up in Forczyk's book, are even more interesting than its war record. In all likelihood, it wouldn't have played the role it did or been as effective as it was if Luftwaffe Major Edgar Petersen hadn't pushed for its use as a maritime recce/attack aircraft, commanded the first FW 200 unit, helped develop effective tactics for the Condor, guarded it against Luftwaffe commanders wanting to use it for "other duties," etc. Yet Petersen's efforts couldn't compensate for the fact that the Condor wasn't structurally capable of fulfilling its attack role. Even as an airliner, the FW 200 had a reputation for being fragile. When Kurt Tank loaded the design up with a gondola, bombs, fuel tanks, etc. AND didn't strengthen the airframe, it doomed the aircraft's usefulness. Once Allied merchantmen were adequately armed and had sufficient escorts and air cover, the FW 200's days were numbered.

Forczyk does an good job of setting the stage for Condor operations, the prewar mistakes made by British brass and civilians that inadvertently helped the FW 200's ship-killing role, the lack of cooperation between Luftwaffe and Kriesgmarine commanders that undercut the Condor's usefulness, notable FW 200 successes, Allied counter-measures, etc. I would have have liked more info on the Hurricane and F4F since these were the Condor's main aerial opponents but that's just me. Given the broad canvas Forczyk was working with, I think he did a good job of summarizing the Condor vs. Convoy experience.

The text is complimented by the usual mix of photographs, three-views, cockpit illustrations, combat scenes and maps. The combat illustrations were done by Howard Gerrard.

All in all, FW 200 CONDOR VS ATLANTIC CONVOY is a good addition to Osprey's popular 'Duel' series. Recommended.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Civilian Airliner Goes to War 2 Aug 2011
By Graves - Published on Amazon.com
When you talked about the "Battle of the Atlantic" in World war Two you tend to think of U-boats and escort vessels playing cat and mouse in the wide ocean but in this edition of Ospreys 'Duel' series Forczyk looks at the role of the German Fw 200 Condor, a one time airliner converted to long range raider and what role it played in the action.

Forczyk certainly knows his subject. He focuses very tightly on the Condor aircraft its development and the counter agents developed by the Allies. He looks not only at the action, and the technical elements of the craft but even the inter-service politics that limited the pilots' ability.

The one part of the book I did not like was the organization. Forczyk spends maybe the first half of the book talking about the technical elements and how they developed but it seems to be developing in a vacuum. I felt almost as if I were watching "12 O'clock High" the great WW2 bomber film seen almost entirely from the ground crew's world who see the planes go out and some come back and you make changes but you don't get to see what they're doing while they're gone.

When the section "Combat " starts on page 46 a great deal of it falls into place but I would have enjoyed the book far more if the technical and combat sections were married together better so you could see the need for the technical developments laid out in the pages of the first half of the book.

Personally I would have also liked to have seen a comparison of how other Germans aircraft, the Ju 88 and He 177, performed in anti-ship roles in the same period compared to the Fw 200. Did they have the same supply and operational problems? How much did their action influence the development of AA tactics that eventually forced the condors to pull back from close assaults? But I think that might have been outside the scope of the book.

When the dust settles and the book has closed Forczyk has given a very good look into the world of the Condor flight crews. Men who did their best with a tool never intended for war. At only 80 pages it isn't the last word on the subject, but it certainly honors those men and their deeds.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating look at an unusual duel 21 July 2010
By Richard Peterson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The Osprey Duel series is, perhaps, the most constrained of all the Opsrey series, both in format and subject matter. It has always been fighter vs fighter, tank vs tank or warship vs warship. In this case, though, Robert Forczyk has chosen very differently: it is not just that we have attacker vs target, but a target that is not even military and an attacker designed as an airliner, not a bomber. Forczyk has written several other Duel books, so he is familiar with the format and can turn it to his advantage, comparing the FW200 to the British attempts to defend their convoys from them. He does this without losing sight of the central fact that it is the merchant ship that is the true 'opponent,' and all that matters is how many merchant ships the FW200 can sink.

The FW200 is properly the focus of the book. The British did not believe the Germans could attack their shipping at such long range, so, without the FW200, there could be no duel. For both sides, this was a battle of improvisation; the Germans constantly trying to make the FW200 into a more effective combat aircraft, while the British were constantly coming up with improved ways to protect their convoys from it. The section on combat, the heart of the book, provides an overview of the struggle from mid 1940 to mid 1943, but focuses more on specific actions. They are often described by the combatants themselves and are the more gripping for that. The seesawing nature of the struggle, even though we know who is going to win, kept me turning pages to find out the next twist in the story.

