[dropcap]W[/dropcap]ell-known World War I historian Greg VanWyngarden leads us through the history of one of famous German fighting units, JagdStaffel 18, using nice narrative, sometimes more of novel-like tone, but at the same time filling it up with impressing number of facts and figures.
Really, some half hour into the reading I was overwhelmed with event dates and locations, JaSta numbers, pilot names, biographies and interesting notes…
Jasta 18 was formed as Royal Prussian Jagdstaffel on 30.10.1916. and sent to Halluin in Flanders under the command of Oberleutnant Karl Heino Grieffenhagen. Having from the start few good men in the roster, to name Paul Strähle and Walter von Bülow-Bothkamp, it fought bravely against British RFC and RNAS and obtained its first victories already in January 1917, boosting the number in the months to come.
Next turn of events for Jasta 18 came in August 1917, just when their Albatros D.III began lagging behind new British scouts Sopwith Camel and S.E.5. A new leader took over the comand – well known and admired Rudolf Berthold. He trained his new cammerades into a tough and united fighting unit. He also introduced known colours of this Staffel – bright red nose and dark blue fuselage and tail.
Combat reports of people involved especially increase its value, as well as VanWyngardens cross-checks with other data available. One of those is description of a combat on 26th of October 1917, against also famous 28th Sqn RFC.
Berthold returned, after healing the wounds, in the eve of the greatest German offensive on the Western Front. Since JG II lost its leader von Tutchek only 3 days before the offensive began, Berthold was offered his place. He took over the command but, not wanting to separate from his old comrades, he took with him also complete belongings of Jasta 18, people, aircraft, fighting colours and all, exchanging it for Jasta 15’s. This was more a paperwork, since Jastas effectivelly exchanged only names and war diaries, but from that moment on all changes, also in this book…
New commander of Jasta 18 was August Raben, and he and his men fought further, from Keiserschlacht until the end of the war… New colours of the Staffel were again vermilion red noses and white fuselages and tails, and all the aircraft were also marked with new staffel emblem – raven stenciled on the aft fuselage.
Raben was as good a commander as Berthold was, so his men fought as valiantly as previous members of Jasta 18, making most of their mediocre Albatros D.V and Pfalz D.III fighters, as well as of new Fokker D.VII planes they started receiving at the end of May.
Summarising all, at the end of the war Jasta 18 was credited with 126 victories, losing total 21 men being killed, wounded or taken prisoners.
Title: Jasta 18 – The Red Noses
Author: Greg VanWyngarden Illustrator: Harry Dempsey
Format : A5 softcover
Spreading onto 128 pages, supported by 132 high-quality photographs of men, machines and everydays’ life events, containing 28 profiles and additional plan-views, the book is really a treasure of data and a pleasure to read. Instead of reading it in the breaks of everyday’s work, sometimes I’d hardly took a break of book to do some work. Therefore I find it highly recommended to read and have! Direct buy from the publisher here!
Sample book provided by Joseph McCullough, Marketing Coordinator Osprey Publishing