"Bf-109F/G/K Aces of the Western Front"


 John Weal




Tom Cleaver




Another winner from Osprey Publishing in their "Aircraft of the Aces" series. Given that the Messerschmitt Bf-109 in all its guises is one of the most popular subjects with modelers world-wide, this is an excellent addition to the available literature. As I have said before, for those modelers who left the hobby to chase girls at 13 and have returned in their 30s to get away from their kids, the Osprey series is the best single line of histories to provide general information with a good bit of specifics about the operational use of those airplanes one has built models of.

John Weal is generally better known as an aviation artist than he is as an aviation historian; unsurprisingly, however, it turns out that he is able to create the illustrations he does because of his extensive knowledge of his subject matter. He possesses one of the largest private collections of original German-language literature from World War II on the subject of the Luftwaffe and its aircraft, and also has extensive personal contacts with ex-Luftwaffe personnel, from Generals to ground crew. In addition to writing the book he has created all of the profiles, many of which this reviewer is glad to see because they end once and for all such discussions as "did JG2 Bf-109Fs have red cowlings?" Additionally, the photograph on page 81 of a Bf-109K-4 clearly demonstrates that at least one of these aircraft retained its mainwheel outer gear doors, which many "experten" among Luftwaffe modelers have claimed was not the case.

As is usual with the Osprey books, many of the photographs are previously unpublished, an accomplishment of no small moment when one considers just how many books on the subject of the Bf-109 have seen print. This reviewer found new knowledge in the author's presentation of the fact that the first Bf-109F-0 aircraft actually saw combat in the Battle of Britain during October and November 1940. Additionally, Weal's discussion of the various elite units that flew the 109 in the defense of the Reich provided new information. I was only able to find one statement that is not entirely accurate, and that involved the transition of III/JG26 from the Bf-109K-4 to the Fw-190D-9 in the Spring of 1945; actually, the Bf-109-equipped III Gruppe was disbanded, and the Dora 9-equipped III/JG54 which had flown with JG26 since the Fall of 1944, was re-numbered III/JG26. This is a point of very small moment, and in no way detracts from the rest of the book.

Highly recommended. Thanks to Squadron Mail Order for providing the review copy.