This book takes a rather unusual approach to its subject. The majority of aircraft reference books of this type dive fairly quickly into the aircraft articles, and tend to organise them by manufacturer and then by date (or by RLM number for German aircraft), after a fairly brief introduction. Here we start with a large and very comprehensive introduction, covering the history of the Luftwaffe, key personnel, aircraft companies, uniforms, the basics of flight, weapons, awards and all sorts of other topics.
Once we do reach the aircraft they are organised by type of aircraft (bombers, fighters etc), and within that largely chronologically. This has some advantages, in that we can follow the story of aircraft development, but does mean that you need to use the index to find specific aircraft. Each chapter begins with the aircraft in service in 1935, then moves through the standard types of the Second World War, before moving onto the vast array of projects of varying degrees of credibility.
Lepage is better than most at making it clear just how much effort was wasted by German aircraft designers. Advanced paper designs didn’t mean the advanced science was available to turn them into reality, and very few of these later designs even reached the prototype stage. In addition several otherwise very able designers were distracted by personal obsessions, most notably asymmetrical aircraft and flying wings. In both cases a huge amount of effort produced little or nothing of practical use.
One other distinctive feature of the book is the consistent use of the author’s own line drawings. Most of them work well, although there are one or two where the aircraft looks slightly odd, but it does mean that you have a consistent style.
Overall this is a very useful single volume reference work that covers the full range of German military aircraft and aircraft designs of the Second World War, from the world class aircraft that started the war to the fantastical designs towards its end.
1 - Historical Background
2 - Basic Technical Data
3 - Regalia and Uniforms
4 - Bombers
5 - Fighters
6 - Jet Fighters
7 - Seaplanes
8 - Transport Aircraft
9 - Miscellaneous Aircraft
Author: Jean-Denis G.G. Lepage