Reviews and comments on
Black Cross/Red Star, vol 2

 

* Review by Alejandro G.S. "Alejandro" at Amazon.co.uk on January 31, 2007:

Excellent work!

This is one of the best books I have read on air warfare in the eastern force. The author uses both german and russian data, illustrations are great and the detail is very good. The book is +300 pages long and contains plentiful information.

 

* Australian Army Newspaper, edition 1076 on June 19, 2003:


EPIC AIR WAR IN EAST

Black Cross, Red Star: The Air War Over the Eastern Front, Volume 2
By C. Bergstrom and A. Mikhailov
Pacifica Military History (distributed by Crusader Books). 212pp. [Australian] $90
Reviewer: Air-Cdr Mark Lax


This book is the second in a series that will cover the entire air war in the east - the largest and longest air campaign in history (yes, bigger than the strategic bombing of Germany and Japan). Volume One concentrated on Operation Barbarossa, the German attack from June to December 1941. This volume covers the Russian fightback to mid- 1942 during their vast and costly winter offensive.

Black Cross, Red Star will eventually be six volumes and a complete and reasonably balanced account of this epic struggle for control of the air.

The authors have made every effort to include data from both German and Soviet records, plus interviews with survivors and eyewitnesses.

At the end of this volume are detailed descriptions of the dramatic large-scale air battles during the German offensives at Kharkov and against Sevastopol in May and June 1942, where the scope of losses for both sides is mind-boggling. In this period, the Soviet Military Air Force, or VVS, lost 6976 aircraft and the Germans 1170, resulting in the astonishingly high claims recorded by Germany's many aces by war's end. Eric Hartmann's 352 claims for example, should not be scoffed at when you read this account. Subtitled Resurgence January-June, 1942, this hardback book is beautifully illustrated. It contains more than 150 select black-and-white photographs from both sides, and 30 magnificently produced, accurate full-colour aircraft profiles. Also included are appendices, chapter notes and index.
At [Australian] $90 it is expensive but such high-quality books are worth it when you consider they become collectors items and add a new dimension to your aviation library.
The book will be especially interesting for fans of WW2 computer simulations (such as IL-2 Sturmovik and the various modules that can be added to MS Flight Sim H and III), those who want to know more about the vicious air war fought over the Russian Front, and serious aero-modellers looking for information on aircraft colour schemes and aces.

 

On January 1, 2002, Black Cross/Red Star, Vol. 2 received the 2001 Top Ten Award from Stone & Stone's Second World War Books website, which wrote:

"In this sixth year of the Top Ten awards, visitors to Stone & Stone's Second World War Books website have over the last two months nominated and voted for almost two hundred of the best nonfiction WWII-related titles published in 2001, and in so doing set a new record for the greatest number of votes cast during our Top Ten voting. (. . .)

"More specifically, it's interesting to note that volume two of Black Cross, Red Star finished in the top ten this year after volume one did the same last year."

See:

http://www.sonic.net/~bstone/archives/020101.shtml

 

* Bill Stone on Stone & Stone's reference Web site, October 28, 2001:

"Black Cross, Red Star: The Air War over the Eastern Front, volume one was a strong winner in our Top Ten awards for the best new WWII books of 2000. The second volume in the series by Christer Bergstrom and Andrey Mikhailov gives every indication of making another run for Top Ten honors this year.

"The first volume offered an unprecedented amount of carefully documented detail about both the Luftwaffe and the VVS during the first six months of the war on the Russian Front, ending at the turn of the year. The second volume picks up where the first left off, both chronologically and in terms of the detailed information provided about both air forces. (. . .)

Like the first volume, there is a great deal here which will be of extreme interest to every student of air warfare and the Russian Front."

