Wings of the Luftwaffe  [9781902109152]

Wings of the Luftwaffe
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Date Added: Tuesday 28. September, 2010
This book, by well known test pilot Eric Brown is dedicated solely in content to the Luftwaffe planes that were test flown by the allies after the war for comparative and Developmental research. This is an update of the older book by the same title – so if you see a book with a different picture on the cover but the same title it’s the one with only seventeen aircraft compared in the book not thirty-four as in this tome. This book is a hardcover with two hundred and seventy two pages, the stories and detail packed inside are a great read or a source of reference.

Eric 'Winkle' Brown - Former Chief Naval Test Pilot and Commanding Officer of the Aerodynamics Flight at the Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnborough - first became known to me in my teens when I read his book about testing Navy aircraft - "Wings on My Sleeve" it opened my eyes to a whole new interesting genre of books about the testing of captured, experimental and prototype aircraft. From witnessing firsthand the re-birth of German aviation witnessing a flight by aviation innovator Ernst Udet, and being first hand to see Hanna Reitsch's famous demonstration of early helicopter flight.

Brown was kicked out of Germany at the start of WWII and was drafted into the RAF sometime later – he had the chance in 1944 to become a test pilot for the Fleet air arm. During the war he test flew many aircraft and captured types as well. Brown is in the Guinness Book of Records as the person who has flown the most number of different types of aircraft types ever in history (487 but if you include variants of each type many many more). So it's with great interest that I read this book and I have to say I am impressed. A nice Video all about the man is here – along with some others of the man.

There are thirty Four aircraft profiled here, all Luftwaffe aircraft from the which survived at the end of the war. He was in Germany in the thirties so it must have been satisfying for Brown to be present at the end of the boom in Nazi Aviation to see what became of all the promising beginnings he witnessed. After the war Brown did help question several German senior Luftwaffe officials and pilots so this helped his understanding of the aircraft he flew and documented in this book.
The great thing about the book is that Brown got to fly these aircraft and he probably flew so many he wasn’t biased by just one type of airframe. So his recounting – dry with his wit as a mummies big toe – His account can be trusted not to be weighed down too much by preferences for a single type.

Each aircraft has a some basic facts at the start of each story, where it was made and who was the chief engineer and chief pilot then on to a brief description of the aircraft by the man himself – noting the little intricacies of each type and its variants, often as well what they were used for as well - the Arado AR 232B cargo plane was used for ferrying captured material from Germany and the former German occupied countries back to Farnborough.

They realized in flight that the rear cargo door could be lowered and raised with very little difference in flight characteristics – this type of "see how we go" type of flying is all the way throughout the book. From a large section on his exploits in the groundbreaking Thrust variable rocket fighter the Me163 and the first German Jets fighters and bombers to the older Jungmiester and Ju-52 its impressive to me the chances that were taken while flying to test these captured birds, and the nonchalant description of the risks Brown took – what a man!

Pictures often taken by brown himself and aircraft cutaways which were originally published in "Warplanes of the Third Reich" all feature heavily in this book and add to the worth of research stored here there are also cockpit diagrams in line drawing form with key attached are great as well as notes written on aircraft from Brown himself.

He has some excellent comments about some of these aircraft he flew and things he did–

"they had about as much chance of bringing their guns to bear on the elusive German newcomer to the war arena as they had of knocking it from the sky with a volley of profane oaths" – Arado AR234B

"At this time in history the Russians were distrustful of the American, couldn’t understand the French, hated the Germans , and were amenable to the British as they had Stood by them in the earliest days of the war" - On negotiating the release of a BV 141 from a Russian airfield.

" I suppose that in a real do or die situation one could have ejected without the preliminaries and played Russian roulette with the rear airscrew" – on the ejction process of the Dornier Do 335

Though these planes can no longer fly for the most part, Captain Brown has at least left us with some credible authentic record of just how god they were (or weren’t in some cases) Here is an even better video of Brown on encountering the more advanced German Jets – stories like this go right through this book. Also at the end of this book is a detailed alphabetical list of All of the aircraft Captain Brown has flown. Amazing .

So what do we think?

If you are interested in German aircraft, test flying or just the characteristics of aeroplanes in flight you will love this.

Ohh and its quite a funny read at times as well!

Adam Norenberg
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars! [5 of 5 Stars!]
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