Luftwaffe Emergency Fighters

Published: June 24th, 2017     
Product Image
Front cover
Author: Robert Forsyth
Reviewed by: 
Frank Landrus, IPMS# 35035
Company: Osprey Publishing
ISBN #: 978-14728-1994-9
E-Book ISBN #: 1472819942
Other Publication Information: Illustrators: Jim Laurier, Wiek Luijken; Soft Cover, 7.2” x 9.6”, 88 pages
Price: $20.00
Product / Stock #: X-Planes 4

Robert Forsyth, born in Berkshire, England, has studied the history and operations of the Luftwaffe since his school days. Based in East Sussex with his wife, he runs an aviation and military publishing business full-time. He has written articles for the magazines Aeroplane, Aviation News, FlyPast, and The Aviation Historian, and is a member of the Editorial Board of the latter publication. He is the author of several hardbound books, including: JV 44 - The Galland Circus (1996), Battle over Bavaria - The B-26 versus the German Jets (Classic, 1998), Mistel - German Composite Aircraft and Operations 1942-1945 (Classic, 2001), Messerschmitt Me 264 Amerikabomber (Classic, 2006, with Eddie Creek); He 162 Volksjager (Classic, 2009, with Eddie Creek); Heinkel He 111 (Crecy, 2014); Junkers Ju 52 (Specialty Press. 2015, with Eddie Creek). He has had a substantial relationship with Osprey Publishing, and has written Jagdverband 44 (2008, Aviation Elite Units 27); Jagdgeschwader 7 (2008, Aviation Elite Units 29); Fw 190 Sturmbocke vs B-17 Flying Fortress (2009, Duel 24); Aces of the Legion Condor (2011, Aircraft of the Aces 99); Luftwaffe Viermot Aces (2011, Aircraft of the Aces); Me 262 Bomber and Reconnaissance Units (2012, Combat Aircraft 83); Luftwaffe Mistel Composite Bomber Units (2015, Combat Aircraft 112); He 162 Volksjager Units (2016, Combat Aircraft 118); Ju 52/3m Bomber and Transport Units 1936-41 (2017, Combat Aricraft 120); Messerschmitt Me 264 Amerika Bomber (2016, X Planes); and the forthcoming hardback, Shadow Over the Atlantic (2017).

Illustrator Jim Laurier, a native of New England, provides the color profiles. Jim has been drawing since he could hold a pencil and throughout his life he has worked in many mediums creating artwork on a variety of subjects. He has worked on the Osprey Aviation list since 2000, and has been featured in hundreds of aviation books.

Illustrator Wiek Luijken graduated from Delft University of Technology in 2000 after attending Merlet College from 1985-1991 and is based out of Guildford, Surrey, UK. He is currently the Art Director at Criterion Games / EA. He previously was a director of game trailers and commercials. You can see some of his portfolio at https://www.artstation.com/artist/kiwi123 and at http://www.luijken.com/

This 88 page book contains a color painting by Wiek Luijken of a Messerchmitt P.1101 of I./JG 7 engaging a Gloster Meteor F3 of 616 Squadron over Brandenburg in the autumn of 1946 along with a substantial description. Wiek Luijken also contributes a gorgeous two page painting of two Focke-Wulf Ta 193 fighters of I./JG 1 engaging a formation of Eighth Air Force B-17 Flying Fortresses with Ruhrstahl X4 missiles. I counted 49 black and white photographs, 30 black and white drawings, 5 color drawings, and 3 tables. Jim Laurier also contributes six color 3-views addressing each of the aircraft projects presented in this book.

This is the fourth in this new Osprey series that follows the format of the previous three titles (Bell X-1, Messerschmitt Me 264 Amerika Bomber, and the North American X-15) and focuses on the technology involved in their development, test flights, and effect on future designs. Although the Red Army was pressing Germany hard from the east, the Allies from the west were destroying Germany's infrastructure with their massive bombing raids. November 1944 saw the Luftwaffe severely depleted on the western front with only 249 operational fighters available. The Allies were destroying the aircraft factories, railways, and fuel reserves. The last week of December also saw the loss of 316 fighter pilots that was having an even greater impact. Operation Bodenplatte, the last real offensive action by Germany, was launched on January 1, 1945. While there were some notable successes, the losses sustained by the Luftwaffe were untenable with 143 pilots killed or missing in action.

