The Experimental Units of Hitler's Condor Legion

Author/Artists: Rafael Permuy Lopez & Lucas Molina Franco

Publisher/Distributor

Frontline

Price

$24.95 MSRP from Casemate

Reviewer:

Scott Van Aken

Notes: 104 pages, lots of photos and illustrations, 7.5 x 9.75", paperback, ISBN 978-1-4738-7891-4

Many enthusiasts are aware of the Condor Legion. This was when the Germans sent troops and equipment to help fellow fascist, Franco, in his war against the Nationalists in Spain. We also know that the German military used this war as a testing ground for ne equipment.

What most do not realize is that there were specific experimental units when it came to testing aircraft. These were generally prototype or early production planes and what was learned during this time determined either modifications that were needed or even whether a type was useful for combat.

This book looks at two units; VJ.88 for fighters and VB.88 for bombers.

The fighter section is first and it covers the operational use of the very early prototypes of the Bf-109 along with a single prototype of the He-112, the canon armed v3 or third prototype. The authors not only cover most of the operational sorties by these planes but have charts showing the number of missions flown. Not surprisingly, as the 109 was chosen over the 112, most of the info in this section is on the 109 prototypes. I found it particularly interesting that both the 109s and 112 initially had three blade props and while there are photos of the 112 with this set up, unfortunately, there are none of the 109v2 so equipped. There are also photos of the 112B production version, which Spain eventually purchased. Also included in this unit were the prototypes of the Ju-87. The 112 was a great ground attack plane thanks to its cannon, but apparently it was not frequently flown and saw little in the way of air to air combat.

The other unit was for bombers and here we had early He-111, Ju-86 and Do-17 aircraft. All apparently worked fairly well, but the Ju-86 was hampered by its rather unreliable diesel engines. Not many more of a handful of these planes were ever available, but they did carry out a number of missions and several were lost to enemy fire and fighters.

Eventually both units were disbanded about half way through the war with some of the planes going to the regular units and some to the Spaniards while others were returned to Germany.

It is pretty obvious that the authors did a lot of primary research with this one and I very much enjoyed reading this one. It is pretty image intensive, which is a boon for modelers. I did notice some caption errors, especially regarding the He-112 as there are several images of the v3 prototype which are captioned as the 112B-0. However, most of us will not find this to be much of an issue and it certainly does not detract from the overall book, which is excellent.

I very much enjoyed reading this one and as such, have no problem recommending it to you.

August 2017

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