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Old 9th April 2019, 18:38
INM@RLM INM@RLM is offline
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Book Review: Robert Forsyth: Heinkel Units of World War 2 (published Osprey, July 2018)

I put together this review earlier this year and emailed it on 5th January 2019 to the MD of Osprey Publications along with a covering note. Beyond a brief acknowledgement of receipt there has been no response from Osprey.
The review mainly comprises corrections, many of which also apply to the earlier Smith+Creek Classic title on the Greif. The full review is posted here (including a few subsequent additions) together with the covering email to Osprey in case there is something here of interest for others. Maybe also, one day someone with the interest and relevant skills will actually choose the development and production of the He 177 as the subject for their PhD thesis, and perhaps even take me up on the arrangement that I offered in the initial instance to Osprey.
The core challenges in producing a title such as this are that, as yet, there is no settled and accurate ‘backstory’ for the He 177 series production versions, whilst on the other side, it is very simple to demonstrate the shortcomings in the story that has been presented and then parroted endlessly.
This review document is posted in both Open Office and Word 2013 versions, and for those with an interest in how the document was developed, there is also a separate Word 2013 Tracked Changes version.
My covering email to Osprey is below.


“Dear Sir/Madam,
Please find attached my review of Robert Forsyth’s recent title for Osprey: ‘Heinkel He 177 Units of World War 2’ (Combat Aircraft Series No 123).
It’s pretty extensive because it aims to highlight and to correct the most egregious mistakes in this book, and there were an awful lot of these. There are separate sections covering the text, colour profiles and photo captions. I’m afraid it does not make for pleasant reading, but then for a job done this badly, neither should it.
The review was too long to post on amazon in its entirety. So I ended up splitting it into three, posting most of the section on the colour profiles on the US amazon site, most the photo captions section on the UK site and the text section on the German site.
I attach here a copy of the complete review for your awareness and in case you decide to reprint a revised and corrected edition – as I think you should. This comes to you as a tracked-changes file in MS Word. That allows you to distinguish the few small adjustments I’ve made subsequently and also highlights the web site source references I’ve now added. (Any embedded URLs linking to non-amazon sites cannot be included in reviews on amazon.)
Should you ever find an author interested in preparing a serious and accurate study of the He 177, I would be happy to offer to share with them the material I have put together and talk them through it. That will give them a far better factual base to start from than anything that has been published on this aircraft so far. It will also save them a great deal of time. However, to take the story beyond this will require a genuine research effort
In return for my sharing, I would ask that they share with me readable digital copies of whatever materials they collect during the course of their own research. For this there are some very obvious places to start looking. Dr Volker Koos clearly found reliable statistics for the numbers of He 177s delivered by Arado. No-one else ever seems to have used this source. (See the section on this type in his Arado Flugzeugwerke: 1925-1945, published 2007, now due to be printed in English in March this year.) In addition, there is some invaluable material on the He 177 posted and freely available for download from:
http://www.deutscheluftwaffe.com/archiv/Dokumente/web/new%20site/frames2/Dokumente.htm
(See especially the He 177 Technische Anweisungen des Generalluftzeugmeister, 72 Seiten.) It would be worth following up with the site owner on where he found this material, and whether there might just be other stuff of less obvious interest that was also turned up. There will also be a mass of material on the 177 in the Heinkel Werke Firmenarchiv held by the Deutsches Museum in Munich. This occupies 42 meters (Laufmeter) of shelf space, but that includes a lot of post-1945 stuff. See:
https://www.deutsches-museum.de/archiv/bestaende/firmenarchive/verzeichnis/heinkel/

I would undertake to use these ‘infoshares’ entirely for my own private study until expiry of the shorter of one year after the date of publication of their own their title, or five years after our initial contact. [Family circumstances have permanently postponed any ambitions I had as an author, besides my German in nothing like good enough for this task.]”

Sent with title ‘For the attention of the Managing Director of Osprey Publishing’ to each of:
info@ospreypublishing.com
editorial@ospreypublishing.com
Attached Files
File Type: zip He 177 Revamp review v10-8 + Subsequent 27-Mar-2019.zip (192.6 KB, 52 views)
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  #2  
Old 9th April 2019, 19:38
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Re: Book Review: Robert Forsyth: Heinkel Units of World War 2 (published Osprey, July 2018)

Quote:
Maybe also, one day someone with the interest and relevant skills will actually choose the development and production of the He 177 as the subject for their PhD thesis, and perhaps even take me up on the arrangement that I offered in the initial instance to Osprey.
I say this to everyone … have you ever considered writing your own book? If you see problems in doing that, it is quite possible that others have the same reasons, but sometimes the only way to make progress is to jump in despite your reservations.

