This book contains some truly outstanding and rare photographs. The text is well-written and supports the lavish illustration. The subject was one of the first generation combat jets and aviation enthusiasts will welcome its new insights.
NAME: Hitler’s Spyplane Over Normandy 1944
CATEGORY: Book Reviews
AUTHOR: Philippe Bauduin
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: hard back
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: First generation jets, jet bomber, jet reconnaissance aircraft, German Air Force, technology, photo reconnaissance, photo interpretation
DESCRIPTION: This book contains some truly outstanding and rare photographs. The text is well-written and supports the lavish illustration. The subject was one of the first generation combat jets and aviation enthusiasts will welcome its new insights.
The author was a photo interpreter in the French Air Force and brings a special view of the AR234. His enthusiasm for his subjects may be questioned by some readers but this is a good translation of his work into English and any bias towards some aspects of the book is fair comment from an author who has researched his subject well and drawn his own conclusions.
The difficulties surrounding early jet combat aircraft and a desire to claim ‘firsts’ inevitably introduces some controversy. It was a pioneering era when several people independently came to some discoveries at around the same time. A Briton, Whittle, can fairly claim to have invented the jet engine as a practical locomotive force. He was poorly supported and opportunities were lost. The Germans took the axial configuration approach while the delayed British designs took the centrifugal configuration in their engine design. Both approaches had merits and weaknesses. At the time, some argue, the British approach was much more suitable to the available materials and claim that British engines were more reliable and delivered the expected thrust. They were also slower to spool up than the German axial jets which reduced initial acceleration when Meteor and Vampire pilots needed to increase speed.
In the event, the British and the Germans introduced prototypes and then production warplanes at around the same time but the respective aircraft were never to meet in combat. This was as much to do with the state of the war than anything else. The Germans were desperate for magic solutions as they were forced back and the Allies established air supremacy in Europe, The Americans were to rely initially on British technology when they began to start design and construction of first generation jet combat aircraft. The British had a large number of outstanding propeller aircraft in service of which the Mosquito was to offer much of the benefits of jet warplanes, but with amazing multi-role capability and the reliability of piston engines and propellers. In the closing stages of WWII in Europe, even the best German designs would not have justified wholesale replacement of the Mosquito and in its bomber and reconnaissance roles it directly compared favourably with the AR234.
The AR234 suffered initially from a temporary take off under carriage and landing skid and from twin jet engines that provided significantly less power than had been forecast. It was not until the AR234 was fitted with four engines that it came close to original performance expectations. The relatively slow rate of production, the inevitable teething problems and the very short hour life of its jet engines, meant that the AR234 was available in very small numbers, required the pilots to learn to use its advantages, and was really more of a prototype than a full service warplane.
The author has provided some very interesting insights and this book will be enjoyed by aviation enthusiasts.