Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Historische Deutsche Flugzeuge bis 1945 - Band 1

[Full title: Historische Deutsche Flugzeuge bis 1945; Geschichte, Fakten, Risse, Schnitte; classic scale; Flugzeug-Dokumentation; Band 1], Karlheinz Kens, Modellsport Verlag GmbH, Baden-Baden, Germany, 2011 (second edition), ISBN 978-3-923142-39-2. Illustrated, softcover, published in German.

Cover image © by Modellsport Verlag GmbH, 2011.

There are no Messerschmitt Bf 109s in this book. Nor any Focke-Wulf Fw 190s. And yet it is quite an absorbing little publication.

The wordy German title of this rather inconspicuous softcover release translates to: "Historic German Aircraft up to 1945; History, Facts, Drawings, Cutaways; Aircraft Documentation; Volume 1". It is essentially a 130-page (A4 format) compendium of portrait articles on various German aircraft types of the years 1919 to 1945, authored by one of the early pioneers of German aviation history research, Karlheinz Kens. Some of the articles featured in Historische Deutsche Flugzeuge bis 1945 - Band 1 originally appeared in Modellflug International, a specialist publication for radio-control model aviation. These articles were expanded upon for inclusion here, however, and there are also a number of entries specifically written for this book.

What makes Historische Deutsche Flugzeuge bis 1945 - Band 1 truly appealing to me personally is that it attempts to present a comprehensive cross-section of aircraft types not commonly addressed in most mainstream publications. This includes little known aircraft, competition aircraft, aircraft built by student groups, sailplanes, aircraft produced in very small numbers, and aircraft produced by the larger aircraft manufacturers that, for some reasons, did not enter mass production. Volume 1 contains entries on the Klemm Kl 106, Klemm Kl 151, the Der Dessauer sailplane, Albatros L 101, Daimler-Klemm L 20, Daimler-Klemm L 21, Blohm & Voss BV 141, the Luftikus sailplane, D-B1 glider, D-B2 sailplane, Blohm & Voss BV 40, Caspar C 32, Greif sailplane, Gerner G-I, Gerner G-II, Focke-Wulf Fw 159, Ruhrtaler Ru 3, and the Münchener Eindecker glider. These contents are concluded by a five-page article on German military aircraft markings up to 1918.

Each of those entries is nicely - if unspectacularly - presented by means of a clean and attractive layout, several pages of text, high-quality black & white photos, and nice multi-view line drawings. Wherever possible, both photos and line drawings include various detail views as well (cockpits, wing structures, cross sections, and so on). This is a true enthusiast's publication, and there are thus no visual stunts, color profiles, tinted photos, or lurid headlines. This is simply about the history and use of the aircraft featured. Nonetheless, for somebody whose interest is not limited merely to the already utterly overexposed aspects of German aviation history and the German Luftwaffe, this little book is quite a treasure trove.

Moreover, Karlheinz Kens' writing is concise and captivating throughout. The contents of Historische Deutsche Flugzeuge bis 1945 - Band 1 have managed to answer a number of questions that existed in my mind for quite some time. And, not least, it is quite nice to see so many images of aircraft that are usually relegated to remaining concealed due to a lack of attention by authors and publishers.

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