Luftwaffe Viermot Aces 1942-45
Aircraft of the Aces 101
Author: Robert Forsyth
Artist: Jim Laurier
Hitler’s daylight Jagdwaffe reaped a bitter toll of Allied aircraft and, day or night, the mighty four-engine heavy bombers suffered accordingly. While loses on both sides were grim and Defense of the Reich pilots never amassed the astronomic scores of their comrades on the Eastern Front, many of them racked up amazing numbers of kills over the tough bombers bristling with heavy machine guns.
This new title compliments several other Osprey books about aces of specific aircraft and Defense of the Reich aces.
Downing a four-engine bomber, a "Viermot", was no easy feat. The big airframes could absorb a lot of lead, they bristled with many defensive machine guns that could spray a lot of lead, and baring too much damage they could fly on one or two engines. The first Viermot bombers were Short Sterlings that appeared in 1942. Ironically, they were misidentified by the Jagdfliegern as Boeings, and a few months later the Boeings were misidentified as Sterlings.
The first credited kills against each were a Sterling by Lt. Ulrich Adriau of I./JG 2 on 23 May 1941, and a B-17 by Hpt. Karl-Heinz Meyer, Kommandeur II./JG 26 on 6 September 1942. While the early battles were inconclusive, the stage was quickly set for a bitter fight above Hitler’s Festung Europa. His Jagdfliegern reaped a bitter toll of Allied aircraft and the mighty four-engine heavy bombers were not spared. While loses on both sides were grim and Defense of the Reich pilots never amassed the astronomic scores of their comrades on the Eastern Front, many of them racked up amazing numbers of kills against the tough bombers bristling with heavy machine guns. When the escort fighters appeared, things became even more desperate for the Jagdfliegern.
At first the advantage seemed to favor the tight formation of heavily armed bombers. Adolf Galland and others acknowledged the psychological barrier the Jagdfliegern had to overcome before wading into the storm of defensive fire. Said Oberstleutnant Gustav Rödel, who survived the war with 98 kills including 12 Viermots: I flew and survived more than 1000 missions, but attacking the four-engine bombers flying in formation still remains a nightmare in my memory…. There seems to be a constant amongst the Jagdfliegern who survived the war -- wounds that kept them out of action for months.
Survivors of bomber interceptions assessed their attacks and soon worked out tactics that improved their success. Egon Mayer is considered to have perfected the devastating head-on attack. They bolted more and bigger guns to their fighters. They lobbed 21cm rockets into the formations. They flew twin-engine fighters armed with modified anti-tank guns. They armored their aircraft against the .50 caliber defensive barrages until some Focke-Wulfs were virtual flying tanks. And a new breed of Jagdflieger Experten emerged, the Viermot aces. They even paid homage to their First World War predecessors by inflicting another 'Bloody April' in 1944.
Some 25 Jagdfliegern were credited with 20 or more Viermots, pilots such as Heinz Bär, Anton Hackl, Hans Weik, Alwin Doppler, Walter Dahl, Egon Mayer, et al. More than 80 had between 10 and 20 Viermots. Several had multiple-kill sorties against the bombers. And several continued to rack up success even against increasing numbers of superior escort fighters, and decreasing amounts of fuel.
Author Robert Forsyth brings us the fascinating stories of the Jagdfliegern who made ace against the big daylight bombers. Nightfighter aces are not within the scope of this work. Mr. Forsyth must have a vast resource to select material from. This book is a very detailed overview although not as detailed as a work on an individual pilot or Jagdgruppe would be. As a source of ‘highlights’ with supportive information, this is a fine book. It is fortified with individual statements, quotes, notes and letters, interviews, and excerpts from newspapers and official documents. Tactics, doctrine, and observations are discussed, such as 8th Air Force noting that the introduction of nose turrets did not seem to discourage frontal attacks. These combine to create a good technical, archival, and personal presentation. The concise text is well written and easy to read.
While Nachtjagdfliegern are not part of this title, Zerstorer pilots of Me 110, Me 210, and Me 410 are included; some made ace against the bombers. And of course those who downed five or more Viermots in the ME 262 jet.
Luftwaffe Viermot Aces 1942-45 is brought to you through 96 pages of seven chapters, an appendices, index, and color plates:
2. Cornered Wolf
3. ‘Big Week’ and Berlin
4. Bloody April
5. ‘Stovepipes’ and Destroyers
6. All-out Defence
- Colour Plates Commentary
In the appendices is a list of Viermot killers. Those with 20 or more are listed by name, bomber kills and total kills.
Photographs and Artwork
Artist Jim Laurier created another 31 color plates for Luftwaffe Viermot Aces. These begin with Major Walter Oesau’s Bf 109F of April 1942 and end with a ME 262 of JG 7. Messerschmitt 109s and Zerstorern, Focke-Wulf 190s, and jets are included. I was struck by some of the markings shown, i.e., a thin yellow accent along the edge of the stylized eagle behind the cowl of a JG 3 Fw 190. Another Fw profile is remarkable in that it could be in black and white -- gray camouflage, black and white national and unit markings. Even the RLM 76 underside is mainly gray.
Usually the high point of an Osprey title for me is the artwork. In this title it is the selection of the dozens of black and white photographs. While many are formal portraits of pilots and familiar images, once again I am happy to find new photographs of aircraft, on the ground and in the air. One is of a B-17 that made it home after being hit with a 21 cm mortar round right behind the pilot! Also, several shots of Viermot aces Egon Mayer and Heinz Bär inspecting a downed bomber. The diorama inspiration of these many photos for modelers is enormous. Picture quality ranges from amateurish to portrait quality. Several images are frames taken from gun camera footage. Two facsimile of bomber firepower vs. fighters taken from The Defeat of the German Air Force is included.
No maps are included, nor are there any scale plans as mentioned on the back cover.
This is a comprehensive history of the Luftwaffe’s aces against daylight heavy bombers. Mr. Forsyth uses his knowledge and resources to bring you this authoritative work. It is well written and easy to read, packing a good amount of information and detail. While there are neither maps nor scale plans, the artwork is excellent, as is the photographic support. Modelers and historians alike should find this a worthwhile addition to any collection. Definitely recommended.
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Highs: It is well written and easy to read, packing a good amount of information and detail. Excellent artwork and photographic support. Lows: There are neither maps nor scale plans of aircraft.Verdict: Modelers and historians alike should find this a worthwhile addition to any collection.
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About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR) FROM: TENNESSEE, UNITED STATES
I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art.
My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling!
My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...