Reviews and comments on
Black Cross/Red Star, vol 1, First Edition


* Review by James A. Corum, Aerospace Journal, Summer 2001:

Black Cross/Red Star: The Air War over the Eastern Front. - Review - book review

Black Cross/Red Star: The Air War over the Eastern Front, vol. 1, Operation Barbarossa by Christer Bergstrom and Andrey Mikhailov. Pacifica Military History (, 1149 Grand Teton Drive, Pacifica, California 94044, 2000, 336 pages, $39.95 (hardcover).

Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, was not only one of the greatest land operations in history, but also one of the largest air operations. Over 3,000 Luftwaffe aircraft and aircraft of nations allied with Germany faced over 10,000 Soviet aircraft across an enormous front. While there have been numerous books about the ground operations in the Soviet Union in 1941, relatively little attention has been devoted to the air operations. Black Cross/Red Star is a useful addition to the literature of airpower history on what was arguably the most decisive front of World War II.

The history of the air war over the Soviet Union from June 1941 can be summed up as an initial German victory with the Luftwaffe gaining air superiority over the obsolete and poorly trained Red Air Force, the battle for survival by the Red Air Force, the exhaustion of the Luftwaffe by late full, and the resurgence of Soviet airpower in support of the Soviet counterattack in December 1941. The authors provide a good general history of the air action on the Eastern Front for this period of the war.

The book emphasizes the unit actions on the Eastern Front and is written to give the reader a "feel" for typical operations of 1941. It is heavy on wing and group operations and contains plenty of pilot anecdotes. One strength of the book is the inclusion of Soviet accounts of the air operations and plenty of Red Air Force photographs. Indeed, the book is well balanced in this regard, quickly moving from German operations to Red Air Force operations over the same sectors. This book is one of the benefits of the opening of the Soviet archives to historians in the last decade.

By including brief accounts of air forces allied with Germany, such as those of the Slovaks and Romanians, Black Cross/Red Star makes an important contribution to understanding the air war over the Eastern Front. It is often forgotten that Germany's allies, usually operating under German direction, made a major contribution to the Luftwaffe's campaign in the east. The 500 Romanian air force aircraft played an important role in defending the vital Ploesti oil fields and in supporting the German/Romanian advance in the south. Surprisingly, the book barely mentions the very important role played by the 500-plus aircraft of the Finnish air force on the northern part of the front.

The book is a good start as a general history of the air war in the east, but there are several drawbacks. It focuses almost exclusively on the operational and tactical side of the air war, failing to tie air operations into the context of the ground operations. The strategic issues of the air war get pretty short shrift. There is little mention of the planning of the campaign or of logistical operations of opposing air forces. The maps included in the book are pretty basic and the tables of organization and equipment of the opposing air fleets could have been given in better detail. On the tactical side, when the authors write about the Luftwaffe, they tend to concentrate on the fighter units rather than the bombers. Yet, for the Luftwaffe in 1941, the bombers and the interdiction campaign were the focus of the air effort, with the fighters as a supporting force.

I recommend this book as a useful general history of the 1941 air campaign. There is some solid research behind the book. It is readable and has some excellent photographs, many from Soviet archives that have not been published before. Previously, there has been far too little available on the subject of the air war over the Eastern Front. However, I hope this book is not the last word on the subject. The 255 pages of Black Cross/Red Star are really not enough to cover the subject adequately. The 1941 air campaign deserves a detailed, scholarly treatment similar to the one that Joel Hayward gave to the 1942 air campaign in his outstanding work Stopped at Stalingrad: The Luftwaffe and Hitler's Defrat in the East, 1942-1943 (University Press of Kansas, 1998). In that book, Hayward was able to put the air campaign in the context of the grand strategy and the ground operations, in addition to detailing the operations at the tactical level. The air war in the east in World War II remains largely uncharted territor y for the airpower historian.

* Canadian Military History Book Review Supplement, May 2001:

"In spite of the scale of the campaign, the air war in the east is imperfectly understood. The historical record on both sides has been dramatically distorted, so that, as the authors note, 'when comparing Soviet/Russian literature with corresponding Western accounts, one wonders if they at all describe the same war.' It is to correct these misconceptions that the authors have written the first in a four-volume history of the air war in the east. They have returned to the archival sources in Germany and Russia to produce what is arguably the best, most comprehensive account of the aerial campaign. Lavishly illustrated with many rare photographs from Russian and German sources, Black Cross/Red Star belongs on the bookshelf of any serious student of aerial combat."

