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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent history of the most renown WW2 German long range maritime strike aircraft, 14 Dec. 2011
This review is from: Fw-200 Condor Vs Atlantic Convoys: 1941-43 (Duel) (Paperback)
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. Given the few books on the topic the reading list is very useful.

See also the book Focke-Wulf Condor Scourge of the Atlantic by Kenneth Poolman. This lacks analysis but it contains many excellent detailed descriptions of Condor attacks on merchant ships, likely from British 'after action' reports. The Forczyk book doesn't have room for this detail but the two books together provide a definitive history of this fascinating aircraft.
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