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Book Review
Luftwaffe Emergency Fighters
Luftwaffe Emergency Fighters, X Planes
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Luftwaffe Emergency Fighters from Osprey Publishing LTD is the fourth book in the new series X-Planes. While it is not specifically a modeling book, it covers a subject near and dear to many modeler's heart, experimental and concept aircraft known as "Luftwaffe '46" and "Paper Projects". (Indeed, a series of 12 volumes of original artwork for Luftwaffe '46 was created by Peter Allen [FLITZER] and is available through Luft 46 Colour or Click here for additional images for this review, at the end of this review.) This book explores six revolutionary Luftwaffe fighters intended to use jet power and swept wings, and some armed with guided missiles. Some of them advanced beyond "paper projects".

Authored by Robert Forsyth the book is catalogued as IBSN 9781472819949 with Osprey's short code XPL 4.
    In late 1944, the German Air Ministry organised what it called an ‘Emergency Fighter Competition' intended to produce designs for quick-to-build yet technically and tactically effective jet fighter aircraft capable of tackling the anticipated arrival of the B-29 Superfortress over Europe, as well as the British Mosquito and US P-38 Lightning which were appearing in ever greater numbers.

    Thus was born a cutting-edge, highly sophisticated series of aircraft including the futuristic and elegant Focke-Wulf Ta 183; the extraordinary Blohm und Voss P.212, and the state-of-the-art Messerschmitt P.1101 series. Armed with heavy cannon and the latest air-to-air rockets and missiles, these were designed to inflict carnage on American bomber formations at high speed. Using stunning three-view illustrations of each prototype along with full colour artwork, aviation expert Robert Forsyth traces the history of the extraordinary aircraft of the ‘Emergency Fighter Competition', Hitler's last throw of the dice in the air war against the Allies.
    - Osprey

The book is 88 pages of content, wartime photographs, and original artwork that narrates the story of these cutting edge projects meant to stop the Allies.

    Throughout the last century, one-off experimental aircraft and high-tech military prototypes have pushed the boundaries of what's possible. Authoritative and accessible, X-Planes explains the technology behind the world's most important experimental and prototype aircraft, their often dangerous flight-test careers, and how their successes and failures fed into frontline development. - Osprey

Luftwaffe Emergency Fighters is 88 pages of content in 11 chapters and supporting sections:
    1. The Luftwaffe At War
    2. Power and Form
    3. The Emergency Fighter Programme
    4. Blohm & Voss BV P.212.03
    5. Focke-Wulf Projekt 'Huckebein'
    6. Heinkel P.1087C
    7. Junkers EF 128
    8. Messerschmitt P.1101
    9. Henschel Hs P.135
    10. Assessment and Decision
    11. A Legacy of Design


Osprey's X Planes series is well researched and written although focusing on and explaining cutting-edge technology can be challenging to present. Author Robert Forsyth explains the technical aspects sufficiently and also offers a great deal of German technical titles and terminology, which I enjoy reading about.

Twenty-three interesting pages sets the foundation of this book. The first chapter The Luftwaffe At War presents an overview of the dire state of Nazi Germany's military situation that led to the Emergency Fighter Programme. Power and Form introduces Germany's Strahltriebwerk (jet engine) projects and the powerplant the emergency fighter concept was based upon, the Heinkel-Hirth HeS 011 ('HeS' - Heinkel Strahltriebwerk). Swept back wings were also a key feature and that aerodynamic concept is also discussed, as are Mach numbers. Other technological features are touched upon: Avionics; armor protection; radios and IFF; materials and construction processes; assessments of design foibles and fortes, i.e., how wingtip anhedral could degrade turn handling; torsion of wing structures.

Further enhancing the text are quotes from those involved with the projects, such as this commentary by Kurt Tank of Focke-Wulf;
    The minimizing of the drag area of the aircraft in the domain of small Mach numbers, which normally is the alpha and omega of all performance increases from the aerodynamic point of view, is only of secondary importance. This can be seen when we plot the thrust delivered by the engine divided by stagnation pressure verses Mach number.

The Emergency Fighter Programme introduces Oberstleutnant Seigfried Knemeyer, who guided the program. The chapter mentions Allied jet aircraft projects and Luftwaffe concerns that the Boeing B-29 Superfortress would soon arrive over Germany. The task confronting Knemeyer can be sensed when we learn of the chaos resulting from the six aircraft companies calculating performance differently, all adamant that their way was the best and refusing to cede methodology to another design bureau.