Read the complete review at:

http://www.sonic.net/~bstone/archives/011028.shtml

* Review at Amazon.de:

Besser als der 1. Teil der Serie "Black Cross/Red Star"!, 12. Mai 2003
Rezensentin/Rezensent: Rezensentin/Rezensent
Noch besser als der 1. Teil der Serie "Black Cross/Red Stars"! Auch in diesem 2. Teil des auf mehrere Bände angelegten Werkes über den Luftkrieg im Osten, stellen die beiden Autoren nicht nur sehr detailliert und umfassend die einzelnen Erfolge der verschiedenen Operationen auf beiden Seiten da, sondern beeindrucken immer wieder durch Erzählungen einzelner Pilotenschicksale und der Kämpfe, die sie erlebt haben. Im Unterschied zum 1. Teil der Serie hat sich jedoch die Darstellungsqualität der Bilder und die gesamte Aufmachung des Bandes wesentlich verbessert! Neben den bereits bekannten Auftellungen über die verschiedenen beteiligten Geschwader und Piloten finden sich nun u.a. auch Farbprofile einzelner Flugzeuge, über die im begleitenden Text referiert wird. So entsteht ein sehr eindrückliches und anschauliches Bild der Luftkämpfe auf diesem Kriegsschauplatz. Dieses Buch ist empfehlenswert für alle, die genaue, detaillierte Hintergrundinformationen über den Luftkrieg im Osten erwarten. Als Einstiegsbuch in diese Materie würde ich es weniger empfehlen. Obwohl in Englisch geschrieben, ist die Sprache einfach und gut verständlich.

 

* Richard "Swoose" Goldblatt at the IL-2 Sturmovik Section of the SimHQ.com Reference Library:

"Just as the IL-2M Sturmovik's rear gunner position improved on the sound design of the single seat IL-2, Black Cross/Red Star Volume 2 builds on the solid foundation of Volume 1. Swedish author and Luftwaffe scholar Christer Bergstrom teams again with Andrey Mikhailov, historian of the Soviet Air Force (VVS). These knowledgeable writers continue to set the standard for contemporary works dealing with the air war on the Eastern Front. The authors follow the same format used in Volume 1. They begin with comprehensive introductory chapters detailing the overall strategic situation, followed by similar analyses of the opposing air forces' equipment, personnel, organization and tactics. Afterwards, they proceed with a detailed description of the Eastern Front air war in critical locales such as Moscow, Leningrad, Murmansk, Kharkov, and the Crimean Peninsula. The book concludes with a summary of each air force's strengths and weaknesses and sets the stage for German 1942 Summer Offensive. ()

"The World War Two aviation buff will find many peripheral interests in Black Cross/Red Star Volume 2. For example, the book extensively covers the VVS' combat record using the American built Curtis P-40, supplied by Lend-Lease. ()

"Players of UbiSoft/Maddox Games IL-2 Sturmovik combat flight simulator will gain valuable historical insights and background on the Eastern Front air war from the Black Cross/Red Star volumes. ()

"When considering purchasing background books for IL-2 Sturmovik, the Black Cross/Red Star volumes should be at the top of the list. Both succeed at interweaving the "Big Picture" view from High Commands with a large number of gripping first person interviews that detail dogfights and bombing raids. Volume 2's use of enhanced graphics makes it stand apart. The publishers used a higher quality paper with an easier to read typeface. The 150 black and white photographs are much less grainy than those in Volume 1. Buffs will find that the 5 color maps, 30 stunning full color detailed aircraft profiles, and the historically precise narratives combine to score yet another hit for the authors and their readers."

Read the complete review at:

http://www.simhq.com/simhq3/sims/features/library/il-2/bcrsvol2/

 

* Richard R. Muller, Maxwell AFB, Alabama, in Aerospace Power Journal- Summer 2002:

"Black Cross, Red Star: The Air War over the Eastern Front, vol. 2, Resurgence by Christer Bergström and Andrey Mikhalov. Pacifica Military History (http://www.pacificamilitary.com), 1149 Grand Teton Drive, Pacifica, California 94044, 2001, 232 pages, $39.95.

The eastern front consumed over half of the German Luftwaffe’s frontline strength from June 1941. It also was the scene of some of the most significant air action of World War II. The Red Air Force (VVS) recovered from its near-total annihilation in the summer of 1941 to become a vital part of a powerful combined-arms team that defeated the German military. Yet, among the vast outpouring of World War II histories is but a tiny handful of works focusing on the eastern front in the "third dimension." We are fortunate, therefore, to welcome the second installment of a multivolume series examining, in great detail, the air war on the eastern front, 1941–45. It is a story that needs telling and retelling.

