It isn't often that one gets to read a modern autobiography about a WWII pilot. The ones published after the war were interesting reading, but generally tinged a bit due to the nearness of the events. When one gets something like Walter Schuck's work, it has the benefit of being able to put things more into perspective. I was amazed at the amount of detail that Herr Schuck was able to bring to this book. Obviously he has a superb memory and kept most of his personal logs and notes from being lost or destroyed, as was often the case with veterans in post war Germany.
Like most, the author was very interested in aviation and as soon as he could, he joined one of the many groups around Germany at the time that were able to nurture that interest and desire. So at 16 he decided to join the Luftwaffe. Of course, there was the mandatory 6 month stint in the Reich Labor Service to build up his body and the usual initial military training before being accepted into the Luftwaffe pilot training course. As many of you know, it takes several years to go through pilot training until one is able to get one's wings and the author had a most interesting time of it, to say the least.
Finally, he earned a posting with JG 3 but found little opportunity for combat until posted to JG 5 in Northern Norway. Thus begins the sage of what was to become the 'Arctic Eagle'. Few books have concentrated on the Arctic front, so that aspect alone really adds to the interest of this book. There were days and weeks where the weather made flying difficult if not impossible, yet the men stationed in northern Norway were able to take the war to the Soviets at their bases around Murmansk with quite a bit of success.
Walter Schuck was quite successful, shooting down a lot of P-40s, P-39s and Hurricane fighters as well as the usual Yaks and various bombers. In fact, he managed to defeat 12 aircraft during one 24 hour period, a remarkable feat for any pilot. Starting as an enlisted pilot, he earned a commission as well as many awards. During the end of the war, he was asked to join JG 7, then flying the Me-262. Though he did not fly many missions, he was able to achieve ace status on the jet, which added to his total victory score, bringing it to over 200 confirmed victories.
Is is a superlative book that is full of rare photos from the author's personal collection. Combine that with the usual color profiles of the aircraft flown by the author and it makes for a book that is a must have for any WWII aviation enthusiast. Most highly recommended. --Scott Van Aken - Modelling Madness May 2010