Book Review
Bf 109E/F vs Yak-1/7
Bf 109E/F vs Yak-1/7 Eastern Front 1941-1942
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Bf 109E/F vs Yak-1/7 Eastern Front 1941-1942 is Osprey Publishing Ltd's 65th title in their series Duel. Duel explores and explains the featured antagonists
    ...from design and development through to combat, with a thorough analysis of all the human, tactical and technical elements....

Osprey's Duel series has always left me enthusiastic about the topic and anticipating the next one. Yet some I think fall short of an actual "duel" and are more of a story about two opponents used in the same war. When I learned that this Duel was forthcoming, I was excited for the release date to arrive. I have been fascinated by the Eastern Front air war since reading Horrido! decades ago; many books since then have educated me about specific aircraft, squadrons or individual pilots, yet most leave the reader to extrapolate how the aircraft specifically performed against each other. The Bf 109E/F frequently encountered the Yak-1/7. So with great expectations I cracked the cover of this book to read how they matched up.

Bf 109E/F vs Yak-1/7 is written by Russian aviation research authors Dmitriy Khazanov and Aleksander Medved, and illustrated by artists Jim Laurier, Gareth Hector, and Andrey Yurgenson. Eighty pages deliver the story and the book is available in paperback and ePUB formats.

    Step into the cockpits of the Luftwaffe's Bf 109 and the Red Air Force's Yaks 1-7, two fighters which were involved in some of the largest, fiercest aerial battles in history. The Iconic Messerschmitt fighter and its combat hardened pilots inflicted a fearful beating on the Yaks in the beginning of the war. Some of the highest scoring aces in history benefitted from the Bf 109's technical superiority over the overweight and underpowered Yak 1, racking up incredible successes against their poorly trained and equipped adversaries. And yet, as the Soviets accumulated combat experience, their tactics improved, as did their mounts in the upgraded Yak 1B and gradually, the Red Force eroded the Jagdwaffe's dominance of the skies in the eastern front, though with the 109G they would never lose qualitative superiority. Featuring first-hand accounts from veteran pilots, rare archival photographs and expert analysis, this volume brings to life the vicious dogfights that took place between the Bf 109 and the Yak as they vied for mastery of the frozen skies of the Eastern Front. - Osprey

Authors Dmitriy Khazanov and Aleksander Medved present this duel through 80 pages of 11 chapters and sections:
    Design & Development
    Technical Specifications
    Strategic Situation
    Statistics and Analysis
    Further Reading

While there seems to be a slight translation barrier, I found the concepts and narratives easy to follow. The authors obviously have a great deal of archival resources from which they prepared this material. A favorite part of any book, first-person accounts, enrich this book.

Interestingly, the authors begin Introduction by addressing seven notions, as they say, perpetuated through the Cold War propaganda of the reasons for the poor showing of Soviet tactical air at the beginning of the Russo-German war. They quickly segue to the life and times of Aleksander Yakolev and these aircraft his design bureau created for the VVS-KA (Voenno-Vozdushniye Sily Kransnoy Armii, the Red Army Air Force).

Design & Development and Technical Specifications details the creation, testing and fighting of the Yak and Messerschmitt fighters through 24 detailed pages. Interestingly, both the Yak and Messerschmitt airframes went through significant redesign between the Yak 1 and 7, and Bf 109E and 109F. Each is discussed through prototypes and subvariants, including changes in designations. Eleven models of the Yak are described, from the I-26 prototype through the Yak-7-37. Likewise, 16 versions of the the '109 are described, starting with the Bf 109E-1 through the Bf 109F-6.

The ten pages of Strategic Situation for this book are more interesting than it is in some of the other Duel titles. It features specific units and numbers of aircraft, even allotments of ammunition. Next, Combatants details the recruitment and training of Soviet and Nazi pilots. Fighter pilots Mikhail Dmitrievich Baranov and Hermann Graf each receive a full page biography.

