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13. (slow) JG 52

13. (slow) JG 52 Book Review

By Ray Mehlberger

Date of Review November 2007 Title 13. (slow) JG 52
Author Jiri Rajlich Publisher Mushroom Model Publications
Published 2007 ISBN 978-83-89450-50-0
Format 112 pages, softbound MSRP (USD) $22.95


This new book by Mushroom Model Publications (MMP) is in their usual 9” x 6 ½” soft cover format, that they use for their books on various aircraft subjects. The book is 112 pages in length.

This is the latest volume from MMP in their “Blue Series”. It is a book on the Slovak fighter unit which fought on the Eastern Front as part of the Luftwaffe’s JG 52. The history of this unit is described in full, from its initial establishment following the breakup of Czechoslovakia by the Nazis, to service with the Germans against the USSR, the disastrous combats against USAAF bombers and their escorts over Slovakia, and finally operations against their former ally during the Slovak uprising in 1944. Initially equipped with the Avia B.534 biplanes, the unit flew Bf 109’s on the Eastern Front and on home defense, reverting to B.534 biplanes at the end – and scoring perhaps the final air-to-air victory by a biplane fighter.

History has not been kind to the 13th Squadron, it’s actions denigrated or ignored under the post-war communist regime and the subject of controversy even now. Author Jiri Rajlich PHD studied history at Charles University in Prague and now works for the Military Historical Institute in Prague as a director of the Historical Document section. He specializes in the history of Czechoslovak and Slovak Air Forces and air combat over Europe during WWII, so is uniquely placed to tell this story, with full access to all relevant archives and drawing on many first-hand accounts. He is the author or co-author of more than 40 books and hundreds of articles on aviation history.

Presented in full for the first time, this is the story of the Slovak Air Arm’s 13th Squadron. This account tracks the rise and fall of the 13th Squadron from it’s formation in 1939 after the break-up of Czechoslovakia, through combat on the Eastern Front as part of JG 52, to tragic efforts defending the homeland against the USAAF, and finally action against it’s former allies, the Germans, at the end of WWII.

With it’s history distorted and discredited under Czechoslovak communist rule, the true story of this very successful fighter unit can now be told.

The book is profusely illustrated with 184 black and white wartime photos of the aircraft and pilots of the 13th Squadron. There are 15 pages of data lists. At the end of the book, there are 23 color profile paintings of aircraft in Czech and Slovak markings. These include the Avia B.534, Bf 109E-3, E-4, E-7, G-4 and G-6. The book has full details of all claimed victories by 13/JG 52, plus it’s losses, and details of the aircraft flown by the unit.

This is an invaluable reference source for aircraft historians, enthusiasts and scale modelers.

I want to thank Mushroom Model Publications (MMP) and Casemate for this review sample.