Eagles of the Luftwaffe, Vol.2, Focke-Wulf Fw-200
World War II is probably the most covered subject of publishers of material intended for modelers and historians, and this book fills a gap that has been left unfilled for a long time. Most publications seem to be of purely military aircraft, but this one is unusual in that it provides the development and combat history of an airplane that was originally designed as a long range airliner, but was later converted to various military roles, including reconnaissance, bombing, torpedo attacks, and military transport roles.
Developed during the middle thirties, and FW-200 was originally intended to modernize the Lufthansa fleet, mainly increasing their aircraft’s speed and range, and allowing them to replace the obsolete flying boats that were being used for foreign service. Although only 280 were eventually produced, even before the war started, Luftwaffe planners saw the possibilities of using the FW-200 for military uses, including reconnaissance, bombing, and military transport duties.
Book Description and Content
This book covers the technological development of the Focke Wulf FW-200, from its beginnings as an airline replacement for the Junkers JU-52, to its use in numerous combat roles. It is not the first work on the FW-200, as a book on the subject was published in 2010, written by Jerry Scutts, containing an extensive history of the type, but at twice the price. A Profile Publication was also done on the type well before that, but its information is not very detailed.
This is one of those books that make you wonder how the author came up with all of the photos and information. This book provides some very basic data on the origins of the design, and the combat record of the plane. There were relatively few of them built, and very few of them survived the war. Although originally intended as an airline transport, while some of them served as transports throughout the war, most were constructed or were converted to bombers of various types and they were active almost until the end in 1945. Unfortunately, no example appears to have survived, primarily because of its size. It is pretty easy to find a place to store a small fighter plane, but the FW-200 would have taken the space of four or five smaller types, and after the war, space seemed to be a problem in the victorious countries. Even the Spanish failed to preserve one, even though they operated several of the types that escaped from France and Germany at the end of the war.
One fact about World War II is that a lot of the troops carried cameras, and quite a few of them took pictures of some of the airplanes they saw during their movement through enemy countries. Many of the photos are of wrecked airplanes, which were either destroyed or damaged on the ground by Allied aircraft, or crash landed after sustaining battle damage inflicted by enemy fighters. One problem with the FW-200 was that there were mechanical problems that seemed to occur repeatedly, and while crash landings weren’t always fatal, they could be devastating to the airplanes involved. Fortunately, many of these photos have survived.
This book will be very useful to anyone wishing to make an accurate model of a FW-200. It is filled with black and white photos taken during the war and slightly afterwards, including many close-ups of airframes and especially of special features of particular aircraft, including cockpits, turrets, armament systems, engines, and other specialized parts. In addition, there are a lot of pictures of aircrews and other people associated with the careers of these aircraft, most often showing uniform details.
There were basically two versions of the FW-200 produced, the airliner and the bomber. The Revell kit, also marketed by Ace of South Korea, originally was primarily for modeling the bomber version, although the Ace kit, as I recall, is rather easier to convert into the airline transport. I have only built the bomber version, and it builds up into a nice model. This book would have been very useful in constructing this model, so it will be helpful in my construction of the next one.
One rather interesting feature of the book was the inclusion of the page out of the U.S. Navy Aircraft Recognition booklet. I received one of these from the Navy in the middle fifties, and it has remarkably accurate information on the major aircraft types used during the war. I still have it, and look at it occasionally. I’ll include a copy of it in this review.
This book is very interesting reading, as it goes through the various careers of the aircraft, describing the modifications for each basic type, and the operational use that resulted. There are many photos, suitably explained, which illustrate the variants in the discussion. One very useful feature is the number of interior views provided, showing the cockpit layouts and the instrumentation. In addition there are sixteen color profile drawings showing all of the basic variants, including of course, Adolf’s personal transport in the various markings it carried. There is certainly enough information in the book to build any of the variants that were used before and during the war.
While on the topic of the FW-200, I should describe an item I have had in my possession for a number of years. Having given some of my models of German aircraft to a German pilot friend of mine, Rudi Schulz, with whom I have flown in his airplane many times, I received from him a metal display model of a German FW-200. It is cast in metal, in some odd scale, and painted in what amounts to an inaccurate color scheme. It has a metal stand, with the identification “Condor” printed on the base. However, it was obviously manufactured during World War II, and I’ve had it on its metal stand sitting on my desk for a long time. I suspect that it was one of a number of them given out by the Focke-Wulf company during the war, and that it is one that has somehow survived, and that it is now quite a collector’s item. It’s not in 1/72 scale, smaller, even than 1/144, but that’s not the point. It’s a really historic model. Thanks, Rudi.
Commentary and Recommendations
This book was very enjoyable reading, and for any person wishing to build a model of an FW-200, it would be a very useful reference. It gives the colors, markings, and details required for any of the variants. I don’t know about the availability of specialized decals, but you should have no trouble coming up with a presentable model of the aircraft using this book as a reference. Don’t pass this one up. Get one while you can. Highly recommended.
Thanks to Tempest Books, Morton’s Books, and Casemate for the review copy.