Book Review
Duel Under the Stars
Duel Under the Stars - The Memoir Of A Luftwaffe Night Pilot In World War II by Wilhelm Johnen
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by: Fay Baker [ AWESOME_ODP ]


Duel under the Stars by Wilhelm Johnen has been sent to me for review by Pen and Sword. Wilhelm Johnen was one of the most highly decorated Luftwaffe night-fighter pilots who had more than 30 plus aerial kills to his name; this is a personal memoir containing all of his experiences throughout the War.

This is the following introduction from the Pen and Sword website,
In this enthralling memoir, the author recounts his experiences of the war years and traces the story of the ace fighter pilots from the German development of radar to the Battle of Britain.

Johnen flew his first operational mission in July 1941, having completed his blind-flying training. In his first couple of years he brought down two enemy planes. The tally went up rapidly once the air war was escalated in spring 1943, when Air Marshal Arthur Harris of the RAF Bomber Command began the campaign dubbed the Battle of the Ruhr.

During this phrase of the war Johnenís successes were achieved against a 710-strong force of bombers. Johnenís further successes during Harrisís subsequent Berlin offensive led to his promotion as Staffelkapitan (squadron leader) of Nachtjagdgeschwader and a move to Mainz. During a sortie from there, his Bf 110 was hit by return fire and he was forced to land in Switzerland. He and his crew were interned by the authorities. The Germans were deeply worried about leaving a sophisticatedly equipped night fighter and its important air crew in the hands of a foreign government, even if it was a neutral one. After negotiations involving GŲring, the prisoners were released.

Johnenís unit moved to Hungary and by October 1944 his score was standing at 33 aerial kills. His final one came in March the following year, once Johnen had moved back to Germany.


Duel under the Stars is the Personal Memoir of Wilhem Johnen with a foreword provided by James Holland. This hardback book contains 320 high grade matt/satin pages, with lots of interesting personal photographs to give your imagination an image to follow through the memoir. This book is being retailed for £19.99 and is jam packed full of interesting material.

This memoir contains 19 chapters which are as followed;
Chapter 1 The First Kill By Night
Chapter 2 Schleswig Days
Chapter 3 Operational Flight
Chapter 4 Triumph and Disaster
Chapter 5 Recovery
Chapter 6 The Landslide Begins
Chapter 7 The Calm Before the Storm
Chapter 8 The Tinfoil Enemy
Chapter 9 Fighter Control
Chapter 10 The Allied Armadas
Chapter 11 The Defence of Berlin
Chapter 12 Air Acrobat
Chapter 13 The Jet Fighter
Chapter 14 Swiss Interlude
Chapter 15 Mitchells Against Us
Chapter 16 My Own Command
Chapter 17 Station Hayrick
Chapter 18 Achtung! Mosquito!
Chapter 19 The Last Order

I think this book has a superb layout with a decent size font, that you donít have to scowl to read and you can easily follow the book through. It contains 126 high grade pictures to help guide you through the memoir with both Allied and Axis forces aircraft included, which I personally think adds another layer to the experience.

Memoirs always interest me as I think there is nothing better than meeting a Veteran and hearing/reading their personal experiences regardless of whether they were Allied or Axis. Wilhelm Johnen is no exception and I havenít been able to put this book down.

What I really like about this book is that if the Author believes someone might not know what a certain word is, they provide the explanation at the bottom of the page in small print for future reference and apart from the Foreword, the actual book is just Wilhelm on his own. No interference from anyone else.


I highly recommend Duel under the Stars by Wilhem Johnen, some might gasp at the £19.99 price tag for the book but you get a lot of material and knowledge that makes it all worth while. I believe that we need to hear both sides of the story and this book is just incredible. As James Holland put it, ĎA fine account not of a Nazi automaton but of a young pilot whose fears, anxieties, triumphs and pain are as every bit as human as of those he was fighting against.í
Fay Baker takes a look at WW2 through the words of someone who was there. This offering from Pen and Sword is titled 'Duel Under the Stars - The Memoir Of A Luftwaffe Night Pilot In World War II by Wilhelm Johnen'.
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: ISBN 9781784382582
  Suggested Retail: £19.99
  PUBLISHED: Apr 30, 2020

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About Fay Baker (Awesome_ODP)

Copyright ©2021 text by Fay Baker [ AWESOME_ODP ]. 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.