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The Ultimate Piston Fighters of the Luftwaffe

by Justo Miranda

Fonthill Media

 

S u m m a r y :

Catalogue Number, Description and ISBN:

Fonthill Media Limited
The Ultimate Piston Fighters of the Luftwaffe
ISBN: 978-1-78155-249-0

Contents & Media:

Hard cover, 256 pages, 25 x 18 cm (10 x 7 inch) format; black and white line drawings

Price:

From USD$21.12 available online from Amazon and specialist bookshops and websites worldwide

Review Type:

FirstRead

Advantages:

Interesting subject matter; well-written text; superb illustrations.

Disadvantages:

Some typographic and other editing inconsistencies

Conclusion:

Miranda’s analysis of the Third Reich’s final piston-engine aircraft designs is an impressive work that reflects considerable research and artistic ability.  Anyone with an interest in ‘what if’ World War 2 aircraft should pick up a copy, and ‘Luft 46’ modellers will find a wealth of information for their next project – highly recommended.


Reviewed by Brad Fallen


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FirstRead

 

World War 2 Luftwaffe paper projects hold an enduring interest for aviation historians and modellers alike.  Massive fleets of Allied aircraft, mostly designed before the conflict began, ultimately destroyed the Luftwaffe.  However a small number of advanced German designs – while insufficient to tip the balance in Hitler’s favour – pointed to the future of aerial warfare. 

The best known of these are the jets and rockets that entered Luftwaffe service in 1944-45, but German engineers were also testing the boundaries of piston-engine aircraft design.  While only a handful of these types (such as the Dornier Do 335) were produced there were many other promising propeller-driven designs that never made it off the drawing board, as Justo Miranda reveals in this fascinating study.

 

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  • Ultimate Piston Fighters of the Luftwaffe Book Review by Brad Fallen: Image
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Miranda’s focus is technical:  this is a book of diagrams and data that assumes an understanding of the broader historical context.  Miranda begins with a scene-setting introduction that describes the challenges facing Allied and German aircraft designers and the responses of each in addressing these.  He then examines a number of German designs that are listed in alphabetical order by manufacturer, as follows.

  • Chapters 1-11:  Blohm und Voss.  Designs considered range from the reasonably traditional BV 155 – an evolution of the Messerschmitt Me 155 – through a number of asymmetrical and pusher concepts to the arrow-winged, and decidedly unproven, P.208.
  •  Chapters 12-13:  Daimler-Benz.  Two designs are examined:  the DB-609 with its proposed mid-fuselage engine and propeller, and a heavy fighter built around the 24-cylinder DB 613 engine.
  • Chapters 14-17:  Dornier.  All of the designs examined here are, in varying degrees, developments of the successful Dornier Do 335.  The most spectacular, had it flown, would undoubtedly have been the twin-engined P.252 with its contra-rotating rear-mounted propellers.
  • Chapters 18-27:  Focke-Wulf.  As with Blohm und Voss, Miranda begins with some comparatively modest Focke-Wulf initiatives:  various Fw 190 and Ta 152 projects that attempted to increase the performance of these already proven airframes.  However he then moves on to more ambitious – and in some cases fanciful – projects such as the Fw 190 Wb-1 with its W-shaped wing, a BMW 802-powered fighter that looked like the Fw 190 V1 on steroids, and a BMW 803-driven machine that resembled a contra-prop Vampire.
  • Chapter 28:  Heinkel.  Only one design is considered here, the very attractive contra-prop P.1076 that was developed from the record-breaking Heinkel He 100.
  • Chapters 29-30:  Henschel.  Two dramatic designs are presented:  the canard-equipped P.75 and the tail-less Lippisch-influenced P.130.
  • Chapter 31:  Lippisch 8-334 (Me 334).  This slightly sinister looking aircraft (which appears to be assembled from the left-over parts of other machines) was intended as a stopgap measure pending the introduction to service of the Messerschmitt Me 163.  However, according to Miranda’s statistics it would have offered performance only a little better than the Bf 109 G.
  • Chapter 32:  Skoda-Kauba V5.  This design was intended to be a high-altitude interceptor, and according to the author would have been a “formidable machine in the line of the Me 209 H and the Ta 152 H”.

Miranda now turns his attention to ejection seats and weapons systems.  The seats are dealt with in chapter 33 where the Luftwaffe’s successful use of seats by Heinkel and Focke-Wulf is examined; the weapons systems are considered as follows.

  • Chapters 34-37:  Bordwaffen.  These chapters delve into a wide range of airborne guns considered by the Luftwaffe, ranging from proven designs to experimental concepts born of desperation.
  • Chapters 38-40:  Spin and fin-stabilised rockets.  A number of air-to-air and air-to-ground rockets (real and conceptual) are described, again varying from practical ideas to designs that would have been near suicidal to use on operations.
  • Chapters 41-44:  Glide bombs and missiles.  Weapons described include the Blohm und Voss BV24-6 B Hagelkorn, the Gotha P.56 and P.57, the Henschel Hs 298 Luftkampfrakete, and – perhaps best known of all – the Ruhrstahl 8-344 (X-4) Jagerrakete.

Most of these chapters are fairly short, with no more than two or three pages of text accompanied by a list of technical data for each type (including on the wings, fuselage, cockpit, undercarriage, engine, armament, and electronics).  Several pages (and frequently more) of Miranda’s line drawings follow, showing what these machines would have looked like if manufactured.  These illustrations, mostly in 1/72 scale, are the heart of the book and clearly show the author’s passion for his subject.  They include not only the usual profiles and overhead views, but cross-sections and cut-aways that reveal internal structures, crew accommodation and weapons placement.

Miranda’s writing is quite readable but the density of the subject matter makes this a book from which you dip in and out, rather than read cover to cover in one go.  And while the robust hardcover binding and glossy paper reflect high production values, the editing appears a little sloppy.  I found a number of typographic errors throughout the text, and in the ejection seat chapter Rudolf Schmidt’s escape from a crashing Heinkel He 162 is described twice (but slightly differently) on two successive pages.

 

 

Conclusion

 

However these are minor nitpicks only.  Miranda’s analysis of the Third Reich’s final piston-engine aircraft designs is an impressive work that reflects considerable research and artistic ability.  Anyone interested in the history of aviation technology or ‘what if’ World War 2 aircraft should pick up a copy, and ‘Luft 46’ modellers will find a wealth of information for their next project (although they’ll also need some scratch-building skills!) 

Highly recommended.


Review Copyright 2015 by Brad Fallen
This Page Created on 16 June, 2015
Last updated 16 June, 2015

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