* Jon Guttman in Military Heritage, May 2001:

"With its clarity in showing the reader both the forest and the trees, Black Cross/Red Star us a commendable achievement. If the other three volumes in this series prove to be as well done as the first, they will provide scholars of aerial warfare with a long-overdue study of what, in terms of numbers of aircraft and land area involved, constitute the largest aerial campaign of World War II"

* FlyPast, May 2001:

"With increasing changes in the former Soviet Union, access to archive material is at last producing a balanced account of the Eastern Front and the incredible battles staged there. This is Volume 1 of what looks set to be an impressive series covering the air war element of what Stalin termed the Great Patriotic War. Stacked with appendices, references, and illustrations, this tome tells the tale of Operation Barbarossa, when Germany moved east against its former ally."


* M. Morozov, Senior Research Officer of the Military History Institute of MO RF (Russian Federation's Ministry of Defence):

"In the mass of literature dealing with the Great Patriotic War there are only few books that attempt to describe the air battle 1941 - 1945 from the viewpoints of both sides. Bergström's and Mikhailov's work has every right to claim that it is the most successful work that has ever been made in this direction."


* J.J. Fedorowicz Publishing, Inc. and Tiger Hobbies:

"Black Cross, Red Star ... an indispensable reference – highly recommended."

Read the complete review at:


* Review by Richard Goldblatt at SimHqCom, March 2001:

"Black Cross/Red Star doesn’t make for light, casual reading, but it is without a doubt one of the finest aviation history books I’ve ever read."

Read the complete review at:


* Hans-Ekkehard Bob, Major a.D. and former Staffelkapitän 9./JG 54 Grünherz. Ritterkreuzträger:
"Black Cross-Red Star is a lovely book. I wish you all the best luck, since this is an objective account."

* Hansgeorg Bätcher, Major a.D. and former bomber pilot with KG 27, KGr 100/KG 100, KG 4, and finally Kommodore KG(J) 54. Träger des Eichenlaubs zum Ritterkreuz:
"I salute the work by Mr Christer Bergström and Mr Andrey Mikhailov, which gives an objective description of the air war over Russia. . . I hope that this book will find a broad audience, and I find that it will contribute to dismantle the hostilities between our peoples."

* Aleksandr Pavlichenko, Guards Polkovnik, former pilot in 210 BBAP and 108 GShAP:
"I believe that this is the first work that tells the true story about us."


Aleksandr Pavlichenko, March 2001.

Photo: Vlad Antipov.


* Arkadiy F. Kovachevich, General-Leytenant, former fighter pilot in 27 IAP and 9 GIAP, Hero of the Soviet Union:
"I am very glad that this book has been issued. It is magnificent. I am sure that due to this book, the Russian pilots and their persistent fight against fascism will not be forgotten. For this I am grateful toward the authors of this work."

* Viktor A. Grubich, Kapitan, former bomber pilot in 615 NBAP:
"It simply is a superb work."

*Review at 12 February 2002:

Exzellente Darstellung des Luftkrieges im Osten!, 12. Februar 2002
Rezensentin/Rezensent: Rezensentin/Rezensent
Black Cross/Red Star ist die bislang ausführlichste und genaueste Darstellung des Luftkriges im Osten, die ich kenne. Neben der umfangreichen Beschreibung der eingesetzten Flugzeugtypen wird die Entwicklung dieses Konfliktes in der Luft erläutert und beschrieben. Ergänzt und veranschaulicht wird das Ganze durch viele, auch bislang unveröffentlichte, Fotos und persönlichen Erzählungen von Zeitzeugen. Das Buch ist eine faire und unvoreingenommene Auseinandersetzung mit einem bislang wenig beachteten Kapitel in der Geschichte des Luftkrieges. Absolut empfehlenswert für alle, die an Details und Hintergründen interessiert sind. Als Einstieg in die Thematik weniger gut geeignet. Leicht verständlich geschrieben und gut lesbar.


*Review by Peter Gries at 22 January 2002:

Interessiert ist diese Reihe fast ein Pflichtkauf, zumal sie einen Teil des Luftkrieges beleuchtet, der bisher eher zu wenig Beachtung gefunden hat.
Die Autoren entwerfen ein packendes und, wie ich meine, von ideologischen Verbrähmungen freies Bild diese Kriegsschauplatzes, immer neutral und sachlich; sie zeigen Hintergründe auf, die mir bis dahin unbekannt waren; sie zeigen auch den"Vorspann" des Krieges und
geben eine schlüssige Erklärung für die Anfangs katastrophalen Niederlagen der sowjet. Luftwaffe/Armee.
Der einzige Minuspunkt den ich geben muß ist allerdings die in meinen Augen miserable Papierqualität, leider alles andere als Hochglanz, was die Brillianz der Bilder doch sehr beeinträchtigt.
Allerdings wohl kein Einzelfall, bei der überwiegenden Anzahl der US-Bücher, die ich bis jetzt gekauft habe liegt die Druck/Papierqualität weit unter dem hier gewohnten Standart-schade..

