has sent me another of their books to review. This time around it is a book covering the life of Gerhard Barkhorn, Germany’s second highest scoring ace of World War Two. This book is written in a similar style to ‘Photographs by Soldiers - Als Panzermann in Afrika und Italien 1942 – 45 Panzer regiment 8 und schwere Panzer- Abt 508’, A book that I enjoyed greatly. A link to a review of that title is at the end of this review.
At the very start you need to be aware that this book is dual language, written in German and English. Please don't let that fact deter you from this book as the contents will capture your attention. This particularly book is written in the form of a biography, but at the same time a pictorial biography.
The book covers the life of Gerhard Barkhorn from his birth on the 20th March 1919 through to his untimely death on the 11th January 1983 due to a traffic accident. The book is made up of 207 pages, each of the pages being a good quality glossy paper, that hard cover is also of a good quality. The only oddity is that the dust cover is double thickness and this has caused some rippling in it.
The book begins with a short introduction from both the author Bernd Barbas and the publisher Axel Urbanke. After these introductions the life story of Gerhard Barkhorn gets underway proper with a small piece on the Barkhorn family as a whole and Gerhard’s flight training. On the day that Gerhard Barkhorn started his final phase of training, he learnt of the invasion of Poland.
Gerhard Barkhorn flew various types of the Bf 109 for the most part during the war, with his first flights as part of a unit beginning on the 10th of January 1940. Gerhard Barkhorn saw service in many locations during World War II, but most of his service was with JG 52 and predominantly on the Eastern Front. In January 1945 with a tally of 301 enemy aircraft having fallen to his guns, he was transferred to Jagdgeschwader 6 in command. Jagdgeschwader 6 had a mix of Bf 109’s and Fw 190’s, Gerhard Barkhorn did not record any further kills with this unit, and it is believed that after four years at the front he was simply mentally exhausted.
At some point in March of 1945 after the 23rd he left Jagdgeschwader 6 and made is way to a fighter pilots rest home in Bad Wiessee in Southern Germany. He did not stay there long, as at some point after April 1st he joined Jagdverband 44 and began training on the Me 262 There is only one recorded flight by Gerhard Barkhorn in the Me 262 and that ended due to engine trouble or being jumped by Mustangs, choose your poison, either way it would appear to be the last flight made by Gerhard Barkhorn and World War II finished for him on the 4th of May when the US Army captured the airfield. There ends the story, or does it?
Gerhard Barkhorn was released from the POW camp he was in on the 3rd September 1945, he returned home to his wife and looked for any work that was available, spending 11 years doing any work that was available until approached about joining the Bundeswehr, which he did in 1956 and served till 1979. On the 6th Jan 1983 Gerhard Barkhorn was involved in traffic accident, his wife Christine was killed instantly and Gerhard and a friend were severely injured. His friend died of his injuries on the 8th Jan, Gerhard asked a doctor about his wife and was told she had died, Gerhard slipped into a coma and died on the 11th Sep 1983.
The pictures in this publication provide a wealth of detail about all facets of the German Luftwaffe, and offer the diorama fans a lot of food for thought. Some of the pictures in this title are I believe the sharpest and clearest pictures I have seen covering World War II, with some stunning colour photographs being the icing on the cake. All of the aircraft flown by Gerhard Barkhorn have been represented where possible by artist’s drawings in side view.
The death of Gerhard Barkhorn, I believe means this book had to be written in a style other than intended, despite this the book is a great read and look into the life of a fighter pilot during the dark days of World War II. I do wish that the book could have been written the way I feel the author intended had Gerhard not been killed; however Bernd Barbas has done a great job of bring this man’s life to the reader.
Als Panzermann in Afrika und Italien 1942 – 45 Panzer regiment 8 und schwere Panzer- Abt 508
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE