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Nachtjäger Volume One

Nachtjäger Volume One Book Review

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review May 2006 Title Nachtjäger Volume One
Author David P. Williams Publisher Classic Publications
Published 2005 ISBN 1-903223-53-9
Format 192 pages, softbound MSRP (USD) $29.95


Classic Publications has released Volume One of their Nachtjäger (Night Fighter) two-part series. This first installment covers Luftwaffe night fighter units between 1939 and 1943. Many folks these days assume that night fighters were synonymous with radar-equipped interceptors that would stalk their prey electronically. Close, but those days would come much later.

Up through 1943, radar was a relatively new technology, especially in aircraft. In these early years, ground controllers with radar to vector the night fighters was still off in the future. Pilots still used their eyes to look for targets - silhouettes against stars or clouds, the blink of engine exhaust flames, the careless blink of a light, anything to draw the attention of the night fighter pilot to his prey. Finding your target locked up in a searchlight beam worked rather well too.

When radar did arrive on the scene, it would add another set of eyes to look for targets. While airborne radar could still not see as far as the eye, it could see targets nearby that were otherwise masked in darkness. These radar sets offered another improvement in night fighting - telling you range to target so you can fine tune your shot before telegraphing YOUR presence to the tail gunner in your prey!

Coverage of the title includes:

  • Development of the Nachtjagd
  • Himmelbett and Radar Systems
  • The Kammhuber Line
  • Intruder Operations
  • The Eastern Front

This title has a very nice array of black & white as well as some color (!) photos of the men and machines from the early days of Luftwaffe night fighter operations. In addition, the title has a nice array of color profiles of many of the aircraft discussed in depth .

Volume 2 continues into ground-controlled intercept, jet interceptors, and Wilde Sau. This is a good read on the infancy of coordinated night fighter operations and the tactics that were developed. Hopefully Classic will cover the same topic from the RAF's own evolution of night fighter operations. Definitely recommended!

You can check out Volume Two here.

My sincere thanks to Motorbooks International for this review sample!