In many ways, this volume tells it well and has much that is new to offer. It covers the critical battles before Moscow in December 1941–January 1942 through the ambitious Soviet counteroffensive and the subsequent German stabilization of the front line, culminating in the German victories on the Kerch peninsula and at Kharkov. The narrative concludes with the conquest of the Crimea, which clears the way for Operation Blue, the major German drive during the summer of 1942, to be covered in a future volume. Throughout, the courageous efforts of the VVS to close the training, technical, and tactical gap with the Luftwaffe are well covered. The book also contains excellent accounts of the "secondary" fronts since air action around Leningrad or opposite Army Group Center hardly slackened during this period. The chapter devoted to the Demjansk and Kholm airlifts, in which the Luftwaffe kept a cutoff German force of over 100,000 men resupplied for months, is one of the highlights of the volume.

The work masterfully combines the combat experiences of both Soviet and German airmen into a coherent narrative. For years, historians and general readers were aware of the exploits of a number of the German ace fighter pilots, such as Hannes Trautloft, Hermann Graf, and Anton Hackl, fighting in the Soviet Union. This work certainly gives them their due, providing much new and enlightening information in the process. Perhaps the book’s most significant contribution lies in finally recognizing the achievements and sacrifices of the airmen (and airwomen) of the VVS. In some cases, the authors have been able to fully reconstruct both sides of an air battle, nearly 60 years after the event- certainly a remarkable example of historical detective work. Indeed, one wishes that the footnotes and bibliography had been a bit more detailed. Simply listing a citation as "VVS-Karelian Front documents" or "Luftwaffe Loss Reports" is not adequate if future scholars wish to follow in the footsteps of such excellent research.

One might criticize this volume for its overwhelming focus on the sharp end of individual ae-rial combats and its near-total neglect of many other facets of the air war on the eastern front. Examinations of intelligence and logistics are almost entirely absent from the narrative. Discussion of the airpower theory and doctrine of both air forces, as in volume one, is cursory and oversimplified. The strategic and operational direction of the air war is scarcely discussed. For example, Luftwaffe chief of staff Hans Jeschonnek, who exerted enormous influence on the Luftwaffe’s force structure and operational employment, is never mentioned. The achievements of Gen A. A. Novikov, whose innovative command arrangements on the Volkhov front in early 1942 set the pattern for the recovery of the VVS, are given a few scant paragraphs. Field Marshal Walther von Brauchitsch is misidentified as the chief of the Army High Command (OKH), and Adolf Hitler’s role is reduced to providing "daily outbursts of fury" (p. 44). The book is very effective at communicating the details of air engagements and the exploits of the individual aviators. It is less successful at placing these operations into some kind of larger strategic and operational context.

In terms of its production values, this volume is an enormous improvement over its predecessor. Photographic reproduction and paper quality are much improved, and the book contains a number of color side-view paintings of Soviet and German aircraft that are nothing short of spectacular. This is a most worthwhile study- narrowly focused, attractively presented, and filled with much new information on an aspect of World War II that is still poorly understood in the West."

http://www.airpower.maxwell.af.mil/airchronicles/bookrev/mikhalov.html

 

* Mark L. Tucker at HyperScale Kit Reviews:

"This is not your typical review as it has been some time, August 2000, since the release of the first volume in the Black Cross/Red Star series.

I had actually purchased Volume 2, Resurgence, January - June 1942, before obtaining Volume 1, Operation Barbarossa 1941. I was tempted to buy Volume 1 some time ago but was put off by the omission of color artwork and the lack of modeler references. I seem to purchase books from a purely modeling point of view i.e. is it a subject that I am interested in and does it have references that I can use in construction of my models. Color, profiles and drawings are a big draw card to me.

It was only after starting to read Volume 2 that I gained somewhat of an insight into how great this series was going to be that I decided to go out and buy Volume 1.

Whilst Volume 1 has great detail and a narrative feel about it, a style of writing which I enjoy, I thought the book suffered from some problems with blurry and dark photos and maps. I also found some of the text hard to read because the matte paper seemed to allow the text of the reverse side of the page to show through. These shortcomings have been overcome in Volume 2. This has been printed on glossy paper, similar to that seen in the Classic Publications Me 262 series.

