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  #1  
Old 22nd January 2005, 18:36
Dick Powers Dick Powers is offline
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Reviewof Willi Reschke's "JG 301/302"

Jagdgeschwader 301/301 “Wilde Sau” In Defense of the Reich with the Bf 109, FW 190 and Ta 152By Willi Reschke
Translation: David Johnston
Schiffer, 2004
Originally published in German, 1999
284 pages, approximately 200 photos
Contents:
Forward
Introduction
Creation of the Single-Engined Night-Fighter Force
Formation of Jagdgeschwader 301 and 302 “Wilde Sau”
Jagdgeschwader 301 and 302 in Action
A Change of Command in Both Jagdgeschwader
The Formation of IV./JG 301
Changes in Both Jagdgeschwader
Final Thoughts on JG 302
Self-Sacrifice – the Demise of JG 301
Into Action with the Ta 152H-1
JG 301’s Last Transfer
Final Thoughts on JG 301
Appendices
Victories by JG 301 and JG 302
JG 301 Losses
JG 302 Losses
For those familiar with Don Caldwell’s JG 26 War Diaries, this book is similar in size and layout. After two introductory chapters, book uses a diary approach to describe the history of JG 301 and 302. A narrative of each day’s action is followed by a listing of claims and losses.
The appendices include a combined list of victories, arranged alphabetically by pilot (Rank, Name, Unit, Date, Time, Type, Area, Victory # and Night/Day) and a loss list arranged by unit and chronologically (Date, Unit, Aircraft Type, Werk Nr/Code, Cause, Location, Rank Name, Fate)

The author, of course, was a pilot with JG 301, later JG 301, a Ritterkreuztraeger and, a talented historian. He joined the Luftwaffe in February 1940, received his wings in June 1943 and was posted to I./JG 302 in June 1944.

The diary begins with Hajo Hermann’s initial Wilde Sau tests on July 24-25. The initial parts of the book are well written, but seem to be detached and dry Reschke, however does make interesting observations:
For a while, JG 301 and 302 were flying both night and day missions.
Before switching from night fighters to purely day interceptors, losses exceeded claims. N Most losses, however were not from combat, but were weather-related.
With pilots from diverse backgrounds, there were some who preferred to engage escort fighters, and others who preferred to attack the bombers.

The narrative after June 1944, when the author was flying with the units is quite different. The story here seems to come alive. Reschke’s experiences and memories bring a believable level of detail that isn’t fond in a typical unit history.

He discusses tactics, discusses how the units were guided into position by ground control (or in a couple on instances guided out of harm’s way when the situation was hopeless). Among his observations are that once he was within range of bomber’s defensive fire he didn’t have to worry about escorts because they stayed clear. He describes his tactics, how he used machine guns to aim, observing strikes making their way to the aiming point and then switching to cannon for the kill. His second victory was by deliberately ramming a B-24 after his guns jammed. He bailed out and decided then “realized the risk I had tank up there”. A photo showing him on foot with parachute canopy tucked under his arm is included.

Most readers will be interested in the chapters on the Ta 152 which include flight test reports and descriptions of combat. Reshke’s final 5 or so victories on were while flying the Ta 152, including his 27th and last on April 24, 1945 over Berlin. He was awarded the Ritterkreuz on April 20, 1945. His victory list shows 19 four-engine bombers in his total of 27.

David Johnstone’s usual fine translation avoids the sometimes awkward (at least to English-speaking ears) too literal translation while appropriately incorporating military and airplane terminology.

Apparently using original war diaries, log books and other primary source data, this book effectively combines the diary historical approach with the believability that only a participant can incorporate.

If it Jagdgeschwader were only a diary of JG 301 and 302 it would be valuable. With Reschke’s first person experiences and bits of critical observations, is almost becomes a classic, to be read again and again.

Very, very good.
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  #2  
Old 22nd January 2005, 21:31
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FalkeEins FalkeEins is offline
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Reschke

Thanks Dick...I agree the book works best when Reschke recounts those episodes he was directly involved in... he does however go seriously awry on certain dates & events in which he wasn't directly implicated - formation of wilde Sau, early summer of 44 etc - most of the book was, I believe, researched and written in East Germany before the wall came down. The photo content is disappointing too..
Recommended nonetheless.
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Old 22nd January 2005, 22:23
Dick Powers Dick Powers is offline
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Photos

The photos weren't disappointing to me. Yes, there are only a few photos of aircraft, but the aircrew phots are also an important pert of the history.
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Old 3rd February 2005, 10:52
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Peter Kassak Peter Kassak is offline
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crews vs planes

HI,

I have to agree with Dick. War was led, fought, lost by people...not planes or machines...Those were just the tools to kill each other.
I also prefer to see pictures of men, instead of discussing on plane marking. Plane photos could be reached via archives, but peoples accounts and photos disappear with them....
just my opinion..

Peter
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also: Zerstorer Research Work Group,
"Geschichte des Zerstörergeschwader 76 (Zweite Aufstellung 1943-45)"
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