Junkers Ju88 Volume 2 Book Review
|Date of Review||December 2015||Title||Junkers Ju88 Volume 2|
|Author||William A. Medcalf with Eddie Creek||Publisher||Crecy|
|Format||336 pages, hardbound||MSRP (USD)||$99.95|
Available in North America from Specialty Press, Classic’s landmark study of the Junkers Ju 88 continues with volume 2 – “The Bomber at War - Day and Night Operations”.
Author William A. Medcalf methodically, competently and chronologically courses – theater-by-theater, unit-by-unit – through the total tale. And coverage, including pagination, commences where volume 1 ends.
Chapters on wartime theater operations essentially divide into two parts – an overview and individual unit summaries.
After an initially lengthy service introduction, Ju 88s saw combat during attacks on Denmark, Norway and the Low Countries. Fighting proved fierce. And against France, for instance, over a third of operational examples were lost in action.
Ju 88s achieved “significant numbers” during the Battle of Britain. And many units converted from older types to Junkers’ bomber. Coverage thereafter chronologically courses among major wartime theaters of operation – right through to “Kapitulation”.
By 1941, the Luftwaffe’s bombing force had, numerically at least, reached its peak. Medcalf dutifully distills Western Front, Mediterranean and Eastern Front actions – Operation Barbarossa being the first major campaign with the Junkers as “the main component of the German bomber force”.
Barbarossa certainly proved the high-water mark of Luftwaffe bomber strength. But Hitler had stretched Nazi resources to the limit. Germany lacked strategic bombing assets against Soviet production capabilities beyond the Urals. Japan refused to attack in the east. And with vast production capacity, the United States finally entered the war. The combination virtually sealed Germany’s fate.
To the Third Reich's very end, Ju 88s comprised the majority of Luftwaffe bombers. But Classic’s study also notes the Junkers’ use in roles other than bombardment – like anti-shipping, strafing and Mistel operations.
Dozens of photos and drawings – some of the latter from archival sources – season the study. But page 487’s Ju 88 S-1 in Wellenmuster – wave or “meander” pattern, as Medcalf calls it – certainly does look like the common “light on dark” camouflage variation.
Simon Schatz’s and Janusz Swistion’s terrific color profiles rank among the best I’ve seen. Just savor that eye-popping scheme on Ju 88 A-4 B3+MH at Dübendorf, Switzerland!
Maps, sidebars and anecdotes spice Classic’s sumptuous stew. But don’t seek Leningrad and Stalingrad on page 442’s map. The Soviet cities inexplicably – and anachronistically – sport their current names.
Illuminating tables also chart the rise and fall of Ju 88 strength. Chapter endnotes expand and explain text. And a selected bibliography and indices competently conclude contents.
At the time of Ju 88 introduction, Medcalf maintains, “if not the most advanced medium bomber in the world, it was certainly very near the top of the list”. By war’s end, however, Junkers’ classic combatant largely rusted on the ash heap of history.
Sic transit gloria mundi. Find out how it all happened. Get this excellent effort – both volumes!
My sincere thanks to Specialty Press for this review sample!