Arguably the archetypal Luftwaffe fighter unit of World War 2, JG 53 aircraft were encountered on almost every fighting front from the first day of hostilities until the last. Its famous and familiar "Ace of Spades" unit emblem, which was displayed throughout the war, has, in effect, become visual shorthand for the wartime German fighter arm, being seen on die-cast models, prints, illustrations and book covers the world over. During almost six years of near constant campaigning, JG 53 took a steady toll of Allied aircraft - French, British, Soviet and American - in every theater it fought over. Its aircraft were present in some of the fiercest aerial actions of the war - the Battle of Britain, El Alamein, Stalingrad, Normandy and the Defence of the Reich.
Although the JG 53 remained true to the Messerschmitt Bf 109 during its entire career, the variety of camouflage finishes worn by its machines - a unique three-tone scheme in the early years, winter white, desert dapple and Reich's defence black - and the steady progression of variants from Bf 109E to Bf 109K, are reflected in an eye-opening color section. John Weal has spent years researching in the German Federal Archives and this together with his personal contact with several veterans results in an authoritative and human account of JG 53's long and eventful war.
About the Author
John Weal is Osprey's primary Luftwaffe author and artist. He possesses one of the largest private collections of original German-language literature from World War 2 and his research is based on this huge archive. Fluent in German, Weal has spent much time establishing contact with ex-members of the Luftwaffe, from General Staff Officers of the RLM to frontline aircrew. A freelance airbrush artist since the days of the monthly RAF Flying Review, he has illustrated some of the finest Luftwaffe profiles to date. The author lives in Berkshire, England.
Praise for Jagdgeschwader 53 'Pik-As'…
"Chock full of photographs of the men and machines of JG 53, the book is further enhanced by several pages of color profiles showing the variety of camouflage schemes worn by this unit over the years. A book that needs to be on the shelf of every Luftwaffe and 109 fan, and one that I can highly recommend to you." -Scott Van Aken, modelingmadness.com (December 2007)