Luftwaffe X-Planes: German Experimental Aircraft of World War II. By Manfred Griehl. Yorkshire, U.K.: Frontline Books, 2015. Tables. Photographs. Appendices. Pp. 80. $24.95 ISBN: 978-1-84832789-4
Although the Treaty of Versailles, which ended World War I, called for the dissolution of the German air force and military aviation industry, it didn't take long for Germany to resume the design, development, and testing of military aircraft. The nation found ways to violate the intent of the treaty while seemingly complying with its provisions. For example, several aircraft that were ostensibly to be used as transports by German civilian airlines were, in fact, the prototypes for medium and heavy bombers. Germany also bypassed the treaty by conducting developmental work outside its borders, to include locations in the Soviet Union, Sweden, and Switzerland.
In addition to exploiting treaty loopholes, Germany also conducted an extensive aircraft development program on its own soil in a secret program that was in direct violation of the treaty. The veil of secrecy was lifted in 1935, when Germany repudiated the treaty and established the Luftwaffe. Luftwaffe X-Planes is a history of Germany's military aircraft development and testing program from the early 1920s to the end of World War II.
Griehl uses a two-part approach. In the first part he describes the ten evaluation sites where most aircraft testing was conducted. Griehl discusses many of the aircraft types that were tested at each site and describes how the sites expanded over the years. The second section is a collection of more than 100 photographs, most of which show aircraft in the testing process. Each photo caption describes some aspect of the airplane and its development.
Unfortunately, the two-part approach is a major shortcoming and makes the book ineffective. In the first section the reader might find a few facts about a given airplane that was tested at a specific evaluation site. But to find...