Saw a request for info on this book a while back but don't believe I ever posted the review here - sorry so late. As expected of anything that Wyngarden touches, it reeks of excellence. This is my review, originally published at IndySquadron.com.
Hope it's helpful to someone. I'll probably post a few of our other book reviews here, too.
Jagdstaffel 2 'Boelcke'
Von Richthofen's Mentor
Publisher: Osprey Publishing
Author: Greg Van Wyngarden
Format: Softcover, 128 pages
Price: $22.95 US/$29.95 CAN
Several of ISD's book reviews have covered Osprey's excellent "Aircraft of the Aces" series, but this tome belongs to its sister series called "Aviation Elite Units." We won't bore you with additional superlatives about the work of author Greg Vanwyngarden, but simply suffice to say that this volume lives up to the standard of excellence set by it's predecessors.
The book positions itself as the story of the unit that created Manfred von Richthofen
, Germany's famed "Red Baron." And indeed, the claim is legitimate for it was Oswald Boelcke
, the alleged father of modern fighter aviation, who personally recruited Richthofen into Jasta 2. Fittingly, "Jagdstaffel 2 Boelcke" begins with the story of Boelcke himself even prior to the establishment of true fighter squadrons within the German Air Service. The treatment is long enough to establish interest and offer a firm look at Boelcke's background, but it does not delve so deeply as to lose focus on the book's main theme.
"Jagdstaffel 2 Boelcke" then launches into a month-by-month breakdown of the unit's history, which doesn't fail to thrill readers with its insightful and descriptive accounts of the major aerial engagements of J.2's pilots. Vanwyngarden relies heavily on diaries, letters and personal memories to establish what life and death in a German fighter squadron was actually like.
The work is of superb quality, but what really makes this book special is the inclusion of a number of items that take the reader by surprise. For instance, a rare photograph of Manfred von Richthofen is found on page 27, depicting the Baron in a light colored sweater with his back to the camera as he apparently tries to take a photograph of his own Albatros at Lagnicourt airfield. Another remarkable photo shows the Albatros DV of Ltn. Karl Gallwitz
smashed into the side of a building. No fewer than eleven pages of color plates are offered, showing the paint schemes of numerous planes from both famed aces and lesser-known pilots.
Wyngarden also treats us to a first-hand description of the German unit's final fight of the war, just one week prior to the Armistice, when they engaged the Sopwith Snipes of Australia's No. 4 Squadron in one of the most intense dogfights of the war.
Overall, "Jagdstaffel 2 Boelcke" is readable, well researched and never fails to entertain with historical insight and a fantastic array of photos. It is highly recommended.