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Book Review
Aces of Jagdstaffel 17
Aircraft of the Aces 118
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by: Stephen T. Lawson [ JACKFLASH ]

Initially formed to assist in the defence of the hub city of Metz against French bombing raids, Kampfstaffel (Kasta) Metz developed into Royal Prussian Jagdstaffel 17. It was to go on to become one of the most distinguish German fighter units of World War I. Its first victory was scored by the “Blue Max” recipient Julius Buckler. The so called battle cry of the unit “Malaula" came from Buckler when he shot down a French pilot. The Frenchman had named his machine "Ma Lola" (My Lola) but had pronounced it like "Malaula”. During its final days the unit gained the nickname Zirkus Buckler, or the ‘Buckler Circus’. Besides Buckler, Jasta 17 boasted such aces as Karl Strasser, Alfred Fleischer and Christian Donhauser. In addition, the roster included colourful characters like the successful Jewish airman Jakob Wolff, who at over 48 years of age was the oldest German fighter pilot of the war. The story of this illustrious unit is told with many first-hand accounts by Buckler, Fleischer and others, as well as dozens of rare archival photos of the unit’s beautifully decorated fighter aircraft.

Author: Greg VanWyngarden
Illustrator: Harry Dempsey
Published: November 2013
96 pages
ISBN: 978 1 78096 718 9
Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 7.1 x 0.1 inches
Cost $22.95

Origins in Metz p.6
Air Action on the Aisne p.26
Fights over Flanders p.50
Cambrai and Beyond p.68
Final Days p.81
Appendix p.90
a. Roster of Jasta 17 Aces
b. Notes on aircraft assignments for Jasta 17 pilots
c. Colour plate commentaries

While it is generally a good book there are some anomalies with in the text. The second paragraph begins to speak of the most infamous pilot of the war and then does no mention his name? The process of writing a book seems straightforward enough. Unfortunately in this case the editing process tends to damage this manuscript more than help. The consistent errors I see in this book results from editors that have no understanding of the parlance in describing the subject matter. Fokker E III is not a military designation. Fokker E.III is. The German designation that employs the type with just a Roman numeral is a factory usage only. These never fell outside the prototypes of a give design. This fault is a consistent issue through out the book the Albatros, Pfalz and Fokker aircraft. Multiple aircraft are not to be described as “Albatros D IIs”. Adding the suffix “s” to aircraft nomenclatures is inappropriate. To be correct adding words like “types” or “airframes” is correct. For instance it should be “Albatros D.II types”. In the beginning of the book the personal identifier rings on the fuselages of their fighters is wrongly described as “striping”. But later in the book these descriptions change to “bands” or “banding”. It is almost like they figured it out and were too pressed for time to go back and fix all of the descriptions. There are also some minor typographical errors in the text.

One German historian chimed in: “On page 86 and in the color profile on page 45 in this book is a photo/ picture of the Fokker D.VII of Oblt. W. Pritsch. On the fuselage is painted the word "BOWKE". Mr. VanWyngarden thought it is a nonsense word like "Malaula". It's not a nonsense word but a kind of slang word used in former East Prussia. A "BOWKE" is/was a kind of gangster, a nasty guy or thief. In old east prussian language (the first language of my mother!) "Bowen" means "to steal". So a "Bowke" is a gangster. I think this was it what Pritsch wanted to express in the name of his airplane. "BOWKE" or "Bowen" is not pronounced as one might think as similiar as for example "bow" or "own". The "w" is spoken quite hard as the "w" in weather or waffle and the "o" as in "old" or "often". Maybe Pritsch was from East Prussia?

The dual page insets for Pp.2 – 3 can be seen on page 76 entirely, but in a smaller format. The author noted on another forum, “. . . Sadly, this discovery came too late to include a color profile of this D.Va by Harry; deadlines are deadlines. Besides, von Esebeck wasn't an "ace", and I had already included more "non-ace" profiles than some were happy with. The von Esebeck family crest appears on the fuselage, and consisted of two roses on a very dark blue field (on top) and one rose on a yellow field (on the bottom). For these colors to appear as they do, the blue must have been a very dark shade and the yellow a light, creamy shade with no red in it. Anyway, we assume that the checked band was also in blue and yellow. If you look behind the mechanic smoking his pipe by the tail, you can just make out another checked band just in between the fuselage cross and the tail.”

I picked up my copy from BookBuyers OnLine for $12.14.

When contacting manufacturers and publishers please mention you saw this review at AEROSCALE
Highs: Well researched and solid photo references.
Lows: The Osprey editing does a disservice to this manuscript.
Verdict: Getting past the lows this is a good book for anyone interested in the genre.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:1
  Mfg. ID: ISBN: 978 1 78096 718 9
  Suggested Retail: $22.95
  Related Link: webstore
  PUBLISHED: Mar 09, 2014

About Stephen T. Lawson (JackFlash)

I was building Off topic jet age kits at the age of 7. I remember building my first WWI kit way back in 1964-5 at the age of 8-9. Hundreds of 1/72 scale Revell and Airfix kits later my eyes started to change and I wanted to do more detail. With the advent of DML / Dragon and Eduard I sold off my ...

Copyright ©2021 text by Stephen T. Lawson [ JACKFLASH ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.


Wow how did I miss this one...? I just ordered it.
JUN 22, 2014 - 08:27 AM

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