Combat Tactics and Organizational Structure recounts how VVS and the Luftwaffe were set up. This section is interesting in the actual air-to-air comparisons begin to be told. That chapter and the next, Combat, account for 22 pages that highlight the dogfights of Yaks and Messerschmitts. Included is an almost two-page narrative by Hermann Graf of a 30-minute dogfight between himself and a Soviet flight leader; this account shows that even an Experten in a Friedrich could be fought to a draw by a good Yak-1 pilot! Another recollection is by Soviet ace Igor Kaberov of his scramble (That occurred during his initial cockpit checkout!) which lead to a dogfight! Still another recount demonstrates just how aggressive Jagdfliegern were, chasing VVS fighters over their own bases even while the Bf 109s were short of fuel! Much of the fighting described in these chapters center around the Stalingrad campaign.

In Statistics and Analysis and Aftermath presents more combat stories around Kharkov and summarizes the previous chapters. Considered are the failures of the VVS but also addresses that by 1943-44, the same Yak-1 and -7 were giving good accounts of themselves against even the newer models of Bf 109s. Finally, the authors sum up their analysis of why the air war went the way it did 1941-1942.

I found a couple of minor typos but they are not of concern to me.

photos, artwork, graphics
Supporting the text are dozens of marvelous photographs, excellent original artwork including cutaways, and a host of tables of data. Considering the relative dearth of photos during the Cold War, the selection of photographs available today simply amazes me. It seems I write the following often, yet this book includes many images I have never seen before. The visual component of this book should rate serious consideration for the modeler or historian. Stalin made extensive use of photographers in his propaganda service and this book benefits with excellent, clear, detailed images. The Germans enjoyed their cameras, too, as will be seen in their selection. Overall the selection and quality of the photographic support is some of the best I recall. Unfortunately, all are black-and-white which is disappointing, as I have a full color print of one of the included photos.

Artists Jim Laurier, Gareth Hector, and Andrey Yurgenson have enriched this book with excellent artwork, as follows.

1. 3-view of Yak-7B, Snr Sgt Pavel Karavai, 897th IAP.

2. 3-view of Bf 109F-4, Maj. Hannes Trautloft, JG 54.

3. Cutaway: Yak-1 Armament

4. Cutaway: Bf 109F Machine Guns

5. Cutaway: Bf 109F Cannon

6. VVS-KA and Luftwaffe fighter formations:
    VVS-KA close vee fighter wing formation.
    VVS-KA column fighter wing formation.
    VVS-KA echelon fighter wing formation.
    Typical formations adopted by VVS-KA Yak-1/7 and Luftwaffe Bf 109 units when entering a dogfight.

7. Yak-1B Cockpit, keyed to 52 components.

8. Bf 109F-4 Cockpit, keyed to 52 items.

9. Typical VVS-KA fighter attack tactic when engaging enemy Bf 109 formation with the element of surprise.

10. Two-page centerfold: Major Mikhail Baranov, 183rd IAP, after ramming a Bf 109 near Abganerovo railway station.

11. Engaging the Enemy: Yak gunsight view of blasting a Bf 109 from 6 O'clock.

    Location of VVS-KA and Luftwaffe units on the eve of Operation Barbarossa (22 June 1941).

    Location of VVS-KA and Luftwaffe units in the Moscow region as of 30 October 1941.

    Location of VVS-KA and Luftwaffe units in the Leningrad region as of October 1942.

Chocks out!
Bf 109E/F vs Yak-1/7 should grace the bookshelf of any modeler, historian or enthusiast of the Barbarossa air war. The Bf 109 engaged the Yak throughout the war so this is a superior concept appropriate for a 'duel' title. My knowledge base was certainly, and enjoyably, expanded by this book. With detailed text plus excellent photographs and artwork, modelers should find it an inspiring book for ideas and detail.

Although the translation to English is not silky smooth (It isn't always between British English and American English either, after all.) the authors successfully impart their story to the reader.

I am very happy to have Bf 109E/F vs Yak-1/7 on my shelf and heartily recommend it!

Please remember to tell vendors and retailers that you saw this book here - on AEROSCALE.
Highs: Detailed text plus excellent photographs and artwork.
Lows: Minor typos.
Verdict: The Bf 109 engaged the Yak throughout the war so this is a superior concept appropriate as a 'duel'. My knowledge base was certainly, and enjoyably, expanded by this book. Modelers should find it an inspiring book for ideas and detail.
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: 9781472805799
  Suggested Retail:  $18.95
  PUBLISHED: Sep 27, 2015

Our Thanks to Osprey Publishing!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright 2021 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.


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