Prien, Jochen.


Three Volumes : Schiffer, Atglen, 1st eds., 1997 (Vol. I) & 1998 (Vols 2 & 3). Vol. I : 400 pp. Vol. II : pp., 401-752. Vol. III : pp., 753 – 1216. All Vols. : Numerous photo-ills., including some cold., in Vols., I & II, + some ills., maps & plans. D.j., marbled e.p.’s ; 31 x 23cm. FINE. Jagdgeschwader 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 the year 1937. This first volume, of a three-volume set, covers the early years of the Geschwader from its founding in the spring of 1937 up to May of 1942. JG 53 had a considerable share in the successes achieved by the Luftwaffe in the early stages of the war in the West, and at the outset of the war in the East until mid-1942, and through the tough battles fought over the Mediterranean fronts and suffering bitter losses in the vain attempt to stop the Allied bomber-offensive against the Reich. Equipped exclusively with the legendary Messerschmitt Bf 109, JG 53 Pik-As became the Luftwaffe's most successful unit during the so-called "Phoney War." When on May 10, 1940, the Wehrmacht invaded France, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, the Pik-As Geschwader was in the centre of the action and it ranked highly amongst the top scoring Luftwaffe units. JG 53 later took part in the Luftwaffe’s strategic aerial campaign over Britain in 1940 then subsequently in the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, in the Mediterranean theatre of operations, North Africa, Sicily and Malta. Volume II covers from May 1942 to January 1944 and includes service at Stalingrad and the Caucasus, in North Africa where, attached to JG 27, the Gruppe took part in every major battle which eventually brought the German Afrikakorps to the El Alamein line, over Malta and the central Mediterranean. The subsequent fight over Tunisia saw JG 53 once more at the peak of its abilities although losses were severe and included two of the Geschwader’s leading "Experten" – Hptm. Tonne and Lt. Crinius. Immediate operations over Sicily followed where the Luftwaffe were driven from their bases only days after the Allied invasion, Operation "Husky", in 1943. During the second half of 1943 JG 53 saw continuous action over southern Italy with losses mounting to an unprecedented level. Volume III covers from January 1944 to May 1945 and opens by continuing with the bitter fighting over Italy at Cassino and Anzio/Nettuno bridgehead, and over northern Italy. Between them, I. II. III. and later IV./JG 53 saw action over Romania, protecting the oilfields and refineries around Ploesti, in Hungary, on the south-eastern part of the Russian Front in the autumn of 1944 and early 1945, Czechoslovakia and Austria, on home defence, in many of the major air battles over the Reich in the first half of 1944, in Operation Overlord where II./JG 53 was decimated, over the Dutch battlefields in Operation Market Garden, the Battle of the Bulge, Operation Bodenplatte and Remagen bridge before the majority of the Gruppen and Staffeln were finally disbanded a few days before VE-Day. Thus JG 53 had taken part in World War II from the very beginning to the very end, claiming a total of nearly 4,100 aerial victories, but losing at least 600 pilots killed or missing – as well as 241 ground staff – which meant the unit had lost a total of almost six times its original complement. The service record of JG 53 can undoubtedly be regarded as uniquely representative for the rise and fall of the Luftwaffe, with the unit seeing action on every major war front. This final volume of the epic saga of JG 53 concludes with : a list of the officers in command of the Geschwader, its Gruppen and Staffeln ; a listing of all known victories claimed by JG 53 ; strength returns ; and other appendices. A complete name index for the three-volume set is also provided. All three volumes appear here for the first time in English, and contain, in total, over

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