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Book Review
Jagdgeschwader 1 ‘Oesau’ Aces
Jagdgeschwader 1 ‘Oesau’ Aces 1939-45
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Originally published on:

Jagdgeschwader 1 ‘Oesau’ Aces 1939-45 is a new book from Osprey Publishing LTD. Modelers of the Luftwaffe can find quite a lot of inspiration in this book. JG 1 sported some of the most un-Luftwaffe markings of the Jagdwaffe, with red chins, black and white checkerboards, and bold stripes flashing from cowlings of Focke-Wulf fighters. Many images present good detail of the aircraft and pilot uniforms. There are several that just scream to be reproduced in a diorama.

This title is part of their Aircraft of the Aces series. This 96-page softcover book was authored by Robert Forsyth and illustrated by Jim Laurier. The ISBN is 9781472822918 and Osprey's short code is ACE 134. Osprey describes the book;
    Formed shortly after the outbreak of World War 2, and equipped with Messerschmitt Bf 109Es, Jagdgeschwader 1 was initially tasked to defend the regional North Sea and Baltic coastal areas and Germany'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 penetrating 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.

    Many of Germany's most famous World War 2 aces flew with JG 1 including Herbert Ihlefeld (132 victories), Heinz Bär (220) and Walter Oesau (127), piloting Bf 109Es, Fw 190s and the Heinkel 162 jet fighter. Packed with photographs and profile artwork and revealing first-hand accounts, this is the compelling story of the Luftwaffe fighter pilots who battled to defend the skies of Germany.

Jagdgeschwader 1 ‘Oesau’ Aces 1939-45 tells the history of this famous Jagdgeschwader through six chapters and supporting sections:
    Chapter 1: Guarding the Ramparts 1939-1942
    Chapter 2: Enemy at the Gates 1943
    Chapter 3: The Bastion Holds 1944
    Chapter 4: Invasion: The Fortress is Breached 1944
    Chapter 5: Last-Ditch 1944-1945
    Chapter 6: Volksjäger 1945

    Color Plates Commentary
    Selected bibliography

The story begins with author Forsyth relating that even in 1939, Germany was preparing strategic defensive fighter units for Reichluftverteidigung (RVL - Defense of the Reich). Guarding the Ramparts and Enemy at the Gates relates through 24 pages JG 1's formation and action from the invasion of France through contact with USAAF daylight bombers in June 1943.

The next 46 pages are devoted to the increasing tempo of fighting heavy bombers attacking Germany and occupied Europe. Despite the severe losses which included the renowned Walter Oesau, the end of 1944 saw USAAF to warn, 'It would be a mistake to conclude that the enemy fighter problem has been licked...'

The text includes many first-hand accounts including;
    Around 1332 hrs we spotted between 250-300 Boeings flying in two large formations. As I was not able to jettison my auxiliary tank, I lost contact with the Gruppe. I joined up with three fighters that were flying some 1500 m to the right of the Boeing "Pulk", which we were to attack. As I approached , I realized that they were three Thunderbolts. I positioned myself immediately behind these three Thunderbolts, but at exactly the same moment I was fired upon by a fourth Thunderbolt, and I dropped down to around 5000 m away from the formation. I attempted, at full power, to rejoin our own fighters. Since, after about three-four minutes flying time, I did not succeed in doing this, I decided to make a lone attack.
Another account by Hauptmann Olejnik, ...recounted what it took to bring a B-17 down;
    'I attacked a bomber to the left of the formation from behind and slightly below. After my third attack, black smoke escaped from its right engine. Little by little, the enemy aircraft became detached from its group, but managed to correct itself 100 m behind, losing 80 m of height in the process - a very uncomfortable position for it, as it could no longer count on the protection of its colleagues. It released its bombs, which was the prudent thing to do. During my fourth attack, the aircraft went out of control. Engulfed in flames, it made three large turns to the left. Seven crewmen bailed out. At 4000 m the turns became tighter. The right wing broke off, followed by the left wing. The fuselage continued to dive and hit the ground in a wood near Darmstadt. Three men were probably still in the aircraft.'

Not all accounts are of air combat. JG 1 was the unit to receive the He 162 Salamnder and one pilot recalls some traits of the jet;
    'When the engine was started up, an unusually loud noise came from the
    turbine, The aircraft, small and light, with a huge engine on its back, made such a din rolling on the runway that one was relieved when it lifted off. The wheels left the ground at a speed of 220 km/h. Acceleration was good and a normal runway sufficed. In flight, the aircraft was stable and quiet. It responded easily to the controls. In the dive, according to factory information, we could reach the speed of sound. Lacking experience on the type, and having doubts as to the solidity of the undercarriage, I always touched down as gently as possible. After a very short flight, it would land, and once again the noise became appalling.'

Those final days of the war and the He 162 are presented through 13 pages.

The text is detailed and easy to read. One should understand that this is an overview of the aces of JG 1 and not intended as a thorough unit history.

Photographs, Artwork, Graphics
Most of the pages have at least one photograph. Many will be familiar to those who have read several books on the Jagdwaffe and yet I found many new to me. Pilots or aircraft are the subjects. These photographs range from studio quality to crude reproductions.

Artist Jim Laurier created 33 full-color profiles of Bf 109, Fw 190, and He 162 fighters. They capture the various unit and personal markings of the pilots who flew with JG 1. Each profile has a caption and is keyed to a detailed description in the color plates commentary.

At the end of the text are two pages bearing three appendices:

1. Senior Executive Officers Jagdgeschwader 1

2. Pilots of JG 1 who became recipients of the Knight's Cross

3. Pilots with 6 four-engined victories who served with JG 1

Plenty to inspire modelers of the Luftwaffe!

Jagdgeschwader 1 ‘Oesau’ Aces 1939-45 is a good book to acquaint modelers and historians to JG 1 in particular, and the Jagdwaffe in general. I find the text to be detailed and easy to read. Graphic support presents plenty to inspire modelers. I appreciate the detailed text with first-hand accounts.

It is hard for me to complain objectively about this book. One should understand that this is an overview of the aces of JG 1 and is not intended as a thorough unit history. As such I am impressed with the book and recommend it.

Please remember to mention to vendors and retailers that you saw this book here - on Aeroscale.
Highs: Thirty-three full-color profiles of fighters. Detailed text including first-hand accounts.
Lows: Subjective.
Verdict: This is a good book to acquaint modelers and historians to JG 1 in particular, and the Jagdwaffe in general.
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: 9781472822918
  Suggested Retail:  $23.00
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Jan 03, 2018

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About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright ©2021 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of ModelGeek. All rights reserved.


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