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Aces of the Legion Condor - Robert Forsyth, Jim Laurier

Here is a concise, comprehensive, well-told story of the establishment and combat history of Germany's Legion Condor's fighter squadron component (Jagdgruppe 88) during the Spanish Civil War. Jagdgruppe 88 was the fighter element within the Legion (4 squadrons), which along with its bomber, anti-aircraft, and reconnaissance/transport units, had been sent to Spain in 1936 by Hitler to assist the rebel forces (i.e. Nationalists) fighting against the leftist Republican government in Madrid. Indeed, the war itself was to be a proving ground for Jagdgruppe 88, which had entered combat flying what was at the time Germany's standard fighter plane, the Heinkel 51, a biplane not far removed from its First World War antecedents. 

Within a few months, the Heinkel 51 was found to be inferior to the Republican fighters (i.e., the I-15 'Chato' biplane fighter and the I-16 'Rata' monoplane fighter - both of which were supplied by the Soviet Union to the Republican forces) it encountered in combat. Consequently, the decision was made to send the new Messerschmitt 109 monoplane fighter (which represented in 1936 a revolutionary leap in aircraft design) to Spain for wartime evaluation and testing. This would be done in stages over the length of the conflict. (The numbers of Heinkel 51 fighters in the Legion would be reduced, til by war's end in 1939, only one squadron would be flying it as a ground attack fighter.) Indeed, as was pointed out in the book: "The Legion Condor had played a significant role in winning Spain for Franco, and the importance of the Civil War had demonstrated the importance of air power to battlefield victory. The success of every major Nationalist offensive and defensive operation was dependent upon clear air superiority." 

Like similar books in the Osprey Aircraft Series, "ACES OF THE LEGION CONDOR" is chockful of photos and richly rendered illustrations. It will make a welcome addition to any aviation enthusiast's library.