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Black Cross/Red Star Volume 3
Everything for Stalingrad

By Christer Bergström, Andrey Dikov, Vlad Antipov
Illustrated by Claes Sundin

Reviewed by Ilya Grinberg

Several years passed since the release of the previous volume of the Black Cross/Red Star series. Well, the wait is over and I hope that the next (fourth) volume will see publication a lot sooner.

A welcome change is immediately visible in Volume 3 and it deals with the authors’ team. Now two respectable researchers from Russia (Andrey Dikov and Vlad Antipov) are acknowledged as full co-authors, rather than just mere collaborators for this book.

This volume is published by Eagle Editions and is printed on nice glossy paper with high quality of photographs and color profiles.
Many photographs are seen here for the first time to most of the readers and are very well positioned throughout the text. Few photographs, however (such as on page 221) were taken a year later from discussed period and at a different theater. Although they do represent the type it will be worth mentioning that, in some cases, dates and locations are not relevant to the time span covered by the book.

Color profiles by Claes Sundin are well done in his usual manner. My only wish is that I would prefer to see more of them and perhaps of different aircraft types. More representation of the VVS bomber and attack types would have been nice. The A-20 Boston and Il-2, for example, played an important role during aerial battles described in the book and as such would have been very appropriate instead of a number of P-40s and Bf-109s already nicely illustrated through this volume and in Volume 2. Some purists will also argue about the colors of tactical numbers (such as yellow 16 on page 175 or yellow identifications of Yak-7B on page 236).

The book is subtitled Everything for Stalingrad and concentrates mainly on the aerial operations in this area. Other operations during the same period, such as Arctic and Rzhev are also discussed in details.

Part 1 deals with the overview of the strengths and weaknesses of both sides prior to the summer battles of 1942. It gives a reader rather complete picture of tactics employed, evaluation of the adversaries from both sides, and what I consider the strongest point of this book (as well as of the entire series) it gives very good feel of the role of tactical air power and its dramatic influence on ground operations.

Part 2 describes the race of the Luftwaffe to the south with excellent explanations of logistical problems and the stiff resistance that the VVS was putting up in the face of the advancing enemy. Many episodes described here illustrate well the dynamics of the situation.

Part 3 covers activities at the other sectors of the front, such as Leningrad, Arctic, and Central combat zone.

Part 4 deals with activities in the sky over Stalingrad and shows dramatic situation almost on a personal level.

Part 5 describes operations over Caucuses, Arctic convoy battles, gives very interesting coverage of women pilots in the ranks of VVS.

Part 6 is rather short and along with Part 7 provides conclusions.

A number of Appendices, chapter notes, glossary, bibliography, acknowledgements, and index follows in the usual manner.

My overall impressions are entirely favorable. The book accomplishes well its main task: to provide an overview of aerial operations on the Eastern Front, to analyze strengths and weaknesses of both sides, to show dynamics of the growth of the Soviet air power through painful and dramatic losses, and to demonstrate inevitable decline of the still very strong Luftwaffe. All of this is presented in an excellent, easy-to-read and understand style targeted to a broad audience and not just military professionals.
I feel that it is an excellent work in the form of general overview of major aerial operations. It should not be viewed as day-by day combat units history (this is a different genre), nor should it be viewed as a complete historical analysis of the air war in the East (in this case the period described in the book will take several volumes and will be targeted to fairly narrow group of scholars), but it does accomplish the task of what it was meant for.

This book is highly recommended.

My thanks go to Eagles Edition for review sample.