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JG 300

22 Jul
2012

miniature planes

JG 300 Volume I: June 1943-September 1944 Jean-Yves Lorant and Richard Goyat (translated by Neil Page) Eagle Editions US$75.00 (standard hard-back)/US$l65.00 deluxe leather-bound limited edition of only 300 copies signed by Hajo Herrmann Website: www. eagle-editions. com

The roots of this book are in a meeting with Paul Lixfeld, a former pilot of 6. Staffel (Sturm)/JG 300 in 1977. From there things snowballed, with more interviews with veterans leading to an astonishing 20 years of research into the men and machines of JG 300. The scope is vast, ranging from night – to day-fighting and the first part of this mammoth undertaking actually covers far more than the specifics of JG 300. For instance, the Introduction deals briefly with the organisation of Luftwaffe fighter units, before examining in some detail the discrepancies between German and Allied claims for losses and victories, and explaining how the authors correlated the different documents for the purposes of the book.
Volume One traces the unit’s inception and the subsequent switch from night – to day-fighting to combat the growing threat from American raids that culminated in some of the greatest aerial battles ever seen.
The book is printed on very high quality heavyweight paper. 

 

Most pages contain black and white photographs, often two or more, so at a rough estimate there must be well over 1,000 photographs here. The reproduction is faultless and, while the quality of the originals obviously varies, they have been printed with care to optimise their tonal range and reveal the details so prized by modellers. Some of the photographs are well known, but the vast majority are drawn from the private collections of former JG 300 members and their families. As such, they appear here in print for the first time and represent a truly unique record of the operational lives of the pilots.
The range of subjects is remarkable. There’s everything here, from the Wilde Sau Bf 109s and Fw 190s, through standard day fighters and assault fighters. Among them are some absolute gems for anyone looking for unusual colour schemes, such as Obit Kurt Gabler’s natural-metal Bf 109G-6, extraordinary ‘mirror-wave’ variations and some really individual night-fighter schemes. One of the important aspects of the photographic coverage is that the authors have often managed to find multiple images of the same machine to reveal more of its camouflage and markings. In all cases, the photographs are backed up with detailed captions.
Many of the more striking schemes are also carefully reconstructed in a series of beautiful colour profiles by T. Tullis and Richard Goyat. Unfortunately, there aren’t any plan views included, but careful comparison with the photographs usually helps fill in the blanks. In cases where there are no photographs, a little ‘educated guesswork’ is really the order of the day, which would be equally true whether you did it yourself or relied on the artists’.
While modellers will relish the absolute gold mine of unusual colour schemes and close-up details of JG 300 aircraft, this book, above all, is about the pilots. Each chapter takes the form of a detailed unit combat diary. The detail is quite extraordinary. Each day’s combat is described in exacting detail through comparison of German and Allied records. A combat diary sounds potentially rather ‘dry’, but that certainly isn’t the case here, because the well-written text is really brought to life by powerful first-hand accounts of the fighting from the Luftwaffe pilots. These stories make for some of the most gripping descriptions of World War II dogfighting I’ve ever read. The details of the characters are particularly useful, and careful study of the text will add much to models and dioramas depicting the men and machines of the Gruppe
The last chapter is a concise description of the Wilde Sau training programme by Jaques Calcine (a former Lt-Col in I’Armee de I’Air), accompanied by yet more unusual photographs, this time of the various training aircraft used by future JG 300 pilots. Finally, there’s a comprehensive list of claims and losses from 22 April 1943 to 16 September 1944, and descriptions of the various day – and night-fighting Staffel colours and Gruppe symbols, plus a glossary of Luftwaffe ranks and terms with their Allied equivalents.
This is a marvellous book and I’ve only begun to scratch the surface of the true depth of its detail here. The value to modellers actually goes way beyond being restricted to JG 300; the variety of colour schemes and the details in the photographs will be a source of inspiration for models of Luftwaffe fighters for years to come. The cover price may seem high, but this is set into perspective by the extraordinary amount of material contained within. When you realise that the standard version only costs the equivalent of about ten monthly magazines, which would contain only a fraction of the material gathered here, the book actually turns out to be remarkably good value.

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