The duel series is a new range of books from Osprey that retells the stories of the world’s greatest machines of war and the ace combatants who operated them. First-hand accounts and detailed analysis of individual engagements place the reader in the midst of the action, whether dogfight, tank battle or submarine hunt.
Each title follows the design and development of the opposing weapon systems in wartime, with accessible analysis of the technological and tactical innovations that led to victory or defeat. An array of technical drawings, photographs and full-color digital illustrations, including "gun sight views," depict the key aspects of these machines in wartime.
The authors and illustrators are Martin Bowman, who has written over a dozen titles on the Mighty Eighth. Jim Laurier who's has commissions for paintings of the U.S Air Force in the Pentagon and finally Mark Postlethwaite who produces the cover artwork for the Aces and Combat aircraft series for Osprey.
The first part gives us a bite size history lesson with a tactical overview of the operation and deployment of each plane.
A time line of important dates starting from Autumn 1937, with the development contract for the Fw 190, right through until May 1st 1945 with JG 51 flying some of the last German fighter missions of the war.
Design and Development
This chapter starts off with the development of the P-51 Mustang in 1940 when the British Purchasing Commission approached North American Aircraft about purchasing large numbers of P-40D's, with North American suggesting that a all new fighter could be built using the 1,150hp Allison V-1710-39 engine.
The Fucke Wulf Flugzeugbau was given a contract to produce a single seat interceptor fighter to supplement the existing Bf 109's. Under the Kurt Tank's direction, a design team lead by Oberingenieur Blaser created a low wing, fully retractable undercarriage aircraft that could be powered by either a in-line or radial engine.
A brief history of each version built, starting with the Mustang 1 through to the P-51K. The Fw 190 V1 and V2 prototypes to the Fw 190A-8/R11 with a sub chapter concerning the Fw 190D-9 and Ta 152H.
This chapter also has a "view from the cockpit" which tells what it was like sitting in the cockpit of each aircraft. A set of colour digital drawings showing the inside of the cockpits with a numbered list of all the knobs, switches and dials are featured on the next two pages.
A match up of the two aircraft against each other, through speed, climb, maneuvering and turning circles is also explored in this chapter.
The Strategic Situation
This chapter mainly concerns the Mustang with Fighter Group bases around the South of England, fuel ranges into Germany and the Low Countries and the need for Fighter escorts for the Eighth Air Force bombers. A part of the chapter covers the fuel load of the Mustang with added internal and external tanks and how and which order they were used in to be able to dogfight without sacrificing handling characteristics.
A small part of the chapter covers production numbers of the Fw 190.
Starting of with the basic training of both sets of pilots, which contains a history of training schools, all the way through to advanced training and then deployment to combat units.
Tactics, weapons, biographies of a couple of Aces, gun-sight views and first hand accounts of combat from both sets of adversary's.
Statistics and Analysis
Covering the rapid expansion of the bombing campaign over the European Theater of Operations (ETO) and the decline of experienced Luftwaffe pilots. The German kill scoring is also explained in this part.
A table showing the USAAF in the ETO with numbers of sorties flown, kill ratios, and loss rates per sortie compared to other Allied fighter types. Two more tables cover the Aces from both sides of the ETO.
A map of the major Luftwaffe "Sturm" bases is also included.
This chapter covers Mustangs based outside the ETO and Fw 190's produced with different armour plating, weapon and tropicalized configurations.
Two pages of lists of other publications that would be useful to further your reading interest on the subjects.
At 80 pages long with 43 black and white and 1 colour photo, 2 colour profiles of a Mustang and a Fw 190 and a few tables and graphs thrown in, this is a book that should appeal to a wider target area of people then a book solely dedicated to each aircraft. The interviews with pilots really make this book worthwhile as you get to feel how going into combat must have felt like which you wouldn't get with more technical minded manuals.
Personally a thought it was a very interesting read, with first hand accounts from test pilots and combatants on how each aircraft flew in each chapter. Although it never goes into serious detail about each aircraft, you get enough bite size chunks to get a general overview of the planes history, types and combat efficiency.
So how does this book benefit the us, the modeller. Well you get to learn more of the actual plane your modelling, the people who flew it plus there are some good reference pics, espeicially the graphics of the cockpits, which should come in handy for painting and detailing.
Highs: Interesting first hand accounts form personnel that were there.Lows: Never really goes into great detail.Verdict: A good start to the new series, which covers the development of both aircraft, plus tactics, crew and deployment. The human interest side of the book is well written and makes a nice change from the technical manuals.
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About Andy Brazier (betheyn) FROM: ENGLAND - SOUTH EAST, UNITED KINGDOM
I started modelling in the 70's with my Dad building Airfix aircraft kits. The memory of my Dad and I building and painting a Avro Lancaster on the kitchen table will always be with me. I then found a friend who enjoyed building models, and between us I think we built the entire range of 1/72 Airfi...