Ansonsten ist das Buch für jeden Interressierten rückhaltlos zu empfehlen.


Review by R. A. Forczyk at, 17 September 2001:

(Five Stars out of Five Stars): Sheds Much New Light on the War in the East!

Although there are many books that cover the German invasion of Russia in 1941, few deal with the massive air operations in any detail. This book provides an excellent campaign narrative of the six-month struggle for air supremacy in Russia during June-December 1941. The authors are to be applauded for their attention to detail and their scrupulous objectivity.

The book is organized in 31 short chapters, which generally cover a specific area and period in the campaign, like air operations over the Baltic States in July-August 1941. There are three introductory chapters that cover the doctrine, training, tactics and equipment of both the German Luftwaffe and the Soviet VVS. Numerous relevant photographs, many of which have not been published before, enrich each chapter. Additionally, there are six maps and six excellent appendices (Luftwaffe and VVS organization, orders of battle, rank structure and awards). Chapters usually begin with an operational overview of ground operations and objectives in a given area, followed by accounts of air actions in that area on a virtual day-by-day basis. First hand accounts are used to describe fighter engagements and bomber attacks.

The first day of Operation Barbarossa is covered in great detail, much more than I have seen anywhere else. Although there are digressions on minor theaters of action, such as the Siege of Odessa and the Arctic Front, most of the focus is on the three main theaters of action, in north, central and south Russia. The authors skillfully weave together German and Soviet records to produce as objective an account of the air battles as possible. Some striking aspects of the book include the shockingly deficient level of Soviet pre-war flight training; many Soviet pilots went to front-line squadrons with only 10 flight hours accrued, versus an average of 250 hours for new Luftwaffe pilots. Soviet pilots were further disadvantaged by obsolete aircraft, faulty doctrine and lack of combat experience, whereas the German pilots had plenty of experience and flew excellent aircraft like the Me-109E. Anyone who wonders how the Luftwaffe could have so many pilots with 50 or more "kills" should read this books account of the slaughter of hundreds of Soviet bombers during the first weeks of war. The VVS seemed to have an endless supply of SB and DB-3 light bombers that it continued to send in broad daylight and without escort to attack German ground units. The Luftwaffe experten shot them down by the bushel. The VVS was also slow to disperse its aircraft and develop low-level defenses and consequently, Luftwaffe bombers continued to catch large numbers of Soviet aircraft on the ground even three weeks into the campaign. Other interesting aspects include details on the Soviet strategic raids on Berlin, the German strategic raids on Moscow and some industrial targets, and the Soviet predilection for "taran" (air-to-air ramming tactics). Soviet propaganda tended to exaggeration "taran" tactics, but the fact is that it was not unusual; on the first day of Barbarossa alone the Luftwaffe lost 14 aircraft to ramming.

Between June and December 1941, the Luftwaffe destroyed about 17,000 Soviet aircraft at a cost to themselves of 2,000 aircraft, but the Soviets were able to rebuild their air power in a short period despite these horrendous losses. The authors conclude, "the predominant tactical doctrine of the Luftwaffe and the lack of equipment to undertake a strategic bomber offensive proved to be the fatal flaws of Operation Barbarossa." Additionally, the authors cite the role of airpower as particularly decisive in the Moscow campaign, where the declining strength of the Luftwaffe and its ability to contribute effective air cover or ground support contributed to the German ground offensive running out of steam. Massive Soviet air reinforcements to the Moscow sector then tipped the balance and allowed the Soviet army to roll up the over-extended Germans. Finally, the Luftwaffe shifted air reinforcements to this sector from other areas and helped to prevent the collapse of ArmeeGruppe Center.

Black Cross/Red Star is an invaluable book for military historians and future volumes should add to its value. However this book is ill-suited for general readers who lack knowledge of the Eastern Front, since the book is loaded with German and Russian military jargon, and there is little discussion of wider aspects of the campaign (the participation of German allies such as Romania, Finland and Italy is mentioned only in cursory fashion). Readers familiar with the Eastern Front will find this book a feast of information which offers new perspectives on the Russo-German War.

Review by "Uzzasn" at, 5 September 2001:

(Five Stars out of Five Stars): A very good book!

I strongly recommend this book for anyone interested in aerial warfare and history in general. It deals with one of the less known aerial theatres of WWII: the Eastern Front.
The book has his strong point in the fact that the narrative shifts from the German to the Soviet points of view in a subject where the former approach are almost the unic source for the ocidental reader.

