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Focke-Wulf Fw 200

Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Book Review

By David L. Veres

Date of Review March 2018 Title Focke-Wulf Fw 200
Author Chris Goss Publisher Classic Publications
Published 2018 ISBN 9781906537548
Format 288 pages, hardbound MSRP (USD) $84.95


Originally designed as long-range, four-engine airliners, Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condors forged fame as the Allies' main aerial menace during World War II's "Battle of the Atlantic".

Now Chris Goss recaps their controversial combat career in Focke-Wulf Fw 200: The Condor at War 1939-1945 – Crécy's hefty hardback, available in North America from Specialty Press.

In response to Japan's order for a military variant, Kurt Tank himself supervised conversion of the civilian version into an armed maritime reconnaissance bomber. And examples initially saw service during 1940's Norway campaign.

With France's defeat that summer, England again faced strangulation by submarine. But to this undersea "scourge", Churchill added air attack. And the "most formidable", he warned, was Germany's Fw 200 maritime patrol and strike bomber.

Initial maritime operations with Kampfgeschwader 40 (KG 40) proved the aircraft's viability in anti-shipping roles. Condors also undertook limited bombing missions over the British Isles.

Contents course chronologically through the total tale. And chapter headings suggest the type's inevitable decline:

  • The Rise Of The Condor
  • A Slow Start
  • Success And Change
  • More Changes
  • Crescendo
  • A Matter Of Time

Actions. Deployments. Serviceability. Losses. Personnel. And Führer transports. Operations over Scandanavia. The Atlantic. The Mediterranean. And the Soviet Union. Goss recaps all.

Classic's account packs plenty of surprises, too. America's first victory over the Luftwaffe in World War II, for instance, occurred when 33rd FS P-39s downed an Fw 200 over Iceland in August 1942.

In fact, air-to-air engagements between Fw 200s and Allied aircraft really season this saga. Sunderlands. Whitleys. Wellingtons. Hudsons. Halifaxes. Lancasters. B-24s. P-38s. Mosquitos. Beaufighters. Even Northrop N-3BPs off Iceland. All grace Goss' absorbing action accounts.

With 20 ships sunk and 13 more damaged, February 1941 proved the zenith of Condor success. But by war's end, Nazi Germany's once-vaunted Condors served entirely in transport roles.

Churchill's "scourge" had – ironically – come full circle.

Modelers and rivet-counters will love this book. Classic's sumptuous study sports hundreds of operational and detail photos, drawings, and tech-manual excerpts. And expertly executed color profiles provide superb modeling inspiration.

Confused by Condor versions? A handy table clarifies "Fw 200 C Condor Basic Military Variants" and Umrüstsätze. Appendices cover key personnel and Condor losses. Still others chronicle encounters with Allied aircraft, shipping attacks and claims, and units. And indices neatly wrap things up.

But in a volume of this size and scope, the lack of annotations proved irksome. Exactly who, for instance, "suggested" that "the precise purpose" of Condors on Rhodes in January 1945 was "part of preparations for an attack on the Suez Canal with Hs 293s"?

The USAAF insigne style also dates that 33rd FS P-39D shot before early June 1942 – not in August 1942. Additionally, Goss' questionable grammar – especially a penchant for dangling modifiers – sometimes confused narrative. What exactly was Oblt. Karl-Heinz Stahnke flying when he downed "two Bristol Blenheims of 113 Sqn"? And precisely what scale are Arthur L. Bentley's beautiful Fw 200 drawings?

Concerns aside, Classic's hefty history promises to become the standard English-language study of this fascinating warplane. It certainly supplants the publisher's 2008 edition – now a collectible. Make it your reference on Fw 200 operations.

My sincere thanks to Specialty Press for this review sample!