Like Night Fighters: Hunters of the Reich, this follows the service careers of five men, Hans-Ekkehard Bob, Heinz Marquardt, Viktor Petermann, Hortst Petzschler and Willi Unger. These were not promoted during the peace-time expansion phase, but during the grinding years of attrition. Bob was a Lieutnant at the invasion of Poland, Marquardt & Petermann in basic training, Petzschler & Unger in apprenticeships. All men were being harnessed to contribute to the goals of the greater Reich. But it was already running out of fuel.
Early in the war, before fuel shortages, initial training was all in powerplanes. One class portrait shows men in flying kit:
'Gruppe 10/41. During the training at Grotkau the students received between 450 and 600 hours of flying instruction....' (p. 144) Later, training devolved to glider flights, followed by abbreviated powered flights:
' Due to the shortage of aircraft fuel the initial part of the course was conducted on gliders. With his experience and qualifications Willi was selected to train the thirty men that made up his own Gruppe and, by the beginning of December 1942, this had been duly accomplished. Instruction on powered aircraft began on the 24th of the month and after just one week, and twenty-eight flights accompanied by an instructor, he undertook his first trip alone. ' (p. 184)
During breakdown of the training schools, half-trained men are forwarded to operational units for training in tactics, formation flying, avoiding enemy fighters, and operating as a good wingman. Despite these handicaps, each man became an ace- flying against well armed and armored planes. They tell of crash-landing one plane and immediately returning to a field and taking another up. They switched from high-altitude Bf 109s and in another unit, flew armored 'Sturmbock' Fw 190s. No specialization!
Additionally, it was not a problem of lacking weapons, it was the wastage of experienced pilots and tired pilots who should have been rested or sent to train fresh staffels.
Appendices contain victory claims, glossary and German award medals. Good selection of pictures.
For the views of such a commander forced to lead young troops: Messerschmitts Over Sicily: Diary of a Luftwaffe Fighter Commander (Stackpole Military History Series).