He 111 Kampfgeschwader on the Russian Front
Although the He-111 was designed supposedly as a civil transport prototype capable of carrying 10 passengers and mail, its main purpose was of a military nature. It first flew in 1935. Several modifications were made to improve performance. A major change was replacing the two 660-hp BMW engines with the 1,000 hp Daimler Benz DB 600A engines, which significantly improved performance. The He-111 cut its fighting teeth in the Spanish Civil War, serving with the Condor Legion where it was very successful. That success continued in the early days of World War II. Germany overran several countries with its Blitzkrieg tactics, staring the Ju-87 and the He-111. Its success faded with the onset of the Battle of Britain when the lightly armed He 111 encountered the fast Spitfires and Hurricanes. By the time Hitler lost this battle, he was already planning Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union. The He 111 again found success on the Russian Front. It is here that author John Weal picks up the story of the He 111 with his new book, He 111 Kanpfgeschwader on the Russian Front.
This 96-page softbound book is number 100 in Osprey's Combat Series. This book is not about the He-111 as a "walk around" book would describe the aircraft. This book provides a comprehensive history of the He-111's career in the Russian campaign. The author presents the material in chronological order beginning with the first day of the campaign to the last.
The chapters are:
- Objective Moskau – Stories of crews and units as they advance on Moscow
- Indecision Time – How the He-111 units are used when Soviet forces stiffen and put Hitler in a quandary
- The Soviets Strike Back – With Hitler's forces barely holding on in 1942, Stalin believes the time is ripe for a counter attack and the-He 111 units endure
- Stalingrad – Hitler strikes back in the south in the summer of 1942 and how the He-111 units play a roll
- The Long Road to Defeat – How the He-111 units respond to the German defeat and Soviet advancement
The book contains several black and white period photographs. A block of text explaining the action or activity seen accompanies each photograph. Of particular interest to the modeler will be the 30 beautiful full-color profile drawings showing the camouflage patterns used in the Russian campaign. The reader will find detailed information for each of the 30 aircraft in the Appendices. Also in the Appendices, the reader will find bomber strength for the units deployed from 1941 to 1945.
The material and color plates found in He 111 Kampfgeschwader on the Russian Front can help the modeler achieve a unique build. From a historical standpoint, this is a great read. This book is an inexpensive and valuable addition to any collection on WWII aircraft. It is a must-have book.
My sincere thanks go to Osprey Publishing for providing this wonderful book to IPMS/USA, and to IPMS/USA for allowing me to review it.