Bf-109 Recognition Manual


Marco Fernandez-Sommerau


Classic Publications, 2004


$59.95 from Specialty Press


Scott Van Aken

Notes: ISBN 1-903223-27-X

One thing I never tire of reading are books on the 109. It seems that no matter how many I have in the library, each one brings forth new information or details. So it is with this latest book from Classic Publications. 

A large format, hard bound book of 224 pages this one is not exactly what one would expect from its title. It is not so much as a recognition manual with photos/drawings of each of the various subtypes and explanations of what is the difference in terms of this scoop being here and the removal of that panel line, but more of the 'Guide to Variants, Weapons, and Equipment' subtitle. The photos are large and numerous with a very large number of them previously unseen by this reviewer.

There are basically six sections to the book. First up is the background and general history of the type. Next is what is termed a guide to recognition; going from the 109A to the K series. Third is a short history of the Spanish Hispano-powered 109J. There is then a goodly section on technical analysis of the aircraft including systems, electronics, and weapons with sections from the various tech manuals to provide illustrations. This section covers well over a third of the book. Then a section from prior pilots of the 109 to give a feel of what the aircraft was like to use as a weapon. Finally, a large photo gallery the encompasses about 30% of the book.

The general feel of the book is one of the very old Harleyford series, for those of you old enough to remember them. Unlike other books on aircraft types and variants, this one has no dedicated section that shows the specific detail differences from one sub-type to the next. The general feel of things as I read the book, was as if the author was unwilling to make any definitive statements about  some of  the variants. In many ways it is quite understandable as airframes were frequently rebuilt to the most recent standard, but the feeling of uncertainty never really left me, especially in the sections on the Bf-109E and G series. As an example, the later G model 109s that had the modified cowl bulges are not specifically identified by type as in other  more recent 109 publications, and there are no drawings at all of any 109 variants that might help to identify a specific aircraft. This last part is probably the greatest weakness of this book.

Despite this, the overall book is very well done. If one is looking for more than a guide to the various sub-types, then this book will offer plenty of other information and insight. It is a book that I know every 109 fan will want to have on the library shelves.

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