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Luftwaffe Fighter Aircraft in Profile, by Claes Sundin and Christer Bergstrom, Schiffer Military History, Atglen, Pa., $35.

At long last, a superb study has been painstakingly produced that will satisfy historians as well as modelers and vintage aircraft enthusiasts. Luftwaffe Fighter Aircraft in Profile contains no less than 124 full-color profiles showing Luftwaffe single-engine types throughout the early, middle and final years of the war and also touches on the twin-engine types, including the jet-powered Messerschmitt Me-262.

In addition to including all the markings of the Messerschmitt Me-109 and Focke Wulf Fw-190, the artwork in this detailed study provides color schemes of the German rocket fighters and the jet-propelled Heinkel He-162 Volksjäger. Each elaborate and accurate profile is accompanied by very clear war-era photos of the actual aircraft. Biographical sketches of many pilots of the German air force are also provided. Some of these men are famous, but others are not so well-known.

Luftwaffe Fighter Aircraft in Profile fills a long-neglected void, providing readers with formerly unknown paint schemes, patterns and markings. Illustrator Claes Sundin and author Christer Bergstrom are experienced and skilled, and the expertise they bring to the work is highly complementary. The information on fighter camouflage is extensive and broken down by years. The early, freewheeling years of Luftwaffe aerial superiority are reflected in the bright coding and personal insignia painted on the aircraft during that era. Later in the war, when the Germans were more on the defensive, the colors became more subdued, and the national insignias were less distinctive.

All of the colors authorized by the Reichluftfahrtministerium (RLM) for use on military aircraft are explained, and actual color chips are reproduced for the reader’s benefit. As a bonus, the authors also show how these colors would appear in black-and-white photos, enabling modelers to make correct decisions about colors that heretofore have been a matter of guesswork. Detailed reproductions of theater markings, unit symbols and insignia abound.

Sundin created all of the aircraft profiles in a digital environment, using a Macintosh computer and Adobe Photoshop software. This process ensured that the image transferred onto the printed page was as accurate as possible. Most of the profiles in the book show the aircraft as they appeared during wartime conditions. Very few planes are presented as having a factory-fresh appearance, since the paint would have weathered and worn in a very short time. Faded paint, missing stenciling and overpainting have all been faithfully re-created in the profiles.

This volume serves as an excellent introduction to the history of the German Luftwaffe in World War II. At the same time, it is an indispensable resource for the serious aircraft modeler.

For the aviation enthusiast, Luftwaffe Fighter Aircraft in Profile offers a table of equivalent ranks (with color illustrations), the structure of the Luftwaffe and the German fighter command, and an informative table that lists Allied and German combat losses.

Ray A. Denkhaus