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Heinkel He 177 Units of World War 2

Heinkel He 177 Units of World War 2 Book Review

By David L. Veres

Date of Review September 2018 Title Heinkel He 177 Units of World War 2
Author Robert Forsyth Publisher Osprey Publishing
Published 2018 ISBN 9781472820396
Format 96 pages, softbound MSRP (USD) $23.00


Robert Forsyth details and dissects Nazi Germany's sole production heavy bomber in Heinkel He 177 Units of World War 2 – 123rd title in Osprey's "Combat Aircraft" range.

The first three chapters recap the Greif's (Griffon's) torturous gestation. Adapting the troubled, "coupled" Daimler-Benz DB 606 power plant to Heinkel's bomber proved both daunting and dangerous. And demands that the airframe be suitable for dive-bombing nearly crippled the program.

Rushed into service, the He 177's troublesome engines – its "Achilles heel" – exposed the design, as a Luftwaffe officer at Stalingrad dryly noted, to "'vulnerability to technical failure'."

Aircraft reliability and readiness rates plummeted. Hitler himself, Forsyth reports, branded the bomber a "rattletrap … obviously the worst junk ever to have been manufactured".

Still, Heinkel's bomber did see service. And a trio of ensuing chapters discuss primary He 177 missions in operational contexts with KG 40, KG 100, and KG 1.

The first recounts maritime attack and reconnaissance tasks – including mixed-results air strikes with Henschel HS 293 guided missiles. A second surveys bombing actions over England – the effects of which ultimately proved negligible. And a "Last Gasps" third chiefly recaps final, desperate He 177 use against Soviet targets.

Dozens of period shots with extended, explanatory captions augment the account. Jim Laurier's excellent color profiles further season the study. And color plate commentary, sources summary, and index wrap things up.


Did the P 1041 fuselage really feature semi-circular cross-section? Could that "heavy stipple" on He 177 A-1 VD+XN be RLM 72 or 73, instead? Don't expect any annotations for further study. Oh, and a colon [:] – not a semicolon [;] – properly precedes body quotes.

Make this slim study your introduction to Heinkel's hazardous Griffon.


My sincere thanks to Osprey Publishing for this review sample!