I have recently enjoyed poring through two in-depth volumes that cover the aircraft that were the mainstays of the Luftwaffe’s World War Two bomber force, the Heinkel He 111 and the Junkers Ju 88.
Heinkel He 111: The Early Years — Fall of France, Battle of Britain and the Blitz. By Chris Goss. Frontline Books, 2017.
Junkers Ju 88: The Early Years — Blitzkrieg to the Blitz. By Chris Goss. Frontline Books, 2017.
The great virtue of these books is that they offer an all-around understanding of the aircraft, from their design and development to their employment in specific campaigns, with fascinating close-ups on the actual pilots and air crew who flew them. By the time I was finished reading, the history had come alive in my imagination as I could put myself in the shoes of those who were there.
The books’ images themselves, billed as “rare Luftwaffe photographs from wartime collections,” play no small part in the overall effect. The aircraft are shown in flight, on the ground, crashed, damaged, and under maintenance–often in close-ups that provide the modelers among us with a wealth of historically accurate detail.
Whenever I read a new book I have enjoyed, and especially as I contemplate writing a review, a question often comes to mind: In this age of free, near-universal access to information and imagery, do we really need professionally curated books at all any more? The resounding answer for me is, Yes!
Although I can quite enjoy poking around the Internet, my understanding of the people and machines of the past always grows far more–by leaps and bounds–when I read the fruit of an expert’s dedicated, long-term research, such as Mr. Goss has assembled here for our interest and benefit.
Ten years ago, when I built my own Ju 88, I was guided less by what might have been realistic than by my fond childhood memory of Miniplanes’ Ju 88, with the desert tan I loved! Now I know not only that the particular squadron indicated by the kit I built would not have been in the desert at all, but I also know the difference between all the variants that were produced. There is nothing wrong with the casual way I chose to paint the model ten years ago, but if I want to do one that is accurate, books like these are invaluable for filling in all the details that will bring a project as close to historical reality as possible.