For non-Germans, the commentary may appear to be rewriting history but it is a German perspective that reflects the attitudes at the time when the original war film was shot. In this DVD the archive film has been well selected and is accompanied by bonus archive films and photo galleries. At the start of WWII, the Luftwaffe was primarily divided into fighter squadrons and into squadrons supporting the German Army. Effort had gone into building bombers that were twin engine tactical machines and single engine dive bombers that could be used as terror bombers on cities, after air superiority had been won by the fighters.
NAME: German Fighter Squadrons
CLASSIFICATION: Video,DVD, reviews
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword Military, History Films
MEDIA: One DVD
FORMAT: Dual layer
RUNTIME: 55 minutes
PLAYERS: Personal Computer, Mac Computer, DVD Player
PRICE: GB £15.99
DESCRIPTION: Pen & Sword Military have published a series of video documentaries produced by the German History Films production company. This produces a common format for these documentaries with a commentary choice of English or German. A major component is war film from German archives. The production quality is very good and the German commentary is the authentic voice. The English commentary is a straight forward translation of the German and in parts can seem ponderous. For non-Germans, the commentary may appear to be rewriting history but it is a German perspective that reflects the attitudes at the time when the original war film was shot. In this DVD the archive film has been well selected and is accompanied by bonus archive films and photo galleries. At the start of WWII, the Luftwaffe was primarily divided into fighter squadrons and into squadrons supporting the German Army. Effort had gone into building bombers that were twin engine tactical machines and single engine dive bombers that could be used as terror bombers on cities, after air superiority had been won by the fighters. There were relatively small numbers of maritime patrol aircraft and transports. The principle German fighter was the Bf109 which at the start of WWII was slightly inferior to the British Hurricane and markedly inferior to the Spitfire. As the war developed, the 109 continued in production and was progressively updated to improve performance, making it superior to the Hurricane and engaging in a development race with the Spitfire. The FW 190 introduced a new level of capability, but never replaced the 109. Too late to influence the air war German jet aircraft entered service but never met the first British jets in combat. This DVD provides a close look from the German view point using German archive war film. Also included is USAAF film of bomber formations. In reviewing DVD material it can be difficult to understand what the publisher is attempting to achieve, because what is really one topic is broken into a number of DVD issues. In the case of this video, there is what may seem to be a disproportionate amount of footage of tank warfare and the use of bombers in what is titled as a fighter squadron story. It is very easy to dismiss such a DVD as being poorly designed and scripted. It may be more accurate to view this as a poor title for what is a selection of very interesting video material. From reviewing a number of History Films DVDs, the primary objective seems to be the packaging of rare footage and footage not previously available for public viewing under a generic title. Unlike some documentaries produced for television broadcasting, the commentary is basic, not always well translated from the German original, and there is no feeling that the titled topic has been well researched. The enthusiast will consider the material well worth the cover price and concentrate on building a library of History Films DVDs. Collectively, the series may provide a very effective coverage of the topics titled. As a result, the purchaser will not be disappointed. To produce, specifically for straight to DVD distribution, a carefully researched and scripted view of the topic suggested by this DVD title, would almost certainly require a significantly higher retail price. This is part of the evolving market for DVD material. In contrast, a traditional printed paper book titled German Fighter Squadrons (during the Nazi era) would have started with the clandestine flying training in Russia, with details of the aircraft used, the gliding clubs in Germany, moving on through the re-armament process and the Kondor Legion operations in Spain, to the Luftwaffe strength and composition in fighter aircraft at the start of WWII. The book would then continue on with an account of fighter aircraft, tactics and deployment through the jet and rocket squadrons in the closing stages of the war. The same effect could be produced by creating a set of DVDs, each similar to a chapter in a book. That may be where the DVD evolves to and along the way publishers may bundle printed paper and DVDs to produce composite information, together with links or access permission to on-line information. However, we will only reach that point by working through a series of stages and learning what works best. It is also easy to criticize some of the assertions in the commentary that appear to be a rewriting of history. National pride and perspective should be expected in any work from any country. There is a body of opinion in Germany that believes WWI was a German victory stolen by unknown political forces within Germany in much the same way that some French nationals consider Agincourt and Waterloo to really have been French victories. There is a body of opinion in Germany that believes World War Two was started by Britain and that Germany was forced to invade Poland to protect the Poles. That opinion also believes that the German invasion of Russia was a counter attack or a pre-emptive strike against an aggressor. Therefore in this DVD the expressed view that Germany was forced to invade Poland and Allied bombing of Germany was a war crime, whilst German bombing of Spain, Poland, and Britain was a military necessity, should not spoil the material contained in the DVD.