Volume 2, to me as a modeler has a much more appeal. There are 31 color aircraft profiles by Claes Sundin, Tom Tullis and Jim Laurier. Most of you would be familiar with Claes and Tom's work from books such as Schiffer's Luftwaffe Fighter Aircraft In Profile, Eagle Editions EagleFiles series and Classic Publications Luftwaffe Classics series. I haven't seen any of Jim Laurier's work before but I must say that I do like the profiles he has done in this book.

Here is a small profile of one of the aircraft featured in Black Cross Red Star, Volume 2, Resurgence January-June 1942

By Claes Sundin

Polikarpov I-153, Starshiy Leytenant Alexsandr Baturin, Deputy commander of

1 Eskadrilya/71 IAP/61 AB/VVS-KBF, Bychye Pole, Soviet Union, Summer 1942

"Whilst these books are not written purely for the modeler they will form a valuable part in anyone's library of references. The information and some of the more interesting facts such as the parasite fighter I-16 fighters loaded with bombs and carried underneath the wings of TB-3 bombers as well as the Soviet tactics of ramming not only air targets but ground targets are fascinating.

On a side note. It would be great to see a set of decals released for some of the aircraft depicted in the profiles contained within. I know most of the aircraft may have decals available by other manufactures and that some of the aircraft depicted may not be available in kit form but it would be nice to have.

Maybe something for Christer and Andrey to include in the next installments in the series? Who knows, its just a thought.

Finally, a great series so far, can't wait for the next book. Go out and buy Volumes 1 & 2 if you haven't already done so.

Highly Recommended.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Black Cross Red Star is available from http://www.pacificamilitary.com overseas or aeroworks@iprimus.com.au in Australia"

 

 

* Three reviews from HallMemoirs.com:

"An excellent book!
The second part in the Black Cross/Red Star series focus on the air war between january - june 1942, perhaps the least know phase of the entire air war on the eastern front.
Knowledge of the air war on the eastern front has always been scarce in the west, and has mostly been influenced by the german point of view. This is a unfortunate result of the cold war, when access to soviet sources was almost nonexistant. But the cold war is over, and the soviet archives are slowly being opened for western scholars.

This book is full of interesting information about the equipment, aircraft, tactics and pilot training of the Luftwaffe and the V-VS (Voyenno-Vozdushnye Sily, Soviet Military Airforce. The included glossary is excellent!), not to mention the excellent photos and aircraft profiles.

Among the interesting information in this book are accounts of the V-VS and Luftwaffe activity during the soviet winter offensive, the airlifts at Kholm and Demyansk (with some very interesting observations the german leadership ought to have studied closer), the soviet attempt to resupply the trapped Second Assault Army at Lyuban and the air campain against Sevastopol.

The authors tries to give an impartial account on the events from the views of both sides, and I think they accomplish this task well. Few books on the war on the eastern front are so unbiased, and I have read many.

For the student of the air war in the east this book is necessary, as air, as bread."

"Couldn't be better
Looking at BC/RS as a series, the overwhelming weight of reviewers rate it 5-stars. I heartily agree. The authors are gifted, analyzing the multiple factors relevant to combat and battle outcomes, then expressing their findings in an easily readable way.
The text is authoritative. To see where they got such a boggling mix of information, check the back of the book: their "Sources" fill more than 4 pages. Their approach is even-handed, it relies on facts to give an unvarnished view of true history.

Events are organized by Eastern Front combat zones with the focus on how air battles affected the outcome of major battles. As with Volume 1, the authors continue to illuminate new material and go on to dig into reasons why. A prime example is their thought-provoking chapter on the Demyansk pocket airlift.

Throughout the text, outstanding pilots of both sides get recognition for their exploits and often enough the worthy but lesser knowns also get their due.

In one respect, volume 2 improves on its predecessor -- illustrations. Photos are better. Also, fresh, hi-quality profile art of representative aircraft is abundant. Captions often add interesting detail.

A brief review can not capture all the strengths of this work which breaks new ground and does it so well. I've tried to avoid being redundant with other reviewers and recommend that interested buyers also check into other comments, including those for Volume 1."