Then there was what you said about a PhD thesis. Coincidentally, I have just read a book based on such a thesis and was not impressed. The way in which a thesis must be presented needs (in my opinion) major adaptation to make a readable book. Also, the work in question was full of factual errors that would have been obvious to anyone with much of an interest in air warfare. I inferred that the author is a historian who had to find a thesis topic but lacked background knowledge of his chosen subject. He had the thesis format (acres of explanation about what he was about to tell you, multiple sources for every last statement) and no doubt he satisfied his supervisors whose specialist knowledge was apparently no greater than his own (did no one know the Me 410 was not jet-propelled?). Also the published sources he cited were almost exclusively academic works, with hardly any of the books that members of this forum are familiar with and which would have spared him a great many problems and errors. Involving someone with the slightest knowledge of German would have helped too.
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Old 10th April 2019, 11:10
Stig Jarlevik Stig Jarlevik is offline
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Re: Book Review: Robert Forsyth: Heinkel Units of World War 2 (published Osprey, July 2018)

For what it is worth, I stopped buying books written by Robert Forsyth after reading his introduction to his He 111 book for Classic.

Also writing a book in 2014 without consulting one of the leading experts on Heinkel in Germany, Dr Volker Koos, is terrible and not even reading through his published works is even worse.

So thank you for the effort INM@RLM but the He 177 unit book is not something I will waste money at. From your review I can only conclude he has still never heard of Dr Koos.

Cheers
Stig
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Old 10th April 2019, 11:32
INM@RLM INM@RLM is offline
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Re: Book Review: Robert Forsyth: Heinkel Units of World War 2 (published Osprey, July 2018)

Richtig, Stig.

Robert has still apparently not heard of Dr Koos. Perhaps the publication of 'Arado Flugzeugwerke: Aircraft and Development History' in English will help.

Last edited by INM@RLM; 10th April 2019 at 11:33. Reason: typo
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Old 10th April 2019, 11:36
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Re: Book Review: Robert Forsyth: Heinkel Units of World War 2 (published Osprey, July 2018)

What about the Classic on the He 177 by Smith & Creek?

I've paid 93€ for a copy so you have worried me .
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Old 10th April 2019, 11:58
INM@RLM INM@RLM is offline
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Re: Book Review: Robert Forsyth: Heinkel Units of World War 2 (published Osprey, July 2018)

Alfred, if you read the review you will see that many of the corrections also apply to the He 177 title by Smith and Creek.

The Smith and Creek title also contains many other - for me - fundamental errors. Take the Werk-Nummer block reconstruction as an example area.

But this is the reality of history. Historians have to grade conflicting sources, select the best data and reject some of what they find as either unreliable or downright wrong. They also need to start by going and looking in all the obvious places first to put together some sort of outline as a foundation. Giving detailed sources is also an essential feature.

The basis of the historical method is to allow others to check the published conclusions by going to review the same sources that the historian has used. It's the same principle of repeatability as scientists use to document their experiments in detail so others can either reproduce the same results from scratch - or disprove what has been published.

Here we have lots that has been published that can be disproved by looking at good quality sources.

The reality is that the He 177 title by Smith and Creek is still an ESSENTIAL book for study of the He 177, and it did help move us forward, but it also contains its own copious share of errors and it is NOT a biblical authority.

Having to start from where you are, rather than where you'd like to be, is all just part of life. Welcome to the adventure!

Last edited by INM@RLM; 10th April 2019 at 11:59. Reason: grammar
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Old 10th April 2019, 12:31
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Re: Book Review: Robert Forsyth: Heinkel Units of World War 2 (published Osprey, July 2018)

Quote:
It's the same principle of repeatability as scientists use to document their experiments in detail so others can either reproduce the same results from scratch - or disprove what has been published.
Well said. The other side of that is that a book is only as good as the next piece of information that emerges. Something may appear tomorrow that totally changes the picture.
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Old 10th April 2019, 13:09
INM@RLM INM@RLM is offline
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Re: Book Review: Robert Forsyth: Heinkel Units of World War 2 (published Osprey, July 2018)

Yes, that is all part of the satisfaction and fun, Nick. (See the first chapter case of Stresemann in Carr's 'What is History?' What if Stresemann's papers had never seen the light of day?) It just so happens that in the case of the 177 some major changes to the picture are overdue. But my own experience is that radical changes to a story are usually fairly infrequent phenomena.
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Old 14th April 2019, 10:34
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Re: Book Review: Robert Forsyth: Heinkel Units of World War 2 (published Osprey, July 2018)

Quote:
Originally Posted by INM@RLM View Post

But this is the reality of history. Historians have to grade conflicting sources, select the best data and reject some of what they find as either unreliable or downright wrong. They also need to start by going and looking in all the obvious places first to put together some sort of outline as a foundation. Giving detailed sources is also an essential feature.
Ivon, very interesting critique as usual with your reviews - but I have to say that an 'Osprey' is hardly the forum that a 'historian' would use for a 'reappraisal' of accumulated knowledge. The time constraints alone make that proposition simply impractical - the author writing for Osprey has just a few months to come up with four or five 6,000 word chapters. The best to hope for is a decent synthesis of what has gone before. Telling us you can't find the time to write your own book is a bit of a smokescreen -getting it all into under 30,000 words in just a couple of months would be quite simply beyond most people.
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Old 14th April 2019, 22:28
Dan O'Connell Dan O'Connell is offline
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Re: Book Review: Robert Forsyth: Heinkel Units of World War 2 (published Osprey, July 2018)

I'll stick to Me262's.
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