Focke-Wulf Condor: Scourge of the Atlantic Hardcover – 14 Dec 1978
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192pp, illustrated with b&w plates and maps.
Top Customer Reviews
The book also covers British counter measures including the stop-gap the British Catapult Aircraft Merchant (CAM) with one-shot rocket-launched Hurricane fighters, and the ultimate solution, escort carriers. It follows a strictly chronological sequence of German attacks and British responses. It lacks an analysis or overview to complement the chronological account, and is the poorer for it. A minor criticism is the lack of titles for the chapters - titles citing the chronological period covered by each chapter would have been useful.
See also the book Fw-200 Condor Vs Atlantic Convoys: 1941-43 (Duel) by Robert Forczyk which has an excellent overview and analysis of the Condor's effectiveness. However it lacks the detailed descriptions of attacks found in the Poolman book. Together the two books provide a comprehensive history of this maritime strike aircraft.
It is an excellent read for aviation fans.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Poolman, Kenneth 1978 Scourge of the Atlantic: Focke-Wulf Condor Book Club Associates, London. ASIN: B0007C04PC
Once as child on the beaches of Rhosneigr, Anglesey Wales, about 1943, I and my brother detected something moving misty in the clouds above us. Then we gathered the falling rain of aluminum radar chaff, and saw in this a tangible demonstration of the presence of a monstrous evil machine.
While writing my memoirs I sought more information, to convert this emotional childhood observation into adult reality. Apparently we children had witnessed the passing of a Focke-Wulf Condor.
To try to learn more I purchased this book, and found it excellent, with massive detailed descriptions of a large number of combat incidents. It has the gripping feel of "real" narrative. In addition I found it also very useful for my own historical use. The maps on pages 16 and 18 were very informative. The photographic illustrations offer powerful imagery as well as data.
The book leaves one with the flashes of excitement and moments of terror, as it describes the terrible losses and sadness of combat of convoys fighting Condors and submarines while crossing the Atlantic during WWII.
The mothers of the drowned merchant sailors had cried
On page 182 Poolman tells us that by the invasion of Normandy June 6 1944, of the two hundred and sixty two condors produced, most had been expended, and their crews lost to serve the dreams of conquest of a mad man.
Thus after years of soaring to kill as if long winged buzzards, these fire spurting, bomb throwing, dragons of evil, these Condors of Hitler, passed from the scene....
Larry Daley 2007
The writer, who hails from the world of TV, wrote this lightweight book as one would a documentary--with lots of interviews, but without a detailed, primary sourced bibliography (such sources may have been consulted, but they are not listed). Presumably, just as in TV, detailed sources and in-depth research are not important to a general audience as they are to historians. But wow--what a cover!
He also approached the topic in TV tropes, although he may not have realized it. The Condors were a predator, and the cops in this crime show have to figure out a way to solve it. We see glimpses of the dastardly criminal, who slashes the convoys. There's lots of focus on criminal procedures and the good guys trying to figure out how to stop the criminal. CAM ships, aircraft carriers, good shooting from the ships, and lots of guts helped the merchant fleet, like justice, prevail. Even then, the ending is lacking in a satisfying climax.
This is not "Stopped at Stalingrad," or the chapter you wish Clay Blair would have written to accompany "Hitler's U-boats." While the prose itself is clear, it is ultimately uninformed by a deeply researched account of Condor operations or its pilots, or any corresponding analysis--the kind of military history readers have come to expect since the days when this book was written.
At first, the squadrons suffered from landing crashes when Condors' lightweight structure collapsed from overloading. "Militarized' versions were strengthened for hard use, reducing the accident rate. After that, they were the object of RAF bomber raids on the Bremen factory or their bases and long-range fighter patrols in the Bay of Biscay as Condors departed or arrived.
Ship losses became so acute that many solutions were tried- guns with guncrews to shoot at low-flying Condors, rockets, even fighters catapulted on one-way missions. Mostly, these only encouraged the Condor pilots to keep at a distance. It was not until escort aircraft carriers appeared on the scene that the big birds (and the Ju-290 successors) were defeated.
I liked this for its listings of battles between the Condors above and individual convoys. A good treatment of a little-known threat to Britain's supply lines, and cause of many deaths in Merchant Marine crews.
See also: Fw 200-Condor: Battle Companion of the U-Boat.