The Luftwaffe over El-Alamein, by Marek J. Murawski Published by Kagero Publishing Photos provided by the author and H. J. Nowarra records Illustrations and color plates by Arkadiusz Wrobel 56 pages of text and photos with 4 additional pages with single profile color plates of BF109 fighters as they appeared in North Africa
The story of the Luftwaffe in North Africa, and in particular in the air battle over the El-Alamein battlefield, is one of superior tactics and aircraft against superior numbers, maintenance and supply. The Luftwaffe was fighting a defensive air war, and in spite of high success rates in the air, could not stop the enormous numbers of Allied aircraft flying against them. This book from Kagero publishing, released in 2010, highlights the story, primarily from the point of view of the fighter units.
The cover art shows a BF 109 flying past a Curtiss P-40, the Curtiss in flames. The introduction then gives a first hand account from one German Pilot, Herbert Kaiser, in which he describes an air battle he was involved in. He shot down two Curtiss P-40 aircraft but was then shot down himself. He survived and after four days made it back to his unit. Such was the air war in North Africa. The account is simple but attention getting.
This is my first experience with Kagero books and I found the rest of the information presented to be very interesting, but different from typical book narrative. It begins by starting apparently where a previous book ended off, by flowing into a brief account of the ground action at El-Alamein. Most of the narrative is given in brief segments and appears to be highlights of after action reports, as well as giving numbers of aircraft and total number of sorties flown. Inter-spaced among the details are short first hand descriptions of particular engagements from the pilots involved, including one British pilot, shot down and captured.
The flow of the text changes in the last section of the book, entitled "Retreat". Numerous entries from the personal journal of Armin Kohler, with the header for each entry being "seek and destroy" and then describing what had happened that day.
There are names provided for many of the German pilots shot down, including their fates. A detailed account of the loss of Hans-Joachim Marseille, leading German ace in North Africa at the time, is provided.
A detailed summary, quoted from Luftkamf zwischen Sand und Sonne, by Ring Hans and Shores Christopher, covers the last 3/12 pages. It discusses how German pilots regarded their own fighters as superior, but believed the British used outdated and improper tactics in formation, which led to many Luftwaffe victories, as well as continuing to use the Hawker Hurricane rather than sending the Spitfire into service. They regarded the Curtiss P-40 as an effective bomber escort, but not a good fighter on it's own. They avoided dog fighting when possible, using hit and run tactics to their advantage as much as possible, thereby enabling even two or four aircraft to attach the much larger British formations. They preferred the climate of North Africa over Russia, including the fact that if shot down in Africa, they stood the chance of being taken prisoner and surviving. The Luftwaffe claimed the destruction of over 1500 Allied aircraft by single engine fighters during 1942, but lost over 1000 of their own, as well as control of the air, which was a key factor in Germany's defeat in North Africa.
The color plates are clear, showing good side profiles of eight Bf 109 fighters, from the E-7/B, F-4 and F-4/Z trop and G-2 trop. 6 are facing to the left, two to the right. On the rear cover are both left and right side views of the F-4Z trop piloted by Oblt. Marseille, showing 138 victory markings on the tail. Only two of the aircraft are shown in camo scheme other than the RLM 78/79 (dark yellow over gray). They are in the RLM 70/71/76 (green and green over gray), with one over-sprayed with dark yellow.
As a historical reference the book is interesting and detailed with data, but very brief. It serves to explain what took place, either to satisfy curiosity, or to whet the appetite for greater knowledge. There are numerous photos throughout the book, showing airfield conditions, operating aircraft, damaged aircraft and Luftwaffe personnel. For modelers, the color plates are a very nice reference. My copy was provided by Aeroscale for this review. A search online from different sources showed prices from $20.00 US and going up. I found it for 16 euro and 18 pounds at two other sites respectively. Shop around and look for the best bargain.
Highs: Specific data combined with first hand accounts give the book personal appeal. Lows: Very brief. The after action summaries feel somewhat hurried at times. Verdict: A detailed summary of the air battles and their participants over El-Alamein in 1942
About Russ Amott (russamotto) FROM: UTAH, UNITED STATES
I got back into the hobby a few years back, and wanted to find ways to improve, which is how I found this site. Since joining Armorama I have improved tremendously by learning from others here, and have actually finished a couple of kits. I model to relax and have fun, but always look to improve. ...