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German Night Fighter Aces of World War 2 (Osprey Aircraft of the Aces 20) Paperback – 5 Jun 1998
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About the Author
Jerry Scutts has worked in the field of aviation publishing since the late 1960s, writing over 40 books that have covered a broad spectrum of subject matter ranging from US Navy floatplane fighters in World War 2 to the exploits of the USAF_s Phantom IIs over Vietnam. His specialist areas are the Luftwaffe and the US Army Air Forces in World War 2, and he originally appeared on the Osprey list as long ago as 1977, when he wrote the second volume in the now much sought after Air Cam Air War series -- many of the jacket illustrations in this series were also painted by him. Jerry has been a regular contributor to Osprey's Aircraft of the Aces series since its inception in 1994.
Osprey's primary Luftwaffe author and artist, John Weal has written, illustrated and/or supplied artwork for several titles in the Aircraft of the Aces series. He owns one of the largest private collections of original German-language literature from World War 2, and his research is firmly based on this huge archive. He lives in Berkshire, UK.
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Intruding Allied night fighters adversely effected the tactical use of IFF [Identification Friend or Foe], just as they did most other phases of Luftwaffe night fighting procedure. For some time there was a popular belief that the enemy was able to home onto FuG25a transmissions, despite being told that this was not the case, and that the equipment should be left on at all times during operational flights. Circumventing their orders, many crews still switched off their FuG 25a for fear that they would otherwise be detected. In fact crews were generally wary of any IFF device- they lost faith in such equipment after being continually fired upon by their own flak with the FuG 25a switched on or off! It became standard procedure- if no intruders were reported- to switch on FuG 25a at the point of take-off, and to keep it operating until well clear of the airfield. During intercepts the instrument would be turned off, but on return to base, again providing that no warning of intruders was in effect, the set would be switched on shortly before reaching the airfield. '
This illustrates the black-magic aura of radio signals, of being a cog in a military interception unit. The British intruders simply knew the operational details of launching fighters to meet bombers approaching overhead. -and when they saw airfield lights illuminate, they would fly toward the most like direction of takeoffs. Their own radar would find the climbing Nachtjager. Only the most cagy pilots could complete a mission.
Great three-views of the three major aircraft types, color sideviews with explanations and the top aces are listed.
The author, Jerry Scutts, tells the story of the formation of the Nachtjagd, its development as the war progressed as well as the weapons used and brief mention of the German night fighter pilots who were successful in the defense of the German homeland against the terror bombing campaign carried out by Bomber Command. The book covers the principle Luftwaffe aircraft used in the night fighter role, mainly the ME-110 but also the JU-88, DO-17, the ME-109 and FW-190 used in the "Wild Boar" role, as well as the HE-219 in limited numbers.
We read of men such as Heinrich Prinz zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, Wolfgang Falck, Helmut Lent and Wolfgang Schnaufer - often in their own words. The reader gets a sense of the technological war waged by the RAF and Luftwaffe. The careful reader will note that no technological advantage lasts long before countered by an advance of technology by the other side. It's an important topic considering the massive sums sunk into technology by the world's militaries - especially that of the US.
This is a very good work covering the air war at night during WWII, but I was expecting more about the night fighter aces themselves. Most of the book covers the airwar itself as the war went on with brief mentions of the pilots. Nonetheless, I give this Osprey title four stars for packing a lot of information about the night airwar into a relatively small package.
Good for a starter text, with a long section on jet night fighters that is unique.
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