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Luftwaffe Colours - Sea Eagles Vol. 1

Luftwaffe Anti-Shipping Units

by Chris Goss


Classic Publications


S u m m a r y

Publisher and Details: Classic Publications
Luftwaffe Colours - Sea Eagles Vol. 1
Luftwaffe Anti-Shipping Units 1939-1941
by Chris Goss
ISBN: 1-903223-55-5
Media: Soft cover, 96 pages plus covers, over 150 photos in colour and black and white, and 14 colour profiles.
Price: Available world wide from Ian Allen Publishing's website.  Available in the US from Squadron Mail Order - USD$26.96.
Review Type: First Read
Advantages: Excellent overview of an area of Luftwaffe operations that has been previously neglected.
Recommendation: Highly Recommended


Reviewed by Steven "Modeldad" Eisenman

Luftwaffe Anti-Shipping Units 1939-1941
available online from Squadron.com




The Luftwaffe Colours series from Ian Allen / Classic Publication marches on determinedly with the first of a two part account of the Luftwaffe’s anti-shipping operations.  The style and format does not differ much from the other volumes in this excellent series; which now includes the 20 volume Jagdwaffe series, the four volume Bombers of the Luftwaffe and a couple of new subjects.
Chris Goss presents a historical narrative of an aspect of Luftwaffe operations for which both ownership and purpose were not clear at the outset of the war. Before the outbreak of war, maritime aircraft were the province of the Kriegsmarine.  With their outdated aircraft, maritime units were to act defensively as the eyes of the fleet.
However, there were those who envisioned that maritime units could play an offensive bombing role. With this proposed change in tactics, the Luftwaffe sought to take into its structure such offensive maritime operations.  Göring made it quite clear to Admiral Raeder that future aircraft, which were to be used in an offensive maritime role, were to be assigned to the Luftwaffe.
It was not just the issue of who was to control maritime aircraft units that affected their early development.  The torpedoes in use at the outset of the war were quite unreliable, and were used in conjunction with slow moving aircraft.  The Luftwaffe’s development of its own torpedo aircraft was also slow to develop.  Traditional aerial bombing was the norm.  Transition to the use of torpedoes with Luftwaffe bombers was awkward. Even the development of the Ju 88 as a torpedo bomber was delayed, due to it being subject to a “Fuhrer only decision”.
In addition to a straight historical narrative, the author also interweaves personal accounts of Luftwaffe pilots engaged in anti-shipping operations.  There is a most interesting account by a Stuka pilot of dive-bombing a convoy in the Channel while having to contend with RAF fighters.
There is also a bit of black humor resulting from the confusion of war. Claims of ships being sunk sometimes did not coincide with reality, especially given the unreliability of early torpedoes.  It appears that an Italian naval unit did not fair very well against His Majesty’s ships that the Luftwaffe reported as “incapacitated”.
As with other volumes in the Luftwaffe Colour series, the pictures and captions constitute a significant part of the information in the monograph.  This new volume will not disappoint in that regard, as there are an abundance of both previously seen and new pictures.
But, as is to be expected, there is a certain amount of potential controversy over the colour references and interpretation of black and white pictures.  Mr. Goss indicates that RLM 63 was similar in colour to RLM 02, but other writers have taken a somewhat different position.  And looking at some of the pictures of allegedly RLM 02 aircraft, they look quite pale, perhaps too pale in colour.
There is an excellent picture of an apparently factory fresh Fw 200 Condor.  While all the other pictures of the Fw 200 in this monograph show a low contrast scheme of the standard colours of RLM 72 and RLM 73, this one seems to show a high contrast between the two topside colours. The caption does not mention the camouflage scheme at all.  By the way, could you imagine the Fw 200 as a torpedo aircraft?  Well it seems someone in Germany did.
This first volume concludes with two things that would have a significant impact on Luftwaffe anti-shipping operations - the entrance of the United States into the war, and the development and use of escort carries by the British.





It is about time we had an accessible account of the maritime units and anti-shipping operations of the Lufftwaffe.  This new monograph is a most welcome addition.  I look forward to the second volume.  Hopefully we will be provided a good deal of information on the Ju 88s in the Mediterranean and the Bay of Biscay, for they make unusual and interesting modeling subjects.
One final thought.  With each new volume in the series I’m always amazed at the number of authors and researchers involved in research on the Luftwaffe and the commitment of one publishing house to producing such an excellent series.  What amazes me most, however, is the absence of such depth of knowledge, writings and commitment when it comes to the United State Army Air Force.  Just imagine what such a series would be like if it were equivalent to the Jagdwaffe series: a twenty volume set on USAAF fighters from 1919 to 1945, amazing. Oh well!

Highly Recommended

Thanks to Simon from DLS Publishing and to Ian Allen Publishing for the review sample

Review Copyright © 2006 by Steven "Modeldad" Eisenman
This Page Created on 08 March, 2006
Last updated 07 March, 2006

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