Modelers and historians who have wondered about how far along these projects progressed should find interesting specific dates assigned for actual flight testing to begin, and scheduled dates for delivery of specific aircraft.

Thirty-eight pages describe the six Emergency Fighter designs: Blohm & Voss BV P.212; Heinkel P.1087C; Junkers EF 128; Messerschmitt P.1101; Focke-Wulf Ta 183; Henschel Hs P.135. The chapter about the Blohm & Voss BV P.212 includes an examination of the 55mm R4M air-to-air rocket system and the 30mm Mk 108 cannon. Cannon shell types and capabilities are discussed along with Luftwaffe calculations of their effectiveness against Allied heavy bombers. Focke-Wulf's Ta 183 is a favorite design even today. Its chapter included detailed information about the Ruhrstahl X4 guided air-to-air missile. While the chapters about the Heinkel P.1087C, Junkers EF 128, and Henschel Hs P.135 are not the longest, they each demonstrate unique approaches to the early swept-wing jet fighter designs.

Messerschmitt's P.1101 came the closest to production and, indeed, did fly, albeit after being reworked by Bell Aircraft Company. In Assessment and Decision and A Legacy of Design the fates of the German designers and engineers, the aircraft and their influence in post-war Allied and Soviet designs is discussed in fascinating detail. Some spent years with the RAE or what became NASA. The book presents thought-provoking speculation such as how much de Havilland's DH 108 Swallow owed to the Junkers EF 128? Messerschmidt's P.1101 came to America and the design became an X-plane, the Bell X-5.

Perhaps the most successful design to actually go operational was the Ta 183. Tank immigrated to Argentina and many of his loyalists followed him there. South America's first swept-wing jet was Argentina's Ta 183 inspired FMA IAe 33 Pulqui II. The book explores the extent to which the MiG-15 was influenced by the Ta 183, and how Western Europe's first operational swept-wing jet design, the Saab 29, bore an uncanny resemblance to that Focke-Wulf design.

Photographs, Art, Graphics
Since the fall of the Iron Curtain a cornucopia of data and images have been surfacing. This book is full of incredible wartime photographs and graphics.

Many of the photos are not studio quality and yet many are. Many factory photos of their creations are reproduced herein. A series of three expertly exposed photos show a gathering of Luftwaffe, RLM, and Focke-Wulf personnel watching a model Ta 183 launch is particularly interesting.

    Inside the Focke-Wulf Ta 183 Ra-4: cut-away artwork

    Focke-Wulf Ta 183 Ra-4: Underwing armament: R4M rockets and X4 guided missile

    Focke-Wulf Ta 183 Ra-4 Schnellbomber of I./KG 51

    3-view Heinkel He 1078C of I./JG 400

    3-view Junkers EF 128, II./JG 400

    Messerschmitt P.1101 V1 as seen after capture

    Henschel Hs P.135 of Geschwaderkommodore JG 3

    3-view Blohm & Voss BV P.212.03

    Combat scene Defense of the Reich: Ta 183s of I./JG 1 climb to attack B-17s with Ruhrstahl X4 missiles.

Scores of black-and-white technical illustrations by German firms and Allied air technical and intelligence units fill the book. Dozens of those images of the Ta 183 enhance the text.
    The X4: British Air Technical Intelligence drawing of the weapon

    Table: X4 Specifications

    P.1101, Messerschmitt company technical drawings

    The six war emergency fighters compared with 19 characteristics

    HeS 011 A Specification with 16 lines of characteristics

    The Swept Wing

Luftwaffe Emergency Fighters is an interesting presentation of the first swept-wing jet fighter designs of World War Two. While it is not specifically a modeling book, it covers a subject near and dear to many modeler's heart, experimental and concept aircraft known as "Luftwaffe '46" and "Paper Projects". Students of Luftwaffe '46 and Luftwaffe paper projects should find this a solid introduction to the subject. I think that the author presents the subject matter in a good combination of technical data and ease of reading. The fine research and detailed text is fortified with intriguing artwork and photographs.

I have no real complaints about this book and recommend it.

Click here for additional images for this review.

Highs: Intriguing artwork and photographs. Great research and detailed text.
Lows: De minimis.
Verdict: Students of Luftwaffe '46 and Luftwaffe paper projects should find this a solid introduction to the subject. While it is not specifically a modeling book, it covers a subject near and dear to many modeler's heart.
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: 9781472819949
  Related Link: Luft 46 Colour
  PUBLISHED: Nov 03, 2017

Our Thanks to Osprey Publishing!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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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 ©2020 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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