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on 10 January 2005
Norbert Hannig's account of his experiences as a Luftwaffe 'Jagdflieger' (fighter pilot) on the Eastern Front from 1943-45 provides an interesting insight into the experiences of one of the "mid-war" Luftwaffe pilots. From Hannig's days with the Jungvolk (a youth organization in Germany similar to the Boy Scouts - in contrast to the Hitler Youth) in 1940 to his flight training experiences and subsequent posting to the "Green Hearts" Fighter Wing in Russia, the book is easy to read. The narrative flows and is not at all boring. You get a sense of the man himself and the effects of the daily grind of operations over an ever changing front.
(John Weal, who translated Mr. Hannig's book, is in his own right an expert on the Luftwaffe fighter arm. Check out any of his books in the "Aircraft of the Aces" series, which are published by Osprey Publishing.)
For any reader who is keenly interested in reading about the lives of obscure Second World War aces, this book will make a welcome addition to your library. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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on 14 February 2006
Luftwaffe fighter ace provides an interesting and in depth insight into the day to day life of an average fighter pilot on the Eastern front. Nobert Hanning began operations with JG54 and served until the end of the war flying over 200 missions and achieving 42 victories whilst flying the FW190. The book traces his career from his high school days to his post war career. The most interesting part of the book is the element that charts his wartime exploits as little is written about day to day operations on the Eastern Front. This makes gripping reading as does his account of working with and flying with the likes of Emil ‘Bully’ Lang and Walter Nowotny. The book is extremely well translated and contains a number of excellent pictures. Highly recommended.
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on 30 July 2006
The book is exellent value with good pictures and the story is never dull. I expected Hannig's story to be just training and fighting but stories of leave from the front, family life during the war, life as an instructor and fighter pilot at the front as well as his endeavours after the war held my interest so I could not put it down. It's not a very long story unfortunately and I sometimes wished more detail about co-pilots fates and battles fought.
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on 15 January 2010
Norbert Hannig went from service in the Jungvolk (an organization similar to the Boy Scouts) to the Luftwaffe in the latter part of 1940. Following completion of training, he was posted early in 1943 to Jagdgeschwader 54 (the "Green Hearts" Wing) on the Eastern Front, which boasted aces of the caliber of Otto Kittel (with 267 victories, the 4th ranking ace in history) and Emil "Bully" Lang.

Hannig flew both the ME 109 and Focke Wulf 190 in combat, scoring 42 victories. Shortly before the end of the war, he was posted to the West, where, after completing a conversion course in the Messerschmitt 262 jet fighter, he served with Jagdverband 44 (the "Squadron of Experts") under the command of Adolf Galland.

Hannig's account of his experiences as a Luftwaffe `Jagdflieger' (fighter pilot) on the Eastern Front from 1943-45 provides an interesting insight into the experiences of one of the "mid-war" Luftwaffe pilots. From his flight training experiences and subsequent posting to the "Green Hearts" Fighter Wing in Russia, the book is easy to read. The narrative flows and is not at all boring. You get a sense of the man himself and the effects of the daily grind of operations over an ever changing front.

For any reader who is keenly interested in reading about the lives of obscure Second World War aces, this book will make a welcome addition to your library. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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on 30 March 2014
Autobiographies by German WW2 pilots are rare and those that exist often don't translate well but this is an exception. Extremely well translated without losing the spirit of the story this book tells the life of a Luftwaffe fighter pilot from learning how to fly gliders as a child through fighting on the Eastern front in the BF109 and FW190 to escaping capture by the Russians at the end of the war.

Hannig was both skilful and very lucky. On many occasions you were left wondering 'what if' when he relates how a chance conversation or a chance change of destination had saved him. Hannig relates his story with pride for his country but without malice or glory and by the end of the book when he is trying to meet up with his family (again an amazing chance conversation helped here) you cannot help but feel a little sympathy.

I have been reading pilot autobiographies for the last 40 years and this ranks amongst the best and will be read again.
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on 11 February 2014
A really good read. I liked the way the book was written and told of Norbert's life story and career in the luftwaffe. I also enjoyed the parts about the end of the war and his struggles to survive in post war situations against all three victorous powers. His war was a tough one and if you took off the eagle and swastika and put on any other uniform I am sure the experiences and battles would have been the same.
I think the book will be popular with all aviation readers and also people looking for the alternative stance on history from the perspective of those who were there rather than those who think they were. A couple of good books around now bvut I have to say this was a cracking good read about a talented single minded individual wh may not have won the knights cross for his victories in the air but who nonetheless was an ACE in every way. from gliders to the ME 262 he did it all. I think it was worth 5 stars anyway.
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on 6 May 2013
This is the best autobiography by a German pilot I've read so far, highlighting the fact that you don't have to be famous to write a great book. John Weal appears to have done a great job of translating Norbert's memoirs. It was a real pleasure to read as it gave me a real feeling for the man. Something you don't get from some other German autobiographies I've read.

Norbert Hannig, like many other Luftwaffe pilots, learnt to fly gliders before training to be a pilot with the Luftwaffe. He then joined JG54 in 1943 and flew over the crumbling Eastern Front before being recalled to become a fight instructor. Just before the war ended he completed training on the ME262 but never flew it in combat. All this is very interesting reading, but I found the last part of the book, after the German surrender, the most compelling. I really rooted for the author as he struggled to find his wife and family in a war torn landscape.

Hannig flew over 200 missions and was credited with 42 victories. It wasn't his aerial prowess that I found most interesting though, but the man himself as he struggles to stay alive as his world falls apart around his ears.
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on 5 June 2012
Very fine read, you get everything it says "on the tin!". If you study the combat of the various fighter pilot's of all nations, during period's of intense combat (WW1 and WW2), it is a little frustrating to say the least, to see the small number of memoirs available from Luftwaffe fighter unit's, such has this title. No other fighter pilot's in miltary history succeeded and failed in such a manner has these airmen. I say this only on a "strategic" level, but not when you tally up successes gleaned by the "jagdflieger" in combat over the various battlefield's they fought and died over. Norbert Hannig writes with flair and imagination, taking you into the world of these pilot's and their routines in the daily death struggle they had to experience.Worthy of it's 5 star rating!
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on 27 November 2012
An object lesson in how even the most open minded - reasonable - person can still become trapped and embroiled within the maw of an increasingly demented and self destructive war machine!
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on 13 October 2013
Luftwaffe fighter pilot Norbert Hanning describes the increasing struggle to keep flying as the Nazi war machine begins to collapse.
Well written account that gives an insight inside the Luftwaffe fighter units as occupied airfields are abandoned as Soviet troops make advances. Interesting read that makes a balance to the many books written by allied pilots.
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