"Another wonderful volume!
I originally ordered this book in August, but delays in shipping prevented it from arriving in my hands until recently. Let me say that the wait is all the more frustrating because this is a wonderful book!
Volume 2 of Black Cross / Red Star retains the written quality of Christer Bergstrom and Andrey Mikhailov, but adds aviation color profiles done by such notables as Claes Sundin and Tom Tullis. Those in the aviation community are familiar with their excellent work.

When I reviewed Volume 1, I made comments about the quality of the maps and photos. The authors and publisher listened to reader feedback and made the necessary corrections. The maps are outstanding! No blurring and all place names are readable. This greatly assists the reader when following the myriad of battles on the Eastern Front.

The strength of Black Cross / Red Star has always been the team of Bergstrom and Mikhailov. They intermix dates, times, persons and events with first-person accounts by all protagonists. Using this formula, the numbers and facts are given a human face. Joy, triumph, sorrow and pain all lie beneath all military statistics. For every victor there is a defeated foe. The reader learns about them in their own words from diaries and interviews.

Every day, surviving veterans pass on. Books like Black Cross / Red Star will soon be the only resource by which they will be remembered.

I highly recommend this book to anyone with even a sprinkling of interest in historical aviation."


* Mark Dice at Eastern Carolina Plastic Modelers:

"Black Cross Red Star Vol.1&2: I highly recommend these books as a must read for the individual who is interested in the air war on the Eastern front during WWII. Most of the histories on this front have covered the land war, with its epic tank battles and severe human suffering, while only making scant mention of the battle in the air. But the air war was huge too with large loss of life and great battles, fought by brave men, which often ruled the outcome of the land battles below. I feel these books give equal consideration to both sides without favoring one political view over another, while accurately reporting the history of this tragic conflict."

 

* Dave Williams at Aviation Booklist, November 2001:

"Christer Bergstrom and Andrey Mikhailov return with volume II of Black Cross Red Star. This 4 volume set promises to become definitive as the authors cover the complex history and vast scope of the Russian front. Pretty much everything I wrote concerning Volume 1 applies here (see above). The authors' unique approach results in balanced reporting free from hyperbole as the normally faceless Soviet side fleshes itself out under the authors' skilled hands. Numerous colored plates are included featuring beautifully illustrated Allied and Axis aircraft. Like its predecessor, Volume 2 contains numerous photographs depicting the men, machines, and often brutal conditions under which they fought. There is much pathos associated with the Russian campaign and the authors do a splendid job of detailing the stark nature of war in this theatre. Although scholarly, the book never bogs down and the larger strategic picture is constantly balanced by intimate portraits of pilots representing both sides of the conflict. Simply put, Black Cross Red Star is absolutely "must" reading for anyone interested in the Eastern front during WWII. The book constitutes a truly unique and unheralded contribution to our understanding of the German-Russian campaign. Highly Recommended!"

http://www.aviation-booklist.com/generaleuro.html#Blackcross

 

* Daniel Olsson's review at Barnes & Noble on March 8, 2002:

"An excellent book!

"The second part in the Black Cross/Red Star series focus on the air war between january june 1942, perhaps the least know phase of the entire air war on the eastern front. Knowledge of the air war on the eastern front has always been scarce in the west, and has mostly been influenced by the german point of view. This is a unfortunate result of the cold war, when access to soviet sources was almost nonexistant. But the cold war is over, and the soviet archives are slowly being opened for western scholars. This book is full of interesting information about the equipment, aircraft, tactics and pilot training of the Luftwaffe and the V-VS (Voyenno-Vozdushnye Sily, Soviet Military Airforce. The included glossary is excellent!), not to mention the excellent photos and aircraft profiles. Among the interesting information in this book are accounts of the V-VS and Luftwaffe activity during the soviet winter offensive, the airlifts at Kholm and Demyansk (with some very interesting observations the german leadership ought to have studied closer), the soviet attempt to resupply the trapped Second Assault Army at Lyuban and the air campain against Sevastopol. The authors tries to give an impartial account on the events from the views of both sides, and I think they accomplish this task well. Few books on the war on the eastern front are so unbiased, and I have read many. For the student of the air war in the east this book is necessary, as air, as bread."