Review by Steve Barrett at, 26 September 2001:

(Five Stars out of Five Stars): A very good book!

I acquired volumes one and two in order to learn something of the aerial conflict on the eastern front in WWII, particularly from the Soviet point of view, and was not disappointed. The only other book I have studied on this subject was the 'official' Soviet history of the Red Air Force during the Great Patriotic War which had it's uses as a general reference. These books gave me a much more operational view of the conflict.

As an amateur wargame designer, these books provided me with insight as to how I might model the air portion of this vast conflict and were, therefore, of significant value to me. As has been stated elsewhere, there isn't much else out there on this subject, at least showing the Russian side, which may indicate why so many of us gave these books 5 stars.

I certainly take exception to the one person who tried to make a case against these books by citing the large numbers of vehicles and craft in the Soviet tank and air parks. They obviously have no clue as to the difference between effective machines vs total machines. I would recommend David Glanz's books to anyone who would like to get a better handle on this dynamic, particularly Stumbling Colossus; The Red Army on the eve of World War.

For my purposes, these were great books and I am looking forward to the remaining volumes.


Review by "Toly" at, 17 March 2005:

(Three Stars out of Five Stars): Could have been a great book

At first I thought this book is great... It's filled with exciting material, stories and photos. The authors tried to shed the objective light on the events and give a balanced perspective from the both sides. Vivid first-hand accounts and great photos make this especially interesting reading.

But the more I read the more disappointed I became... There is, of course, a story behind all of this... what happened, where, when, and why... and here's where the book falls so short of logical explanation, it becomes terrible... The more I read the book the more it reminded of the old Communist propaganda saying that Stalin decapitated the Red Army, did not believe in progress, and did everything possible to make USSR weak and defenseless in the face of oncoming agression... The Russians were not prepared, not prepared, not prepared... All of this we had heard and read before, but it is not the real reason the WWII happened the way it did...

If Russians were not prepared for the war, how come Germans found over 20,000 airplanes opposing them? Why there were millions of Soviet troops so close to the border? Why there were tens of thousands of Red Army's tanks, exceeding Vermacht's panzer forces by 7 times? Why were there so many small, nimble planes in the Red Army, and why was the Russian airmen's training so short and inferior to Luftwaffe's? The authors give one answer... Stalin... the dictator-idiot who believed in poorly trained air force and obsolete hardware... for any questions of "why" go ask him...

The German side of the story is narrated in the book clearly and logically, but the USSR looks like a bunch of lunatics obeying the madman on top... and if he has been such an imbecile, what should we imply about everyone else in the country who obeyed such a dictator?... this is sickening, not because it touches anyone's pride, but simply because it does not make any sense!!!

There is an outstanding book about the beginning of WWII... it is Victor Suvorov's "Icebreaker" and it explains very clearly and very logically the real story behind the Russia's "gross unpreparedness" for the war. I have not read a better book on WWII. Every fact supports his theory, including all the facts found in this book.

But here, in this book, all we find is a lot of interesting facts, with descriptions of what happened, when and how, but you won't find a logical explanation of the root of it all. If you're willing to swallow the "lunatic asylim" explanation of Russia's stance, this book is palatable...

If not, instead of getting the answer to the most basic question of why, you'll find a bunch of facts shoehorned to fit an old wives' tale. This is the major disappointment of this book.


Review by Joseph Rogasch at, 4 August 2002:

(Four Stars out of Five Stars): Very Good...But Needs to Examine Larger Scale

First of all, this is probably the best book on a greatly neglected topic. The air battles along the eastern front were every bit as critical to the war as those in the west. As this book demonstrates, Luftwaffe losses during the summer/autumn of 1941 were as great as the much publicized Battle of Britain. Soviet losses in men and machines were astronomical, another factor ignored by most western historians who emphasize mainly U.S. and British contributions. This book discusses these issues in great detail.

One aspect of the book which is both a plus and minus is the authors emphasize the microscale aspects of the Eastern Front air war. They provide great detail about the air operations of small scale units or individual pilots and what life was like to be a German of Russian flyer over Russia. But the effects of these operations on the larger scale are somewhat neglected. One wishes more discussions were directed as to how large scale bomber operations affected the ground battles. More could have been written concerning the German attempt to develop a strategic bombing campaign, especially against Moscow. In fact, I would have liked to see more discussions concerning the effects of German bomber and dive bomber operations in general since this is what proves most decisive in any offensive. The authors definitely have a pro-fighter bias, which is the main reason I did not give it 5 stars.


