Eagle Files #5:Stormbird Colors

Construction, Camouflage and Markings of the Me262

by Brett Green and Benjamin Evans

reviewed by Steve Jantscher

This represents the fifth Eagle Files book published by the suppliers of the excellent EagleCals series of decals, and the second by Brett Green. When early word of this book hit Hyperscale, I was one of many eager to get their hands on it. A new '262 book to go with the new Tamiya Me 262, what could be better? Well, at least the model is good.

This is the standard 90 page format soft cover book. The inner cover end flaps have color scrap views of unit identification colors as applied to the '262's nose, mid fuselage, tail tip and RVG bands. Inside are 45 historical black and white photographs, 46 (color) modern detail shots of the only surviving bomber version of a '262 and 4 contemporary color photos. Ten side view profiles of various Me 262 versions, each with a detailed caption. There are also eight pages of indifferent quality line and structure drawings.

Something called "Stormbird Colors" should deal with the painting, camouflage, unit and national markings of the '262. The best example of such a book is undoubtedly the very excellent JaPo book Messerschmitt Bf 109K, Camouflage & Marking. See my earlier review here about that book, or save your time and just order it now! It is that good.

This book tries to offer too much to too many people. There are large gaps of blank space on many pages and silly reproductions of line drawings, and lifted but untranslated pages from original German flight manuals. One gets the impression of not having enough material of original work or high enough quality to make up a book of this length and having to fill it up with something to get it published as close to the introduction of Tamiya kit as possible.

The historical photographs are fine, often being multiple shots of the same aircraft, which is good, but the captions are difficult to understand. Here is an example of the confused caption writing. "The same aircraft, werknummer 110376, on a scrap heap in December 1945 at Neubiberg. Note the very unusual White Hakenkreuz with a fine Black outline, the dapple pattern on the rear fuselage spine and the unpainted wing leading edge." The photograph above this caption does show another photograph of the Me 262 "White 7", (presumably werknumber 110376). This aircraft is tail up among many aircraft and various parts. This aircraft does indeed have a "dappled tail pattern" (the tadpole scheme), however the white swastika with fine black outline and the bare metal leading edge belong to another aircraft entirely (I believe an Fw-190 D9). Many of the photo captions are likewise unfocused and not particularly enlightening.

That is not to say that this book is without value. It does have some unique historical photographs of strangely painted aircraft (but not many). I especially found fascinating the chessboard camouflage pattern. This is also depicted as one of the Thomas Tullis color profiles.

The history and modern photos of "Black X" ( an Australian Me 262 bomber variant) present a large and difficult portion of the book for this reviewer. I did not understand the authors' stressing the value of this aircraft as the "... only remaining Me 262 to retain its original paint." and then in the next paragraph stating that this frame has suffered through at least three rounds of repainting. I found the modern photographs to be almost without any value to the model builder, and the captions to be of even less value. The remaining paint scheme on the aircraft is in such poor condition, that the very close in photographs (for the most part) provide a confusing glimpse of various airframe surfaces in poor chipped and over painted segments. There is no real research presented concerning the markings left on this aircraft. No providence to any of the many colors seen.

The authors seem to demean those "other" remaining Me 262s as some how being less valuable to modelers or historians than this disassembled and poorly stored airframe. I , on the other hand believe that in many cases these other museum restored aircraft offer better documented research and reconstruction, and thus better material to aid a modeler in reproducing how the aircraft looked after assembly in 1944 or '45.

"Black X", the Australian Me 262 that is the close-up subject of this book, reminds me more of scraps from a crash sight, than a relic from a storage facility.

All that said and done, I can't recommend this book. As a guide to paint schemes and camouflage, it falls way short of it's promise. As a historical document, the Osprey book German Jet Aces is better, and cheaper. As a manual providing detailed photographs for the modeler, the Aero Detail #9, Messerschmitt Me 262 is much better for its photography and scrap detail and line drawings. Finally, a better overall affordable series of history and technical descriptions as well as photographs and drawings of the '262 can be found in the two volumes from AJ Press Me 262 Schwalbe parts 1 and 2. That is not even to mention the definitive four volume Classic Publication series on the '262 by Smith and Creek. If you've got any of these books, then you really don't need this book.

Coming after the previous Eagle Files, especially Brett Green's excellent Augsburg's Last Eagles, this effort pales by comparison. Open the oven and put it back in, this book is half baked.

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