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Sturmstaffel 1
Reich Defence 1943-1944
The War Diary

By Eric Mombeek
with Robert Forsyth & Eddie J. Creek

 

 

Classic Publications

 

S u m m a r y

ISBN: 0-9526867-9-1
Media: Soft cardboard cover; 300mm x 220mm in portrait format; 96 pages; 166 photographs; 10 colour profiles; tables; technical drawings.
Price: 14.95 plus shipping, online from Classic Publications
Review Type: First Read
Advantages: Fascinating story of the Luftwaffe's famous "ramming" unit; logical structure and readable text; excellent wartime photos of aircraft and personnel; pilot's first-hand accounts; supplementary information supplied in tables and sidebars.
Disadvantages:  
Recommendation: Recommended for any Luftwaffe history buffs or modellers

 

Reviewed by Brett Green


HyperScale is proudly supported by Squadron.com

 

FirstRead

 

Sturmstaffel 1 was born out of desperation and existed for only six months. Despite the short timeframe, its reputation has endured thanks to its last-resort tactic of ramming Allied bombers.

Eric Mombeek's book, "Sturmstaffel 1 - Reich Defence 1943-1944 The War Diary", explores the background, the operations and epilogue of this famous unit.

The book successfully explains the reasons behind, and the practical application of, the apparently fanatical ramming tactic.

The opening chapter describes the impact of the American daylight bombing campaign during 1942 and 1943. It also explains the peril faced by German fighter pilots in dealing with the dreaded American "Vierbombers". Even without fighter escorts, a B-17F could aim 12 .50 calibre Browning machine guns at an attacking aircraft. Variations in attack methods had some impact on the percentage chances of success, but the most frequent form of attack - from the rear - was an almost suicidal prospect owing to the deadly cones of defence thrown out from the bomber. A German fighter was in less danger from the hail of lead by attacking from the front, but success required remarkable marksmanship and steady nerve. The risk of collision was also a grave possibility.

Goering's rage at the uninterrupted Allied bombing attacks led to one of his loyal officers devising a method of defence that would provide a better chance of both success and survival. By attacking in a group from the rear at close quarters, a formation of fighters would dilute the defensive capabilities of a "vierbomber" by spreading fire across several aircraft. Furthermore, greater firepower would be brought to bear on the vulnerable wings and engines of the B-17 by the group of attacking fighters. There seems little argument about the logic of this tactic proposed by Hauptman von Kornatzi. However, he also proposed that fighters should ram the bombers when they ran out of ammunition. This was not rhetoric - the pilots of the new unit were volunteers who understood the requirement and had to sign a pledge to fulfil it. 

The bulk of the book describes the aircraft, the personnel, the weapons and the operations of Sturmstaffel 1 using a blend of text, photos, profiles and tables.

The text is chronologically structured and highly readable. The narrative text maintains objectivity throughout the book, and relies on the first-hand accounts of aircrew to offer opinions on the effectiveness of the tactics of Sturmstaffel 1. 

More than 160 photographs will provide ample inspiration for modellers. Personnel and aircraft are thoroughly covered, including many close-up shots of markings and aircraft details. The bulk of aircraft photos are, not surprisingly, Focke-Wulf Fw 190As. These photos are supported by technical drawings.

Ten colour profiles of Focke-Wulf Fw 190As by Tom Tullis and Dennis Davison are also included. These are another highlight, and are well up to the high standards of these artists.

 

 

Conclusion

 

This book does not claim to be a definitive historical account of Sturmstaffel 1. However, it succeeds in its aim of creating an impression of the unit and its personnel from the fragments of information that remain today. 

The use of photographs, line drawings, profiles and tables enhance the story.

I found that "Sturmstaffel 1 - Reich Defence 1943-1944 The War Diary" gave me real insight into the background and operations of this short-lived unit. It will be of interest to Luftwaffe historical buffs and modellers alike.

Recommended.


Eric Mombeek's "Sturmstaffel 1", and other Classic books, may be purchased through
specialist bookstores worldwide or from Classic Publications Website


Review Copyright 2001 by Brett Green
This Page Created on 10 December, 2001
Last updated 22 July, 2003

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