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This recent re-print of a title introduced 33 years ago is still quite valuable, since the information originally included was, to begin with, based on sound research. So, what appears between these covers is not at all “dated”. This book is also of value since relatively little has been written about these formations since 1972; therefore it still remains a fine (and inexpensive) primer on the subject. The photos, of course, will never be “dated”.
Mr. Windrow, the MAA Series Editor, needs no introduction to those who study uniforms and equipment, or are familiar with Osprey’s premier series. For those who don’t know his “name”, it is a virtual guarantee that what you are reading is definitive (within the limits imposed by the series’ format). He begins the text with a brief on the initial formation and use of Germany’s elite parachute formations, which includes a glimpse into the political reasons for incorporation of these troops into Goering’s “empire”. Early combat in their designated roll as an airborne assault force is covered with the mention of their use in Norway, Belgium (at Eben Emael) and Holland. This is followed by the Pyrrhic victory on Crete as well as mention of the use of these troops as elite light infantry in such places as Tunisia, Sicily, Cassino and Normandy. The 11 “Fallschirmjaeger” Divisions are listed with brief info on their formation and combat use, followed by sections on Flaktruppen and the “Herman Goering” Regiment/Division/Korps. The final bit concerns the 22 Luftwaffe Field Divisions (most of which were “divisions” in name only) and their uneven performance in the field.
As one would expect, there is detailed coverage of uniforms, while special weapons and equipment are briefly covered. This is supported by 37 B&W photographs and two charts (one depicting various related badges, the other showing the unit insignia of 1., 2. and 4.Fallschirmjaeger-Divisions). The photos are divided between period images of the troops in action and images of preserved uniforms and weapons. There are no photos of heavy equipment such as panzers or ordnance, but I would not say that this is a disadvantage.
The eight pages of color plates depict a total of 24 individuals. There is some excellent variety here, as not only combat uniforms are covered (tropical, temperate, winter, and panzer uniforms are shown), but ceremonial/parade, dress and “walking-out” garments are as well. The color plates are a bit more “stylized” than some of the more recent offerings in this series, but the essential details are there. Likewise, the book is only 40-pages long as opposed to the current 48-pages. But again, I don’t think this detracts from the book’s overall usefulness. After all, this is an early title and the series obviously grew in several ways over the last 30-odd years.
The bottom line is that this is a fine reference for figure painters, especially when one considers that there are a considerable number of Fallschirmjaeger figures available in resin and plastic. Quality re-issues like these are a good thing for the hobby; one hopes that some of the older Vanguard books will also be made available.