Classic Publications | Sturmstaffel 1 - Reich Defence 1943-1944 The War Diary

Reviewed by Mark Proulx

Classic Publications
"Sturmstaffel 1"
Reich Defence 1943-1944 The War Diary
by Eric Mombeek with Robert Smith and Eddie J. Creek

Sturmstaffel 1 was the pioneering unit of Luftwaffe to fly the heavily armed FW 190 into close firing position with the American heavy bomber forces. The tactics of mass and repeated attacks by an entire formation of German fighter aircraft was believed to be one of the answers to what was becoming an increasingly desperate situation. Pilots of Sturmstaffel 1 signed an oath to destroy at least one bomber on every mission:

"I volunteer for the Sturmstaffel of my own free will. I am aware of the basic objective of the Staffel...The enemy will be shot down at the closest range. If that becomes impossible, ramming will be the only alternative... The Sturm pilot will remain with the damaged bomber until the aircraft impacts. If these fundamentals are violated, I will face a court martial or will be removed from the unit..."

It is during this turbulent time in the airwar that Mombeek, Smith and Creek bring the exploits of Sturmstaffel 1 to life. Printed on 96 pages of thick, high quality paper, the authors go to great length to show us the conditions leading up to the formation of this unit. Then, they vividly detail the fight for life that these pilots endured on a daily basis during the brief six month history of the Staffel. Numerous photos throughout the text bring the reader some insight of the individuals that flew for the Staffel and the aircraft that they were assigned to.

Tom Tullis and Dennis Davidson have supplied the superb color profiles of many of the assigned aircraft. Notes on camouflage are also included with the full page side profiles. Arthur Bentley supplies excellent technical illustrations that show the heavily armed FW 190A's that equipped the Staffel. Throughout the book, drawings, cutaways and photo presentations help illustrate the modifications that were required on these aircraft. The pilots were then able to survive their deadly, close in tactic, and achieve some measure of success. This will be of invaluable assistance to those wishing to try to duplicate this modification on their models.

The book is completed with a pilot roster, and of course, the ever important references. History would show how effective this tactic was. Unfortunately, these heavily armoured aircraft had deteriorated so badly, they had difficulty maneuvering, thus requiring fighter escorts.

As stated in the introduction of the book, this is the first time that the story of Sturmstaffel 1 has been presented in English. The passing of time and lack of records will probably ensure that their complete history will never be known. At least the authors have gone some distance in answering many questions.

This soft cover text is published by Classic Publications, who rank as one of the best publishers on the topic of the airwar in WW II. Without hesitation I would rank this book with five out of five stars. No reference library would complete without it.

© Mark Proulx

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This review was published on Saturday, July 02 2011; Last modified on Wednesday, May 18 2016