Review by Joseph L. Brennan at, 18 April 2002:

(Three Stars out of Five Stars): A Semi-contrarian View

Black Cross Red Star Vol. 1 seems to have become a relatively expensive out-of-print. I only recently finished my new-bought copy after it sat on the to-read list for a long time. If one is considering pursuing it in the second hand market:

The material and perspective are unique. It is a serious attempt at a two sided account of the Soviet-German air war on the Eastern front in WWII, in contrast to previous detailed and even scholarly but still mainly one sided acccounts from the Axis perspective and excepting Soviet propaganda, a few post-Soviet Russian oral histories (eg. Loza's "Attack of the Airacobras"). The Soviet photo's, poor reproductions though they are, could alone make this an important book.

But I was somewhat disappointed given all the 5-stars. This book isn't comparable to the best air combat histories I've read, John Lundstrom's books on US-Japan carrier fighter combat in 1942, and falls short of other excellent WWII air combat accounts as well (Ford's "Flying Tigers", Bartsch's "Doomed at the Start", or the many works of Cull, Shores and Franks).

Even though the authors promise, I believe, 6 volumes to tell the story of the Eastern Front air war, even June-Dec '41 is too much to cover in detail in the relatively short length.
The other authors I mentioned didn't have to deal with the massive scale of the Russo-German air war, and perhaps a 1000 page Volume 1 was not realistic, but still I could at least imagine a better way to address the large scope of the subject.

Perhaps only some detailed accounts would be given for flavor (and perhaps this is the intention) but if so this would better have been done in the framework of more complete consistent and clearly presented aggregate statistics (changing orders of battle, strengths, claims and losses). Complete omission of the Finnish effort is another casualty of too much ground to cover.

The narrative seems to have a split personality sometimes, perhaps between the authors? Certain passages and accounts have a decidedly pro-Soviet tone somewhat at odds with expectation in a neutral account. It often seems important to establish at length that there were many brave and some highly skilled Soviet fighter pilots though that might be assumed, and the limited statistics given don't really challenge the conventional negative characterization of 1941 Russian fighter effectiveness. Where detailed accounts are given, it's not always clear that the claims especially of decorated Soviet pilots and elite Russian units are scrutinized as much as possible compared with available German loss records.

The footnoting and source listing is limited if one would consider further independent research.

One can better understand the book with previous knowledge or an accompanying source on the ground campaign.

This is probably the best book to have appeared on its particular subject, I just hope it's not the last word. Based on V.1 I'll probably buy V.2, but not an immediate must-buy.


Review by Robert G. Coach at, 11 August 2001:

(Four Stars out of Five Stars): Excellent read!

Interesting, balanced story of Barbarossa. Having read extensively about the WWII Airwar, found this book an excellent overview that put a lot of the pieces together for me. Would have enjoyed more detail. I found it interesting that many relatively obscure pilots were mentioned - some multiple times - and in considerable detail while H. Rudel was barely mentioned. I sensed a bias on the part of the authors. Made me want to do more reading in order to validate or disprove this feeling. Excellent read. Good reference book.

Review by Ed Dixon at, 23 June 2001:

(One Star out of Five Stars): Contrarian View

The dust cover states "for the first time, a true balance between the German and Soviet accounts"

Balanced? Not in my humble opinion. I find this book to be written from the Soviet point of view. The Russian pilots are all heros and the Germans are either deluded or barely mentioned. Most of the narration is also done from the Soviet point of view. I'd split the narrative point of view to be about 80% Soviet, 20% German

I find the number of footnotes and source citing in general to be miserly and not up to the standard of a major break through work of history. Assertions are many, such as stating the Romanian claims over Odessa were inflated...maybe so, but there isn't a footnote there...

On the positive side, there is new data and photographs, if you can read past the cheerleading.

Modelers: Pass this one color plates, no 3D views

The lack of neutrality turned me off in the first chapters of this book. I won't be buying the next three, based on my experience with volume one.

Review by a Reader at, 12 May 2001:

(Five Stars out of Five Stars): A very good study of a little known part of WW2!

I am a fanatic on World War 2 and have read heaps on the subject. I also am quite a critic. When most people give a WW2 book 5 stars I give 4 or sometimes less. But this book is excellent and definitely deserves 5 five stars.

One of the main problems with history books of this period is that there is so much written its hard to read something new. This book does. It throws light on a little known subject the air war on the Eastern Front. Although I have read much on this front, I never realised how important the Russian airforce was.

It has great photographs. I like how they are spread out though the book allowing a user to see the photographs while reading the book. Using them to jump back and forwards across the lines and displaying brilliant biograph of pilots on both sides we can appreciate what they are going though.