Robert Forsyth kicks off this book with the status of the Luftwaffe towards the end of 1944. There is a nice summary of the Heinkel-Hirth HeS 011 turbojet engine development and the Heinkel He 280 fighter along with the Messerschmitt Me 262's development. Although the Messerschmitt 262 was becoming operational during this timeframe, it was too little-too late. It was against this backdrop that the RLM called for a tender-style competition for a new generation, jet powered 'emergency' fighter/interceptor in late 1944 to deal with the B-17 Flying Fortress, B-24 Liberator, and the soon to arrive B-29 Superfortress. Despite a lot of political bickering over the specifications, by February 1945, eight proposals had been received.

Forsyth provides individual chapters on six of these proposals, complete with color 3-views from Jim Laurier on each proposal. The proposals include the Blohm & Voss Bv P.212.03, the Focke-Wulf's 'Huckebein' [Ta 183], the Heinkel P.1078C, the Junkers EF 128, the Messerschmitt P.1101, and the Henschel Hs P.135. Forsyth also introduces discussions on the Mk 108 30mm cannon development along with the development of the R4M air-to-air rocket and the Ruhrstahl X4 wire controlled rocket. Despite difficulties in specification comparison, the selection battle boiled down to the Focke-Wulf and Messerschmitt proposals, although there really was no 'true' winner of the competition. Messerschmitt had already started construction of their proposal, the P.1101 and they were given 'permission' to continue. The RLM did award a contract to build a series of prototypes of the Ta 183 and Kurt Tank did initiate full size mock-ups as well manufacturing equipment and components. The British arrived at Bad Eilsen on April 8, 1945, as the Focke-Wulf workforce was busy destroying their files and papers. The nearly complete Messerschmitt P.1101 V1 was moved on April 27, 1945, from the factory to an underground storage facility to protect it from Allied bombing. The US 7th Army arrived two days later to capture the P.1101 V1, still fitted with a mock-up of the HeS 011 engine.

The final chapter discusses the Allies who benefitted from the German designs and may have utilized those concepts in their designs, notably the Soviet MiG-15 and the Saab J-29. Bell's Chief Engineer, Robert Woods, studied the P.1101 to the point where Bell restored the P.1101 and developed an improved version with a moveable wing, the Bell X-5.

The sections include:

  • Chapter One: The Luftwaffe At War
  • Chapter Two: Power and Form
  • Sweeping Back [Page 17]
  • Chapter Three: The Emergency Fighter Programme
  • Chapter Four: Blohm & Voss BV P.212.03 [Page 26]
  • Cannon and Rocket Armament
  • Chapter Five: Focke-Wulf Project 'Huckebein' [Page 38]
  • Ruhrstahl X4 Rocket
  • Chapter Six: Henkel P.1078C
  • Chapter Seven: Junkers EF 128 [Page 49]
  • Chapter Eight: Messerschmitt P.1101 [Page 52]
  • Chapter Nine: Henschel Hs P.135 [Page 61]
  • Chapter Ten: Assessment and Decision [Page 68]
  • Chapter Eleven: A Legacy of Design [Page 75]
  • Sources and Selected Bibliography
  • Index

One of the sections I found fascinating was on the Swedish development of the Saab J 29 Tunnan that bore some overall design similarities to the Focke-Wulf Ta-183. Saab design work began in October 1945 and the Saab Tunnan ended up being the first Western European jet fighter to go operational with a swept wing. The Saab Tunnan managed to set two world speed records in 1954 and 1955. The Tunnan also saw combat as part of the UN force in the Congo between 1961 and 1963 where it was successful in the ground attack and reconnaissance missions.

Forsyth provides a good introduction to the topic with an easy to read style. I went through the 88 pages over two nights. If you own one the previous releases in the X-Planes series, you know what you are getting. If this is your initial entry into this series, you will be quite pleased.

My thanks to Osprey Publishing and IPMS/USA for the chance to review this great book.

Highly recommended!

  • Back cover
    Back cover
  • Page 17
    Page 17
  • Page 26
    Page 26
  • Page 38
    Page 38
  • Page 49
    Page 49
  • Page 52
    Page 52
  • Page 61
    Page 61
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