[dropcap]J[/dropcap]agdgeschwader 53 – or as it was better known, the “Pik As” (Ace of Spades) Geschwader – was one of the oldest German fighter units of World War II with its origins going back to 1937. Pik-As unit participated in almost every battlefield German Luftwaffe was engaged in combat.

Osprey publishing has released their publication Jagdgescchwader 53 as the book number 25 of their very interesting Aviation Elite Units serie. Book is printed on 128 pages with paperback covers, and the thing that catches an eye at the first glance is outstanding color art on front cover. Inside the book you will find great number of archive photos and very nice and interesting color profiles of the machines served in JG 53

Jagdgeschwader 53 Pik-As

Jagdgeschwader 53 Pik-As

Book content is as follows:

  • Early days
  • Sitzkrieg and blitzkrieg
  • The Battle of Britain and beyond
  • Barbarosssa and beyond
  • The Mediterranean act I
  • The Parting of thee ways
  • The Mediterranean act II
  • End in the East and West
  • Appendices
  • Index

John Weal in the first chapter of the book describes the forming of this successful unit prior to the World War 2 in 1937. At that time unit was equipped with biplanes and it was not until the winter 1938/39 the unit started to receive Bf-109 fighters and at that time it was merged with another unit to receive the name Jagdgesschwader 53

Second chapter contains information about first aerial victories of the unit as well as early stage order of battle and unit organization. There is an interesting story about Molders first victory. Clashes with French fighters during the French campaign are also described in this chapter. Third chapter is describes unit’s participation in the Battle of Britain. First assignment of JG 53 was to guard occupied northwestern French territory from possible RAF attack over the channel. It was not until the second week of August that JG 53 officially entered the Battle of Britain. Unit first encounter with RAF Hurricanes and Spitfires during the Battle of Britain was on August 8th when during one of the raid on British convoys JG-53 encountered British fighters and claimed its first victories. Unit’s engagement in Battle of Britain is fully described in this chapter of the book, and some nice photos are supplied to illustrate this campaign. Russian campaign is a topic in chapter four, and at the very beginning  you will find very interesting photos, that can be of special interest to scale modelers, pilots at rest, catching the Sun to improve tan. During their time on Eastern front, three groups of the JG 53 were independent of each other. Participation of each group in Barbarossa is well described, stories about members and aces and ofcourse nice archive photos to follow the main story. Chapter five concentrates on the clash over Malta during the five month in the summer of 1942 when almost 200 kills are recorded by JG53 and most of those kills were over Hurricanes and Spitfires.

In May 1942 after the termination of the German air offensive against the British island fortress of Malta the “Pik As” Geschwader was split up, with its three Gruppen scattered over three theatres of operation. I./JG 53 was moved to the Eastern front, where it was to take part in the German summer offensive in the southern sector aimed at Stalingrad and the Caucasus. III./JG 53 again saw service in North Africa supporting Rommel’s planned advance on Cairo. Stab and II./JG 53 which were left behind on Sicily after the end of the “Malta Blitz” in May for service over the central Mediterranean and that is covered in chapter six. Chapter seven covers a reunite of the unit and the Tunisia campaign which was actually a turning point of the JG53’s War. After fights in Tunisia, unit was retreating through Italy engaging allied fighters and bombers along the way.

The final chapter of the book is dedicated to the Defense of the Reich, a final task in war for this unit.

Author has supplied in the appendices a list of the commanding officers of the unit as well as the list of aces with their decorations. Book contains numerous photographs and 35 interesting color profiles with captions. I enjoyed this book and I can warmly recommend it to all interested in a subject. Book can be purchased here

Darko Mladenovic

Sample book provided by Joseph McCullough, Marketing Coordinator Osprey Publishing