Much of the critics of this book I have read it is not correct. The writer are certainly not saying that the Russian airforce was as good as the Germans man for man. They blame that largely and quite correctly on Stalin. Its interesting that the German aces are clearly displayed with there 200 + kills whereas the Russian aces have 13 +. What they are saying is that it was very important in the war.

The main mission of the Russian air force in this period was to stop the German armies advance and I would have liked is more study on the effect on the German army. Not that this is not covered I just would have preferred more.

I would also have preferred more technical information on the planes and in particular in production.

Another point mentioned that I will dispute was the bombing of city of Kosice. Its still disputed today, who did this particular bombing. The writer claim it was the Germans but offer no proof. Its still one of the mysteries of the war. I find it strange that no-one has come forward after the war to claim credit for this operation.

Much of the discussion on the Soviet bombing on Berlin was very interesting. As was the fanaticism of the Russian pilots. I don't know any other airforce that used ramming as standard tactics.

I am looking forward to the next volumes.


Review by Jerry Boucher at, 5 March 2001:

(Five Stars out of Five Stars): Indispensible!

The opening paragraph of this book's conclusion states: 'The war on the Eastern Front in 1941, in the air as well as on the ground, has few rivals in terms of it's bitterness.' The first volume BC/RS illustrates this point very well. It can be difficult to comprehend the massive forces, and the subsequent massive losses, that were involved. However, the authors have a rare skill - they effectively put across to the reader the grand scale of the battles which made up the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, but also include snapshots from the conflict with stories of the pilots and the individual battles that they fought. In this way, the reader is given both a macro and a microscopic view of 'Barbarossa'. This style works well, as does the way in which the chapters of the book are arranged. The flow of the book is reminiscent of different scenes from a film, in which the reader is shown the various factors which made up the bigger picture. The book also has a certain pace to it which is rare in works of non-fiction, let alone those that deal with historical events. All in all, this first volume is a significant step in the evaluation of the air war that developed between the Luftwaffe and the Soviet airforce. Having had access to a great deal of documentation from boths sides, the authors compare and contrast the tactics, successes and failures of both sides involved. This helps to put to rest several myths that have haunted the history of this epic battle since the war's end, and sheds new light on the subject as a whole. Such things should be welcomed. The only weaknesses of the book are minor, and are not the fault of the authors themselves - the maps and photos which illustrate the book can sometimes be indistinct, but this is not a serous bone of contention for me. With just this first installment, it's easy to see that 'BC/RS' will develop into an indispensible account of a sorely negelected but extremely significant series of events in world history. It is both accessible, encompassing and engrossing, and I for one recommend it.

Review by Pineridge at, 11 December 2000:

(Five Stars out of Five Stars): An excellent book!

This is an excellent book. Well written, great photographs. It gives equal coverage to both the Luftwaffe and the Russian Air Force. The book covers the first six or seven months of Operation Barbarossa and shows enough of the ground war to show the importance of the air forces of each side to the movement of the ground forces, and how important the air forces were to the movements of the ground forces. Both Mr. Bergstrom and Mr. Mikhailov deserve accolades for the writing of this book. I am looking forward to Volume 2.


Review by Günther Rosipal at, 8 September 2000:

(Five Stars out of Five Stars): Next volume? Aber bitte jetzt gleich!

First I have to concede, that I am one of the local and personal supporters of Christer Bergströms and Andrey Michailovs work. So I am really partial on their first volume of their tremendous ongoing work.

In the past, there were written lots of books about the war on the eastern front. Meanwhile we know (as special historical educated people) a lot about the main facts, which troups under which command of which Marshall or General fought against the other side.

But we also have the expierience, that the former western enemies came together and are today good friends. Today the former opponents of the "Battle over Britain" meet since decades as friends, talking about the old tough times...

The authors support with their work that kind the peaceful communication of the russian and german generations, because they explain, that one of the best skills of human beings, the possibility to fly, unifies the people all over the world.

The work that the authors did today, was impossible to do until the early ninties, when the history of the lost and won WWII was occupied by the political systems. With the fall of the german border and later with the end of the USSR, there was a new chance to take a new look on that what happened 45-50 years before.

The authors show, (by looking on the eastern theatre) that there was at least no really difference between german and russian pilots during the second worldwar: They all loved flying, they loved their native country. At least they did the same: They fought against each other, they killed each other under the same conditions.

Bergström and Michailov acting in the a kind of the new "avantgarde" with their bookproject. Nearly no historian (Working on that "eastern-front-theme") did it in that way before: To take a look on personal or individual destinies of both sides during the SAME time.

