Osprey | Aces of Jagdstaffel 17
Reviewed by Kevin Williams
Publisher: Osprey Publishing
Author: Greg VanWyngarden
Publishing date: 2013
ISBN: 978-1-4728-78096-720-2 (PDF)
Volume 118 in the "Aircraft of the Aces" series
This German World War I fighter squadron led by a Blue Max recipient didn't include Manfred Von Richtofen (the Red Baron), but it's range of colorful characters was nonetheless impressive.
Initially formed to assist in the defence of the city of Metz against French bombing raids, Royal Prussian Jagdstaffel 17 would go on to become one of the most distinguished German fighter units of World War 1. Its first victory was scored by the pilot whose story is inextricably interwoven with that of his unit - the 'Blue Max' recipient Julius Buckler. Buckler would rise from a humble NCO to commander of the Staffel, and overcome numerous wounds to score 35 of the squadron's total of 101 confirmed victories. He was largely responsible for inspiring the unit's unique Esprit de Corps, expressed in its famous and unique 'battle-cry' of 'Malaula!' Indeed, in its final days the unit gained the nickname Zirkus Buckler, or the 'Buckler Circus'. Besides Buckler, Jasta 17 boasted such aces as Karl Strasser, Alfred Fleischer and Christian Donhauser. In addition, the roster included colourful characters like the successful Jewish airman Jakob Wolff, who at over 48 years of age was the oldest German fighter pilot of the war. The story of this illustrious unit is told with many first-hand accounts by Buckler, Fleischer and others, as well as dozens of rare archival photos of the unit's beautifully decorated fighter aircraft.
The Book Itself
This is the 118th volume in the "Aircraft of the Aces" series from Osprey Publishing, the first volume, Mustang Aces of the Eighth Air Force, being originally published in 1994. This is but one of several books in this series dedicated to the WWI time frame. As is probably familiar to most by now, the titles are self descriptive, taking one particular aircraft (or in this case, group of aircraft), and exploring some of the Aces that flew them, ranging from WWI to the present, and as such, offers up a great reference kick off point for collecting markings and painting schemes for particular pilots, with corresponding historical and anecdotal data on same.
Note: At some point (I'm not really sure when), Osprey began offering the majority of their newer volumes as e-books, in this particular case, a PDF. I have no idea what the reasoning was behind this decision, but it's certainly a less expensive option for the consumer (almost always a good thing), and does offer some possibilities not found with an actual paper book.
Any book is welcome in my library, as long as it lives up to a certain minimum standard, and this series certainly does that, covering (for a modest price), marking and painting options that are very useful in my own modeling pursuits, specifically my long term goal of having the ceiling covered with 1:48 fighters, usually in the markings of aces, where doable. Once again, covered here is the iconic Fokker E.III, Albatros D.II/D.V/D.Va, Pfalz D.XII and gorgeous Fokker D.VII, the D.VII being considered (by myself) to be one of the most beautiful and graceful fighter aircraft from the WWI time frame.
Typical Photo Quality/Presentation to be Found Throughout
As can be seen above, there are an interesting selection of photos included in this volume, though the book is not heavily laced with photos, but then this is to be expected from a slim volume such as this (96 pages, total). Many of the photos that are present, have been seen before in other publications, but are most all of a very nice quality, the same not being able to be stated about certain other publications.
All in all, there are 28 color profiles, spread out over 7 sheets (not including plan views of several), ranging from the Fokker E.III, Albatros D.II/D.III/D.V/D.Va and Pfalz D.XII to the splendid Fokker D.VII. The highlight of this particular group of WWI fighters, to me, is the extraordinarily colorful and aesthetically attractive schemes worn by many of the aircraft of this particular unit; quite spectacular really (though for me personally, the D.VII schemes are a bit of a snooze).
To me, the high point of these volumes, in general, are the excellent color profiles (I won't delve into "accuracy" issues here, as that's not really within the scope nor intent of this overview).
For me to loudly proclaim that these books are a desirable addition to the aviation library, is nothing more than an honest appraisal of what I feel is the good value these books bring to the table, and make for an interesting overview of the types of schemes found on these machines.
Even if you have just a passing interest in WWI aviation in general, you can’t go wrong with the purchase of this book. You may even just become a fan.
On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d rate this book as a 10, no question about it. At roughly 96 pages, a fair amount of data is packed into this somewhat diminutive book.
The entire range of the series can be found directly from the Osprey site (here), arranged in chronological order, working backwards.
Review copy compliments of my ever shrinking budget.
Other References of Possible Interest
© Kevin Williams 2016
This review was published on Thursday, July 21 2016; Last modified on Friday, August 12 2016