Green Hearts: First in combat with the Dora 9
by Axel Urbanke
Eagle Editions Ltd, 1998

352 pages, $85.00

When I first heard of this book, I asked myself if it was worth the rather hefty price tag.  Would it be a good reference for modeling?  Would it be interesting to read?  Frankly, the price tag kept me away from it for a while, but when I actually saw the book, felt the double thick glossy pages, saw the quality of the book itself, read a few entries and looked at the illustrations, I knew that I had to have it.  

At this writing, I am about half way through the 352 pages and cannot put it down.  Alex Urbanke has taken what could easily have been just a dreary listing of events and made it into drama.  Years of interviewing surviving members, their spouses, and other involved people as well as pouring over official documents, letters home, and diaries have melded into a fascinating story.  

The introduction of the FW-190D-9 into combat provides the backdrop of this book.  It goes into the day to day operation of III/JG 54 and JG 26 and thier operation of the Dora 9.  Interspersed in the book are double page foldout illustrations of aircraft in the book.  Most of them are FW-190D aircraft, but there are a few others that are interesting.  

As you can see from the example below, there is a wealth of information accompanying each illustration. Data on all aspects of the aircraft, including color scheme and markings as well as pilot, unit and date. These illustrations are taken from photos, none of which I have seen before.  As you might expect, there is some discrepancy in actual color scheme between this book and other illustrations I have seen in other media of the same aircraft, but that is to be expected when trying to differentiate colors from a (often dim) black and white photograph. 

Overall, my impression of the book is very positive.  Despite the low number of aircraft photos, the author has succeeded in capturing what it was like to bring a new aircraft into operation when most of the available pilots were very young and poorly trained to use it effectively. If you can afford the price and are really into unit histories or the 190D, then I recommend this book without hesitation.

Scott Van Aken