In that way, the eastern theatre (especially the airwar) is not longer an uppersurface-story with Hitler and Stalin, or Manstein and Shukov, who lost there 10.700 soldiers and at another place 5.800 soldiers. A small number of those soldiers (or especially pilots) now get names, even also not just the topscoring fighterpilots of both sides. To check the "eye to eye-enemies" is the most honourable intention of Bergström an Michailov , to bring light into that what happened. They do not just stop at the point of those 10.700 or 5.800 soldiers - they talk about the single human beings of both sides, who not really differed.

So buy that book, because it is a really extented look on our common history.

I am urging for the next volume.

Günther Rosipal, Hannover, Germany


Review by Robert E. Wartburg at, 25 August 2000:

(Five Stars out of Five Stars): Air war over the Russian steppes

The beginning chapter states: "Although the largest airwar in history was fought on the Eastern Front during World War II, this is one of the least known chapters of aviation history."

An opening sentence never rang so true.

Millions of pages have been written about the aerial conflict over Western Europe over the decades since the war. Given the number of units and aircraft involved over the Eastern Front, this part of aviation lore has been sadly neglected. Part of the reason has to due with the availability of the records. Only with the recent fall of the Iron Curtain have researchers been allowed more than limited access to Soviet records. Christer Bergstrom and Andrey Mikhailov are two such men who spent years interviewing the pilots who fought and suffered in the skies of Eastern Europe.

The book begins with a comparison of the two air forces involved which includes their relative experience prior to June 22, 1941, training standards, tactical doctrine and aircraft. The effect of Stalin's purges on leading airmen and aircraft engineers and its effect on the Russian Air Force is also detailed. Of interest is the German fighter pilot's 'hunting' philosophy that stressed individual achievement through aerial victories.

The beginning of the book takes the reader from the early morning dawn of June 22, 1941 to the first intense struggles for air supremacy during those first, fateful weeks. Testimonials and first-hand accounts from participants, on both sides, give humanity to the plentiful and detailed facts and figures. Many future and high scoring aces of the Luftwaffe and VVS describe their first missions during the opening battles.

One of the overall strengths of this work is that information from the antagonists is presented. Most of what we now of the air war on the Eastern Front are from the Luftwaffe point of view. Rarely did a reader know what was happening on the "Other Side of the Hill". Bergstrom and Mikhailov have made it a point to give a balanced account and include as much detail about the VVS and its pilots, as with the Luftwaffe.

After the initial stages of the air war, the authors walk the reader through the intense battles in the Ukraine, Kiev, and the desperate defense of Moscow and Leningrad. Interestingly, the VVS air raids against Berlin are documented. This is just another example of the obscure events of the war above the Eastern Front chronicled in this book.

A weakness of the book is the quality of the maps. Most of the geographical place names are blurred, making them difficult if not impossible to read. Several of the photographs have the same problem with blurring. Overall, the quality of the maps and photos do not detract significantly from the work.

I would recommend this book to anyone with even the slightest interest in the battles between the Luftwaffe and VVS. The book closes a large gap between the air war on the Eastern Front and the other theaters of war that have been heavily documented.

* Richard Powers, review on Luftwaffe Discussion Board:

"BC/RS is a large sized book with 307 pages. Main text is 257 pages the rest being appendices, notes, sources and index. 'Asources' is interesting, being the first I've seen that includes Internet sources, including this forum.
The text is well-written and very balanced for Luftwaffe and VVS coverage. And although fighters seem to get the lion's share of text, bombers, dive-bombers and ground-attack activity is well covered. Losses and claims are compared to actual loss reports for both sides where possible.
The book is arranged in chapters covering a particular area for a specific frame. This works well to keep the reader focused on what could be a confusding narrative if each chapter covered a time over the whole eastern front. I must admit that although I have read a lot of LW histories, I haven't read much about the eastern front. This book fills a void. It is wonderfully readable and full of interesting tidbits and facts.
For instance:
VVS bombing raids against Berlin in August 1941.
Werner Mölders flying 'unofficial' combat missions while visiting the eastern front as Inspector of Fighters.
'Zveno' concept of two I-16 fighters equipped with bombs under the wings of a TB-3. These were carried near the target and air launched to complete the bombing mission and then fly home.
VVS use of RS-82 rockets against ground targets, even at this early stage of the war.
Photographs are well selected, relevant to the text and have informative captions. Most of them are new. My only complaint is that the photo reproduction is not up to the quality in other recent books. Even photos that are included in Osprey publications (and there are two) seem to suffer in quality.
Altogether, I recommend this book. I know I will buy the next volume and the one after that, and the one after that . . . will it REALLY be a year?"