* Domingo Garcia's review at Barnes & Noble on November 19, 2001:

"I waited about a month after recieving this book to actually read it. I must say it is just as good as the first one, with numerous anecdotes and facts. It is just amazing that over a half a century later a huge part of history is just being brought out. It is also fitting that the people who fought and died on the eastern front are recognized (finally) like their counter parts on the western front. The only problem is, now I have to wait for the next installment...but I trust the author is already hard at work."

 

* Comments other readers:

"I got this in the mail yesterday, and have to say that it's very nice! This new volume has glossy paper, colour maps, and some excellent colour profiles. I've read through the first few chapters, and it follows the style of the previous volume - very readable, with the focus on both the tactical and individual situations. There are alot of very good photos, and the new paper on which they are printed make for much better image quality. Highly recommended." http://www.simhq.com/simhq3/sims/boards/bbs/Forum35/HTML/001932.html

* Comment by reader A. A.:

"The "Black Cross, Red Star" volumes 1 & 2 are excellent, most interesting coupled with unique photos and art I've never seen before."

* Robert E. Wartburg's review at Amazon.com on November 27, 2001:

"Volume 2 of Black Cross / Red Star retains the written quality of Christer Bergstrom and Andrey Mikhailov, but adds aviation color profiles done by such notables as Claes Sundin and Tom Tullis. Those in the aviation community are familiar with their excellent work. When I reviewed Volume 1, I made comments about the quality of the maps and photos. The authors and publisher listened to reader feedback and made the necessary corrections. The maps are outstanding! No blurring and all place names are readable. This greatly assists the reader when following the myriad of battles on the Eastern Front. The strength of Black Cross / Red Star has always been the team of Bergstrom and Mikhailov. They intermix dates, times, persons and events with first-person accounts by all protagonists. Using this formula, the numbers and facts are given a human face. Joy, triumph, sorrow and pain all lie beneath all military statistics. For every victor there is a defeated foe. The reader learns about them in their own words from diaries and interviews. Every day, surviving veterans pass on. Books like Black Cross / Red Star will soon be the only resource by which they will be remembered. I highly recommend this book to anyone with even a sprinkling of interest in historical aviation."

* Stephen Fedor's review at Amazon.com on February 18, 2002:

"Couldn't be better

Looking at BC/RS as a series, the overwhelming weight of reviewers rate it 5-stars. I heartily agree. The authors are gifted, analyzing the multiple factors relevant to combat and battle outcomes, then expressing their findings in an easily readable way.

The text is authoritative. To see where they got such a boggling mix of information, check the back of the book: their 'Sources' fill more than 4 pages. Their approach is even-handed, it relies on facts to give an unvarnished view of true history. Events are organized by Eastern Front combat zones with the focus on how air battles affected the outcome of major battles. As with Volume 1, the authors continue to illuminate new material and go on to dig into reasons why. A prime example is their thought-provoking chapter on the Demyansk pocket airlift.

Throughout the text, outstanding pilots of both sides get recognition for their exploits and often enough the worthy but lesser knowns also get their due.

In one respect, volume 2 improves on its predecessor -- illustrations. Photos are better. Also, fresh, hi-quality profile art of representative aircraft is abundant. Captions often add interesting detail. A brief review can not capture all the strengths of this work which breaks new ground and does it so well.

I've tried to avoid being redundant with other reviewers and recommend that interested buyers also check into other comments, including those for Volume 1."

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0935553517/qid=1014678564/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/104-8933410-8370366

Bestselling rating on Amazon.com, November 29, 2001:
"Books Search Results: 1553 total matches for 'Military - Aviation'. The most popular are (Results sorted by: Bestselling):

7. "Black Cross/Red Star: The Air War Over the Eastern Front: Vol. 2: Resurgence"

 

Bestselling rating on Amazon.com, February 26, 2002:
"Books Search Results: 1599 total matches for 'Military - Aviation'. The most popular are (Results sorted by: Bestselling):

5. "Black Cross/Red Star: The Air War Over the Eastern Front: Vol. 2: Resurgence"

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