German Fighters


Bear Bait Over Russia
An He-111 pilot recalls the devastation
James Busha

Heinkel 111 Pilot Willi Kriessmann saw the war on the eastern front as it ground to a halt and became a bloody slug fest. From as low as 50 meters, Kriessmann had a front row seat for the destruction of Germany’s best fighting units as he flew mission after mission in an attempt to stem an unstoppable flood.

Iron Fist of the Luftwaffe
The Focke-Wulf 190 versus the Allied bomber
James Busha

Still in his teens, Oscar Boesch transitions from his Me 109 to the Fw 190 and became part of a Stormstaffel, a fighter unit that specialized in attacking Allied bombers. Their rules were simple: press home the attack as closely as possible and knock them down. If that tactic proves unsuccessful, then the bomber is to be rammed. For over a year, until the war’s end, Boesch stood between the flood of Allied bombers and his homeland and miraculously survived the war, one of very few in his unit who did.

Emergence of the Third Reich’s Luftwaffe
The great subterfuge and buildup
Warren Bodie

Historian emeritus, Warren Bodie, combines his extreme understanding of history with his vast photo collection to chronicle the rise of the Third Reich and its Luftwaffe. Although technically forbidden from having a military air force by the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, slowly but surely the German air industry began building first sports and commercial aircraft, then, when Hitler renounced the Treaty of Versailles, went full bore into military mode.

Flying the Bf-109
Two pilots give their reports
Eric Brown, Mark Hanna

The late Mark Hanna gave us his impressions of flying the Bf 109 from his close association with Messerschmitts he and his father had restored in England in the 1980s and ’90s. Capt. Brown, however, comes from a different viewpoint because he was a WW II British test pilot assigned to captured enemy aircraft while the war was still in progress.

Terror from Above
The Screamin’ Stuka Dive-bomber
Alfred Price

Hauptmann Melmut Mahlke flew the Ju 87 Stuka in combat from France, to the Battle of Britain, North Africa and, finally, Russia where he was critically wounded on his 145th mission. Author Price, through Mahlke’s words, takes us along on a series of missions that explain why the Stuka was so feared.

Butcher Bird vs Hellcat & Corsair
A test pilot recalls
Andy Andrews

In late 1944, Andy Anderson was a Wildcat pilot fresh from combat when he arrived at the new Navy flight test facility at Patuxent Naval Airstation in Maryland. There he was to fly a wide variety of different types of fighters, one of the first being a captured Fw 190. With no manuals and only his experience to guide him, he evaluated the aircraft against USN fighters and gives us his conclusions.

The Spoils of War
Captured German warplanes in the U.S. and UK
Warren Bodie

Literally hundreds of enemy aircraft were captured during WW II with the cream of the crop being brought back to England or the US where test pilots flew them. Warren Bodie lays out a photo album of former enemy aircraft that are having their secrets laid bare while wearing Allied markings.

Flying the Me 262
Willy Messerschmitt’s masterpiece
Eric Brown

Arguably the most advanced operationally aircraft of WW II, the Me 262 cut a wide swath through aviation technology with its appearance. Here was an airplane that could literally chew our best fighters to pieces and, with its huge speed advantage, break off the fight at will. Capt. Brown flew captured Me 262s during WW II at a time when the initial shock of their appearance was still just wearing off. Capt. Brown describes the Schwalbe’s most intimate details as seen from the cockpit.