Images of War: Stuka, Hitler's Lethal Dive Bomber, Alistair Smith

Images of War: Stuka, Hitler's Lethal Dive Bomber, Alistair Smith

This entry in the Images of War series contains photos from the album of Erich Heine, the gunner and radio operator in a Stuka dive bomber. They cover the period from his training to August 1943 when his aircraft was shot down on the Eastern Front and he was captured by the Soviets. The photos have been organised by topic, so we work through a set of portraits of Heine and his colleagues, his training, time in Czechoslovakia, in-flight photos, snowy weather, Luftwaffe funerals and his time on leave.

The general structure of the book is good. The chapter introductions give a general context to the pictures, while most of the individual captions explain the contents of the photos or provide more detail (in one or two cases the text follows a different story, but this is often because there isn't much specific to say about the photo).

I can certainly sympathise with the difficulties of writing captions. Sometimes the exact contents of a photo aren't at all clear and it can take quite a bit of work to correctly identify something. In one example here were have a picture of a biplane trainer, identified incorrectly in the caption as an Arado Ar68. The author suggests it might be an Arado 69, but this was only ever produced in prototype form. An examination of the photo suggests that the aircraft is actually an Arado Ar66 trainer, but with a modified rear cockpit - the pattern of struts and bracing wires is an exact match, as is the unusual triangular shape of the nose and the pilot's cockpit.

This book contains a wide range of interesting photos. I found the in-flight shots most interesting, while the funeral pictures remind us how dangerous ground attack duties (or even training) could be. This photo album provides us with a good pictorial guide to the life of a Luftwaffe crewman in the air and on the ground.

1 - Portraits
2 - Training
3 - Czechoslovakia
4 - In Flight
5 - Snow and Ice
6 - Funerals
7 - Leave

Author: Alistair Smith
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 112
Publisher: Pen & Sword Aviation
Year: 2012

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