Review on Black Cross/Red Star by Bill Stone on Stone & Stone's reference Web site

* Robert Forsyth, Chief Editor, Classic Publications:
"It's a damned good book, and the authors should be proud of it. Congratulations. One hell of a daunting subject to tackle and I am really looking forward to reading it and ALL the other volumes - I'll just keep buying them until I either run out of money or you stop writing!"

* George Mellinger, Soviet aviation historian and author:
"This is the sort of work which needs to be done, and the direction in which aviation history should go. If you finish all five volumes,I believe it will become a true classic."

* Vlad Antipov, Russian aviation historian:
"Black Cross-Red Star is magnificent. Both I and several veterans from the war agree that this is a deep and well-researched study of a forgotten part of the war."

* A reader, on Luftwaffe Discussion Board, August 16, 2000:
"I have the book now, it's amazing, can't wait for the next volume to go online."

* Edward C. Eisler, a reader:
"I enjoyed this book very much. I can't wait to read the other volumes. It really is a great work."

* Tony Belobrajdic, Australian aviation artist:
"A very good book-excellent!"

* James Quinn, on Russian Military Forum, August 21, 2000:
"Congratulations! A very handsome job by the publisher. Nice artwork, high quality throughout."

* Andrey Dikov, Russian aviation historian:
"This book is just fantastic! Very impressive and an extensive work! I'm sure that no one has done anything similar before. I find it a balanced and neutral account on the Russo-German war-which is what all previously published works have lacked."

* Bob Rinder, a reader:
"I am so pleased that this series was launched. I have spent a lifetime wondering what really happened on the 'eastern front' and whether we, in the west, would ever gain any insight into the Soviet point of view on this enormous historical event. Now, I think Black Cross-Red Star will solve that problem for me.

* Jim Haycraft, aviation history researcher:
"I'm very much impressed with this new work and I'm sure many others will be also."

* Sharon Pappas, Paul Gaudette Books:
"Congratulations! I have the book in stock and am very impressed. It is the kind of book that I can sell sight unseen over the phone."

* Review by Dave Williams, WW II Aviation Booklist:
"Black Cross Red Star: The Air War Over the Eastern Front; Vol. 1, 1941 Christer Bergstrom & Andrey Mikhailov, Pacifica CA: Pacifica Military History, 2000, 307 pp (hb)
ISBN: 0 935553 48 7
Authors, Bergstrom and Mikhailov make their North American debut with an exhaustive (and what promises to be a definitive) treatment of the airwar on the Russian front. The sheer breadth of the subject matter is staggering; yet Bergstrom and Mikhailov carry the reader along on a fast paced journey into the very center of the conflict. The text is exceptionally well researched and features invaluable passages translated from unpublished works such as Hannes Trautloft's diary and flight book entries of both Russian and German airmen. The detail provided is impressive and the book presents a carefully scrutinized look at the full scope of the conflict courtesy of balanced reporting from both the Soviet and German perspectives. From close-up in-cockpit tactical accounts to the broader strategic picture including orders of battle, Black Cross Red Star is an absolute must buy for anyone wanting to know more about the air war on the Eastern front. Even better, this book represents only the first entry of what will be a 4 volume set! I was particularly struck by the absolute scale of events in this theatre of war and the unfathomable levels of destruction unleashed by both sides. Of note...the book dispels the veil of propaganda that has tainted most of the West's understanding of the Eastern front and successfully humanizes its combatants. Indispensible contribution to our understanding of the air war on the Eastern front...An absolute must have!"

Bestselling rating on, September 3, 2000:
"Books Search Results: 376 total matches for 'Aerial operations, German'. The most popular are (Results sorted by: Bestselling):

  1. Black Cross/Red Star : Vol. 1, Operation Barbarossa 1941
  2. I Flew for the Fuhrer by Heinz Knoke

"Books Search Results: 71 total matches for 'Aerial operations, Soviet' The most popular are (Results sorted by: Bestselling):

  1. Black Cross/Red Star : Vol. 1, Operation Barbarossa 1941
  2. The History of Soviet Airborne Forces by David M. Glantz.

"Books Search Results: 1156 total matches for 'Military - Aviation' Results sorted by: Bestselling

10. Black Cross/Red Star : Vol. 1, Operation Barbarossa 1941


Bestselling rating on, April 9, 2001:
"Books Search Results: 370 total matches for 'Aerial operations, German'. The most popular are (Results sorted by: Bestselling):

  1. Black Cross/Red Star : Vol. 1, Operation Barbarossa 1941
  2. Messerschmitt Bf 109 : Luftwaffe Fighter (Living History , Vol 5) by Dan Patterson (Photographer),

. . .

Still rated as #1 bestselling in cathegory "Aerial operations German"at on August 10, 2001, though the book at position #2 has shifted.

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