Next up in Osprey's Big Reveal we have the Aircraft of the Aces series, which will be seeing four additional titles in 2017.
Jagdgeschwader 53 ‘Pik-As’ Bf 109 Aces of 1940
Boasting pilots who had been blooded in the Spanish Civil War, Jagdgeschwader 53 (JG 53) ‘Pik As’ or ‘Ace of Spades’ achieved great success in the skies over France and Britain in 1940. Among the leading aces were Werner Mölders, Rolf Pingel and Hans Karl Mayer, all of whom received the Knight’s Cross for their successes in aerial combat. The successes of its pilots resulted in JG 53 being credited with 258 victories following the Battle of Britain for the loss of 51 pilots killed or captured. This study follows the aces of JG 53 into battle, telling the stories of their victories, losses, and ultimate fate.
MiG-21 Aces of the Vietnam War
Having honed their skills on the subsonic MiG-17, pilots of the VPAF received their first examples of the legendary MiG-21 supersonic fighter in 1966. Soon thrown into combat over North Vietnam, the guided-missile equipped MiG-21 proved a deadly opponent for the USAF, US Navy and US Marine Corps crews striking at targets deep into communist territory. Although the communist pilots initially struggled to come to terms with the fighter’s air-search radar and weapons systems, the ceaseless cycle of combat operations quickly honed their skills. Indeed, by the time the last US aircraft (a B-52) was claimed by the VPAF on 28 December 1972, no fewer than 13 pilots had become aces flying the MiG-21, with five more claiming four victories. The best fighter then available to the VPAF, more than 200 MiG-21s (of various sub-types) were supplied to the North Vietnamese.
Jagdgeschwader 1 ‘Oesau’ Aces 1939-45
Formed shortly after the outbreak of World War 2, and equipped with Messerschmitt Bf 109Es, Jagdgeschwader 1 was initally tasked to defend the regional North Sea and Baltic coastal areas and the Reich's main port cities and naval bases. The greatest task for JG 1 though came after 1942 in its defence of the Reich against the US Eighth Air Force’s B-17s and B-24s, bearing the brunt of defence against increasingly regular, larger and deep penetration USAAF daylight bomber raids with fighter escort. Levels of attrition subsequently grew, but so did experience among the leading aces who were often the subject of propaganda films and literature.
Allied Jet Killers of World War 2
Allied fighter pilots began encountering German jets – principally the outstanding Me 262 fighter – from the autumn of 1944. Stunned by the aircraft’s speed and rate of climb, it took USAAF and RAF units time to work out how to combat this deadly threat as the Luftwaffe targeted the medium and heavy bombers attacking targets across the Reich. It was soon discovered the best way to down a jet was to attack it when it was preparing to land after its mission has been completed. Occasionally, a pilot would get lucky and hit a jet whilst it was attacking bombers, knocking out an engine that then slowed the fighter enough for it to be caught up and shot down. A number of high-scoring aces from the Eighth Air Force (Drew, Glover, Meyer, Norley and Yeager, to name but a few) succeeded in claiming Me 262s, Me 163 and Ar 234s during the final months of the campaign, as did RAF aces like Tony Gaze and ‘Foob’ Fairbanks flying Spitfires and Tempests. The exploits of both famous and little-known pilots will be chronicled in this volume, detailing how they pushed their aircraft to the limits of their performance in order to down the Luftwaffe's 'wonder weapons'.
Which of these will you be adding to your collection? Let us know in the comments section below!