It is worth noting a couple of missed German opportunities that Forczyk doesn't mention. By the spring of 1943, when Doenitz shifted the u-boats back to the trans-Atlantic convoy routes, KG40 had built up considerable experience in locating and shadowing convoys. The addition of radar greatly enhanced that capability and the Condors could have greatly helped the u-boats in the decisive phase of the Battle of the Atlantic. Instead, they concentrated on bombing attacks on the Gibraltar convoys, sinking perhaps as many ships as one successful u-boat attack on a major convoy located by Condors. As well, the Hs293 guided bomb could have had a major impact, if it had been available a year or more earlier. This could have been done, if the Germans had given the project any sort of priority.

In summary, I can strongly recommend this book to anyone interested in the Battle of the Atlantic or just looking for something a bit different from the usual 'Duel'.
8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Useful background on a neglected subject 19 April 2010
By Jonathan Lupton - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The role of FW-200 Condor convoy raiders gets mention in every worthwhile title on the Battle of the Atlantic. Yet the subject always remains a sideline to the U-boat war. This title gives vital background missing from even the best accounts.

Here, in brief, are just a few of this title's many interesting revelations. The Hurricane-armed CAM (catapult-armed merchant) ships were really of little value in dealing with the FW-200. More FW-200s were brought down by flak from Allied DEMS (defensively equipped merchant ship) vessels than by any other source. Despite all the damage done, the German bombing effort against Allied convoys was never much more than a sideline, carried on by a handful of dedicated aircrew, with little direction from above, and little coordination with the German Navy. The FW-200 itself suffered grave limitations. One of the war's great "what-ifs" will always remain: how differently would it have turned out if the He-177, slated to replace the Condors, had made it into action before the war's outcome was already decided?

The details of Allied flak armament, or bombsights on German aircraft, are seldom addressed in other titles, yet had a vital impact on the convoy war. In the dark years 1940-41, the British maximized inter-service cooperation between the RAF and RN, which allowed quick innovations that gradually overcame the threat of land-based Luftwaffe bombers. Cooperation between the Luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine were, by comparison, nearly nonexistent.

Well-written and well-illustrated, this title is up to Mr. Forczyk's usual high standard. I recommend it only if you have an interest in this arcane (but important) aspect of the Battle of the Atlantic. Those who do read it - even the experts - will gain fresh insights.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An awkward bird 10 Oct 2010
By N. Trachta - Published on Amazon.com
Most people who've studied the earlier part of WWII know that Winston Churchill referenced the FW 200 Condor as the "scourge of the Atlantic" because of what was happening to the convoys going to England. Because of this and the lines of the Condor, a love affair develops... When I saw that Osprey was offering a book on Condor's and their "prey", it became a must have; especially since my earlier Osprey Duel series purchases have been interesting.

Condor vs. Atlantic Convoy's is a typical Osprey Duel book; presents two sides, shows their strength/weakness, and talks about the results. However this book struck me right away as working at a disadvantage the Condor was an individual aircraft type while convoy's is something much more complex because it deals in multiple weapon systems and their use. Alas, this is the books great downfall. While Mr. Forczyk did a good job presenting the FW-200's history and capabilities, they failed to address German maritime strike capabilities and tactics past Condor crews did. Passing mention is made of the HE-177 but no real mention of other Luftwaffe anti-maritime operations. I know this seems petty since the book does say FW-200 Condor, however Mr. Forczyk is comparing one aircraft (the Condor) vs. a system of systems (convoy's consisted of the merchant ships, their defensive capabilities, their escorts, and any aircraft they might have carried). This is particularly disturbing when you consider that the FW-200 Condor wasn't designed to be a maritime strike aircraft, but rather a commercial airliner that was thrust into the reconnaissance role and had bombs added to it. There are good photos and paintings in here, there's also some nice maps showing where Condors sank vessels and were also lost.

Rating wise this one's a three star book. While Winston Churchill referred to the Condor was "the scourge of the Atlantic", Mr. Forczyk rather showed us that the Condor was easily defeatable but failed to address the other air components the Germans employed. This is something of a failure to me because while Mr. Forczyk did address his subject, he limited his scope on one side without limiting the other side's scope. I believe a more balanced and better book could have been made if Mr. Forczyk had either made a case that the Condor was the primary aircraft to destroy ships in the Atlantic (not discussed) or if he'd compared German Maritime strike capabilities to the Allied's ability to defend their convoys.
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