Aviation Elite Jagdgeschwader 51 Molders Osprey Books

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Great Book by Osprey Publishing. 128 pages
JG 51 is another of the Luftwaffes top wartime fighter units whose story has never been told in English (a brief unit history was published in Germany twenty years ago and a pictorial volume has appeared there since). This means the proposed work would be yet another first in Ospreys growing list of Luftwaffe Elite Unit titles, and should thus make it of interest not only to the collectors of the series, but also to that wider circle of enthusiasts whose fascination with the German Air Force of World War 2 and thirst for anything new on the subject shows no signs of abating even after the passing of 60 years! Although the seniormost of JG 51s four component Gruppen could trace its history back to the pre-war biplane era, the Geschwader was not constituted as such until after the outbreak of hostilities. From then on, however, it remained in the thick of the fighting until the final surrender of May 1945. And while much of its operational career was spent on the Eastern Front (another aspect of the war in the air relatively neglected to date by English publishers), the Geschwader played significant roles in both the Battles of France and Britain beforehand, and also saw extensive service in the Mediterranean theatre North Africa, Sicily, Italy and the Balkans - and in Defence of the Reich in action against Anglo-American forces. The units history encapsulates the fortunes of the Luftwaffes fighter arm as a whole - the heady successes of the early months, the steady attrition and the growing strength of the opposition during the mid-war years, and the final chaos and collapse of the last days. The story works on other levels too. The diversity of aircraft types flown the aforementioned biplanes, both Messerschmitt and Focke-Wulf fighters, and even twin-engined ground-attack machines will provide for an interesting mix of hitherto unpublished illustrations, and the wide variety of colour profiles (and unit badges) available will be a bonus for the modelling fraternity. But it is perhaps the details of the pilots who served with the Geschwader which sets JG 51 apart from other Luftwaffe units. During the course of the war it numbered more Knights Cross winners among its ranks than any other. And it is their stories their successes, exploits and eventual fates which brings a history such as this to life, from the Geschwaders most famous Kommodore, Werner Mlders (after whom the unit would be named following the formers death in an air accident) down to the newest and lowliest NCO pilot. In all, JG 51 claimed nearly 9000 enemy aircraft destroyed, but it cost the unit close on 700 pilots. Nevertheless, a success ratio of more than 12-to-1!