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Fw 190 Defence of the Reich Aces

Fw 190 Defence of the Reich Aces Book Review

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review February 2011 Title Fw 190 Defence of the Reich Aces
Author John Weal Publisher Osprey Publishing
Published 2011 ISBN 978-1-84603-482-4
Format 96 pages, softcover MSRP (USD) $22.95


In the early part of World War Two, the Luftwaffe enjoyed its 'home court' advantage as it not only maintained air superiority over the continent, it could also easly take the fight to its adversaries. When the Luftwaffe was unable to achieve air superiority over Britain, the RAF was still not able to effectively affect the Luftwaffe's dominance over the continent. As the US entered the war and began its daylight bombardment campaign over Europe in concert with the RAF's own nighttime bombardment campaign, the Luftwaffe was forced to pull front line combat units back to defend the Reich. As the allies improved its targeting, bombing, and bomber escort capabilities, more critical targets fell to the combined 8th AF and Bomber Command effort. This, in turn, resulted in more resources being pulled from the Russian Front and elsewhere to defend Luftwaffe airfields and German industry.

While the early operations were more of a hunt for the Luftwaffe, the growing number of allied aircraft operating over the continent provided a turkey shoot initially, but as allied air commanders refined their tactics and defenses, each German aerial victory became more and more dangerous and soon the Luftwaffe was not only losing aircraft, it was also losing valuable pilots and experienced flight leaders. While allied losses were replaced rather quickly, the constant attacks on German industry made it increasingly difficult for Germany to replace its own combat losses. The war of attrition had finally shifted and the German air defense forces were getting stretched thin.

After D-Day and the growing allied foothold on the continent, allied airpower was able to be forward-deployed onto the continent for quicker response as well as greater range into German airspace. Tired of the defense stance it had been forced into by the allies, the Luftwaffe developed a bold plan under the name of Operation Bodenplatte to sweep the forward allied airfields. While Bodenplatte did succeed in damaging or destroying allied aircraft on the ground, the action came at a catastrophic cost in Luftwaffe aircraft and pilots.

This title drills into the details of the Luftwaffe air defense forces, specifically with the units that operated the Focke Wulf Fw 190. Coverage of this title includes:

  • Guardians of the Northern Shores
  • Signal Victories and Growing Losses
  • 'Big Week', Berlin and Oil
  • The Long Road to Defeat

This title is well-illustrated with period photography of the men and machines that performed the overlooked 'Defense of the Reich' air defense missions as well as a nice selection of color profiles illustrating some of the color schemes worn by the Fw 190A, Fw 190D, and Ta 152. While the selection of 32 color profiles is good, the author didn't include a 'color key' that identified the colorful Reichs Defense bands on the rear fuselage to specific fighter groups.

While much has been written on the offensive tactical air units of the Luftwaffe, this is a nice gap-filler to look at the aces on the defensive team.

My sincere thanks to Osprey Publishing for this review sample!