Book Review
Aces of JG 3 Udet
Aces of Jagdgeschwader 3 ‘Udet’ Aircraft of the Aces 116
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Aces of Jagdgeschwader 3 ‘Udet’
Series & Nr.: Aircraft of the Aces 116
Author & Illustrator: John Weal
Formats: Paperback; PDF; ePub
Length: 96 pages
ISBN: 9781780962986

Aces of Jagdgeschwader 3 ‘Udet’ is the 116th title in Osprey's popular Aircraft of the Aces series. This book chronicles the history of JG 3 aces throughout the war. Including a brief foray over the Mediterranean JG 3 fought in every major campaign except over Poland and Norway. Following the suicide of Ernst Udet in 1941, crocodile-teared Nazi hierarchy designated JG 3 "Udet" in his honor. Udet pilots downed thousands of enemy aircraft and it's Experten included some 70 Knights Cross recipients. Two dozen pilots accounted for almost 1,200 kills! Many of the Luftwaffe Jagdflieger "top guns" flew with JG 3 including Colonel Günther Lützow (leader in the "Fighter Pilots Revolt"), Heinz "Pritzl" Bär, Walter "Gulle" Oesau, Gordon Gollob, and JG 3 top-gun Ltn Joachim Kirschner, et al..

JG 3 pilots carved swaths through Allied formations, especially over Russia where, on the opening day of the Battle of Kursk, they downed an incredible 121 VVS (Red Air Force) planes! Before that feat, at Stalingrad, JG 3 volunteers rotated in and out of a special airbase defense flight, Platzschutzstaffel Pitomnik, to guard the aerial lifeline into the city. Udet tested and then formed the Sturmböcke, IV./JG 3, of heavily armed and armored Focke-Wulf 190s to specialize taking down American heavy bombers.

Author John Weal is an acclaimed Luftwaffe authority and has penned many titles on Luftwaffe history. He uses his voluminous knowledge and resources to present the history of JG 3 through nine chapters in 96 pages:
    * A slow start
    * Battle of Britain and after
    * Barbarossa - an abundance of aces
    * Mediterranean interlude
    * Growing Soviet resistance
    * Defence of the Reich
    * Normandy bloodbath
    * Retreat and defeat
    * Appendices

If you are looking for aerial hack-and-slash stories, this is not the book for you. It is a unit history focusing on the pilots who slew five or more aircraft - not a recollection of how they did it. Mr. Weal has pieced together an easily followed, very detailed almost day to day account of JG 3. The events of the Jagdgeschwader are recounted per separate Gruppen and often by individual Staffeln. Within these the exploits of pilots are presented. For many pilots micro biographies are written, as well as interesting trivia concerning personal markings. The closest to a description of a dogfight is usually little more than 'Leutnant Wolf Ettel reached triple figures 24 hours later with the last of a quartet of LaGG-3s'.

Victories and losses are tallied, including the number of Gruppen and Staffeln leaders. The book makes clear the difficulty of bringing down a plane on the Western Front as opposed to over Russia, and even how during 1943 against the Red Air Force it became harder to down five - and survive.

The book is a story of scores of fighter pilots in JG 3 "Udet". Grand strategy, aircraft performance and tactics, and battle reports are not the purpose of this book. Regardless it provides a good reference for students of Jagdgeschwader 3 "Udet" and for Jagdfliegern.

Overall the book is easy to read and interesting. There are some minor typos (pg 38) and some conflicting claims (pg 48, Kirschner kills).

Photographs, arts, graphics
Modelers will find many images very useful: close-ups of camouflage patterns, victory markings, personal and unit markings, even stenciling. Some are a veritable treasure trove of Luftwaffe uniform and flight kit details. Not every page has a photograph while some pages have two or three; I didn’t count them yet suffice it to say that there are about 70-80. All are black-and-white. They range from official portraits and propaganda scenes, to personal exposures of friends, comrades, and aircraft. Therefore, quality varies. Some are high quality professional images, some had trouble with exposure or developing; many are from negatives and photo paper while some are obviously reproduced from newspapers and magazines – some even have the printing pattern reproduced.

Mr. Weal is also the artist of the book, with the exception of the cover by Mark Postlethwaite. Thirty-two full color profiles fill the center of the book. This hallmark of Osprey Aircraft of the Aces series cover JG 3 mounts from a Bf 109E-4 of May 1940, through a Bf 109K-4 and Fw 190D-9 of April 1945. These many plates show a couple of unique schemes such as an overall RLM 76 Gustav and a unique temperate-modified desert-schemed Frederich. Each profile is described in varying detail in a color plate commentary at the end of the book in an appendix.

Two other appendices sum up the martial achievements of the pilots:

Appendix 1: Decorations (Knight's Cross and Above) Awarded to Serving Members of Jagdgeschwader 3 'Udet'

Appendix 2: Aces of Jagdgeschwader 3 'Udet' (6 pages!)

Modelers, historians and enthusiasts of Jagdgeschwader 3 'Udet', Jagdfliegern, and Luftwaffe operations should find this an interesting and useful resource.

The story seems to be pieced together from many official reports and can be a bit dry, lacking first-person accounts or much in the way of direct quotes and dairy entries. But that is not what this book is meant to be. It is a unit history focused on the pilots who scored five or more kills. Still, I find this title to be an interesting journey along the war record of JG 3. Other than some typos and conflicting information, I have no real complaints and am happy to add this title to me library. I think you will, too, and thus recommend it.

Please tell Osprey and retailers that you saw this book here - on Aeroscale.
Highs: Detailed text. Thirty-two color profiles of JG 3 fighters.
Lows: Some typos and conflicting information.
Verdict: I find this title to be an interesting journey along the war record of JG 3 and am happy to add this title to me library. I think you will, too.
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: ISBN: 9781780962986
  Suggested Retail: $17.50 / £10.49
  PUBLISHED: Feb 22, 2014

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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