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Book Review
Fw 200 Condor Units
Fw 200 Condor Units of World War 2
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Fw 200 Condor Units of World War 2 is the 115th title in the series Combat Aircraft from Osprey Publishing, LTD. It is catalogued as ISBN 9781472812674 and by Osprey as COM 115. The book is authored by Chris Goss and illustrated by Chris Davey. Osprey offers the book in three formats: Paperback; eBook; eBook (PDF).

Focke-Wulf's sleek Condor helped prove trans-Atlantic air travel by land-based aircraft. The elegant long-legged four-engine airliner was quickly militarized for the Luftwaffe and became a feared bird of ill omen over Allied ships, ranging from Greenland to Africa on armed reconnaissance missions. Condors not only spotted and signaled for U-Boats, the big Fw 200 also made bombing attacks ranging from skip-bombing to high-altitude level attacks. So dangerous was the Fw 200 that the British took desperate measures to counter them, including one-way trip Hurricanes launched from catapults against the Fw 200, then expected to ditch in the deadly cold Atlantic. Prime Minister Churchill dubbed the Condor "The Scourge of the Atlantic."
    The Fw 200 Condor first made an appearance over Norway in April 1940, flying with the unit that eventually become synonymous with it - Kampfgeschwader 40. As the war in the west progressed, and German forces advanced, French airfields opened up, allowing the Condor to fly around the UK and out into the Atlantic, where it rapidly established itself as one of the key menaces to Allied shipping. Able to attack shipping directly, or able to guide U-Boats to their prey the Condor scored its first major success when it crippled the liner Empress of Great Britain.
    But the tables were to turn on the 'Scourge of the Atlantic' as mechanical failures induced by their harsh operating environment and changes in Allied tactics began to take a toll. Vulnerable to aerial attack, the deployment of Allied carriers and their associated fighters combined with the introduction of more long range maritime patrol aircraft exposed the Condor's deficiencies. Packed with rare first-hand accounts, profile artwork and photographs, this is the history of one of the unsung types to take to the skies during World War 2.
    - Osprey

Fw 200 Condor Units of World War 2 is recounted in 96 pages through five chapters:
    To war
    1941 - Battle of the Atlantic begins
    1942 - Changes
    1943 - Beginning of the end
    1944 - Nowhere to hide
      Color plates commentary

Author Goss kept my attention with his writing style and I finished the book in only three sittings. He includes a good amount of technical detail as well as accounting for aircraft identifies, including serial numbers, and identifies air crews. Several pilots or crew members receive a brief overview of their careers. For the "gee-whiz'-minded, he even includes aircraft production rates for some periods. Additionally, he includes kills for known aircraft and crews.

Mr. Goss begins the nine-page chapter To war with a brief overview of the first Condors and how the Atlantic scourge was prompted by a militarized version ordered by Japan. The story process with the Fw 200's combat debuted. One excerpt is by Flg Off Grant-Ede of No 263, first aerial victor over a Condor, concerning his first encounter with the Fw 200 off Norway;
    Enemy aircraft dived to sea level and escaped seawards due to superior speed.

Although Grant-Ede shot down the first Condor to be lost to aircraft an hour later, it was obvious the Condor would be a difficult foe. Happily, there are many personal accounts from Condor engagements; sadly, few are by Germans. 1941 - Battle of the Atlantic begins brings 21 pages of very interesting history of the role the Condor became famous for, including aerial dogfights with English convoy escorts. The book looks at the British defenses including the Type E System, which fired a rocket-propelled bomb attached to a cable into the path of the Fw 200, in hopes of snagging and blowing up the big bird. Two photos show a Condor and crew that towed a Type E back to base as an UXO. Several more air-to-air accounts by Allied fliers describe engaging Condors. The chapter closes with Condor operations over the Mediterranean.

The next 35 pages of Changes and 1943 - Beginning of the end describe the increasing plight of the Condor force against improving Allied defenses, with resulting changes in tactics. While not so much an answer to their vulnerability, a "massed" Condor attacks of up to 11 aircraft is revealed. It also recounts the Condor's role at Stalingrad and in the first USAAF aerial kill of the war against against Germany, when a Condor provoked Iceland-based P-39s and was splashed into Reykjavik Bay. These chapters reveal that the Condor was loosing its effectiveness although the four-engine Focke-Wulf showed what it could still do when Condors wiped out the convoy "Faith" in July, 1943.

1944 - Nowhere to hide is the swan song of the Fw 200. Roving fighter patrols, increased bombing or ground forces overrunning of Condor nests, and carrier-based air cover effectively ended the threat of the Fw 200. Yet the machine was still used to support German outposts from the arctic to the Mediterranean. A series of Condor flights to a Nazi-held Greek island was noted and sparked increased air attacks; the purpose of those flights is unknown but speculated as a plot to guide-bomb the Suez Canal.

In the end, surviving Condors were captured and some evaluated by the Allies, including some Condor transports of the Nazi hierarchy. The book concludes with a summary of the Condor's legend and mention of surviving aircraft.

German guided bombs, the FX1400 (‘Fritz-X’) and Henschel's Hs 293 are touched upon. The text is very good and highly informative. The minor typo or two does not detract from the value of the information.

Photos, Art and Graphics
Artist Chris Davey enhances the text with 22 color profiles of Condors. These range from blase green and blue sky scavengers to menacing machines in fascinating German camouflage, colorful theater markings, and captured Condors in enemy markings. Each includes a commentary at the end of the book.

A gallery of excellent photographs support the text. Portraits of airmen as well as views of Condors. There are also many exposures of enemy ships under attack, plus many shots of Condors suffering varying degrees of destruction. Demonstrated damage is both from enemy action and due to the Condor's Achilles heel - it was never meant to carry a combat load at low altitude and was structurally weak. Photographic quality varies between grainy gun camera stills, to studio quality portraits.

Graphics include several tables:

1a. Fw 200 Condor Units - Senior Executive Officers

1b. KG 40 Related Units

1c. Other Units

2. I., III. and IV./KG 40 Ritterkreuz Holders

3. Aircrew awarded the Deutsches Kreuz in Gold While With I. and III./KG 40

4. I./KG 40 Shipping Claims 10 July to 31 October 1940.

5. Fw 200s Used By Fliegerstaffel Des Furhers (FdF).

6. Standard Fw 200C Military Variants (Umrustsatze).

7. Condor Attack Profile.

The valuable text is reinforced by the wonderful photographic and graphic support.

Fw 200 Condor Units of World War 2 is a great story about the main four-engine bomber of the Luftwaffe, the legendary Fw 200 Condor. Personal narratives enhance the detailed text. It is well written and engaging. A gallery of excellent photographs support the text, as does the color artwork and useful tables of data.

The minor typos do not detract from the value of the text.

Revell's Condor was one of the first models I ever built, and the Fw 200 legend has been a fascination of mine ever since. Thus, I am personally very happy with this book and enthusiastically recommend it to Fw 200 Condor modelers, historians, artists and enthusiasts.

Please remember to tell vendors and retailers that you saw this book here - on AEROSCALE.
Highs: Detailed text with first-hand accounts. Excellent photographic and art support.
Lows: De minimis.
Verdict: I am personally very happy with this book and enthusiastically recommend it to Fw 200 Condor modelers, historians, artists and enthusiasts.
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: 9781472812674
  Suggested Retail: $23, 13.99GBP, 26.95CAN
  PUBLISHED: Oct 01, 2016

Our Thanks to Osprey Publishing!
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About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)

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...

Copyright ©2021 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. 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.


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