Published on
July 23, 2013
Review Author(s)
Book Author(s)
Marek Ryś
Other Publication Information
Hardback, 176 pages, 58 color computer-generated paintings, 300+ line drawings, dimension and projected performance charts

For years, I’ve been fascinated by what has come to be known as the 1946 Luftwaffe, or Luft ’46 – the seemingly inexhaustible blizzard of drafting-table designs the German aircraft industry produced before and during the Second World War for aircraft that were never built. The what-iffyness of these proposals that could have been flying against the Allies had the war continued for one more year has always deeply intrigued the science fiction fan in me. I first became aware of the phenomenon in 1967 when I bought Aireview’s German Military Aircraft in the Second World War, which included a series of line drawings of aircraft I’d never heard of before. As the decades passed, more and more information about these fanciful designs has come to light from declassified government files. German Air Projects, written and illustrated by Marek Ryś, is the second updated edition of an earlier two-volume set from MMP Books on what-if fighters, both books now blended together in this spectacular single volume.

Following a brief introduction, Mr. Ryś presents a concise summary of the importance of fighter aircraft to the Luftwaffe and the Reich. Then, he displays page after stunning page of information concerning the most credible speculative aircraft designs from the major aircraft manufacturers in wartime Germany – Arado, Bachem, Blohm und Voss, BMW, Daimler Benz, Dornier, Fieseler, Focke-Wulf, Gotha, Heinkel, Henschel, Horten, Junkers, Lippisch, Messerschmitt, and some smaller companies. Descriptive text for each type is accompanied by detailed line drawings and tables listing the aircrafts’ projected dimensions, weights, and performance estimates. The entry for Messerschmitt’s P.1101, which was built but never flown, runs from page 145 to 152 and includes several computer-generated illustrations. Similarly, Focke-Wulf’s Ta-183 provides the entire history of the aircraft’s development over nine pages, and includes factory drawings, a photo of a wind tunnel model, and an arrangement layout of its landing gear. All of the entries are comprehensive and easy to follow as they trace each aircraft’s development from concept to proposed finalized production version.

But, by far, the most enjoyable aspect of the book to me is the gorgeous computer-generated paintings of these never-built aircraft, displaying their unique and unfamiliar shapes in operational status. These photo-realistic paintings display the same sharpness and lighting of actual photographs, yet are solely the product of the imagination of the artists’ digital manipulation of shapes, highlight, texture, and color. Mr. Ryś himself has for years been providing illustrations for books and magazines, and even box art for speculative Luft ’46 kits worldwide. He is joined here by fellow computer graphic artists Ronnie Olsthoorn, Gino Marcomini, Neal Sutton, Tim Cameron, and Josef Gatial, who bring to intense life the aircraft that, in reality, existed only as blueprints or rough sketches on paper.

Modelers of Luft ’46 aircraft will both enjoy and welcome the information and paintings presented here. Luftwaffe historians should likewise appreciate Marek Ryś’ research into these little-known but important offerings from a German aircraft industry becoming desperate as the war progressed. Highly recommended.

I would like to thank Mushroom Models Publications and IPMS/USA for the opportunity to review this fascinating product.


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