I recently reviewed the book Airframe Album No. 1 – The Heinkel He 219 ‘Uhu’: A Detailed Guide to the Luftwaffe’s Ultimate Nightfighter (Airframe Album). This title is the first in a series of detailed profile style books of famous aircraft, the two other titles being on the Hawker Sea Fury and the CAC Boomerang. The book is illustrated with photos of the restored Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (NASM) airframe and contains colour profiles and camouflage detail and 3D isometric views of all variants.
Airframe Album No. 1 – The Heinkel He219 Uhu
A Detailed Guide to The Luftwaffe’s Ultimate Nightfighter
By Richard A Franks
Series: Airframe Album
Glossy paperback: 100 Pages with photographs and profile drawings
Published by Valiant Publications 8 West Grove, Bedford MK40, 4BT, UK (September 3, 2012)
Dimensions: 11.6 x 8.1 x 0.3 inches
The German aircraft industry during WW11 produced many excellent aircraft and was extremely innovative in the design and construction of many leading edge machines.
The industry was however crippled by many factors outside its control which in the end caused it to fail in its primary objective of providing sufficient numbers of high quality aircraft to the Luftwaffe before the allied forces overwhelmed it in numbers and quality.
The decisions made by Hitler and the General staff shackled the German aviation industry in forcing it to modify aircraft designed as fighters to become bombers as well, such as the Me262. Delayed production of innovative designs and in general introduced an environment of chaos into the industry.
Allied bombing was also a critical factor, hampering the production of much needed aircraft. The rate of production and the numbers of skilled trained pilots available as attrition replacements was also telling.
Into this environment was injected the subject of this book review, the Heinkel He 219. The aircraft was an excellent platform as a night fighter, one of the first dedicated night fighters ever built. It was innovative having features such as ejection seats and sophisticated radar.
This book is the first of a series entitled Airframe Album 1, The Heinkel He219 “Uhu” (translates as “Eagle Owl”) follows the same structure as the recently reviewed CAC Boomerang title of the same series. As such it is an easy read and an excellent layout.
Only one complete He219 exists and it has been recently restored in NASM the USA. The author was able to access a huge amount of material gathered during the restoration of this aircraft and it has added significantly to the quality of the publication.
The publication starts with a preface detailing the genesis of the aircraft, its design, production and service. It is here that I have an issue with the author’s treatment of the subject as some statements are made about the type’s performance which other texts on the subject fail to verify. Statements about the speed and maneuverability for instance seem at odds with other sources and are not supported by reference to data. In general, however the book does a good workman like job of describing the aircraft, its systems and the detail of the design and its variants as well as projected variants.
As with the CAC Boomerang volume in the same series there are some minor captioning issues in a couple of the photos, however in general the captioning of diagrams and photos are excellent and very informative. I am reviewing this text from a slightly biased perspective as I have recently visited the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in the USA and seen the actual surviving He219 at very close quarters. Moreover I must confess to being a real fan of the design.
There is also good reference in the book to the allied seizure, evaluation and study of a number of He219s in the UK and USA postwar which is very interesting.
As usual a section covers the plastic scale models available as well as details of the Camouflage and Markings applied to the various operational aircraft with some beautiful profile art work. Lastly there is a section detailing the other available publications on the type which I found very useful.
I was very impressed in general with the publication. It makes full use of period photographs of many different He219 variants as well as modern pictures and diagrams of the survivor W/Nr 290202 a He 219A-2. As with any source of information, facts recorded in this publication should be referenced against other publications on the type.
It would be very useful to an enthusiast and/or a modeler and should be included in the library of any serious German aircraft fan.
It is available from the publishers, on EBay or Amazon books.
© John Parker 2014