The German Aces Speak II: World War II through the Eyes of Four More of the Luftwaffe's Most Important Commanders. By Colin D. Heaton and Anne-Marie Lewis. Minneapolis Minn.: Zenith Press, 2014. Photographs. Bibliography. Index. Pp. viii, 296. $30.00 ISBN: 978-07603-4590-0
About 2,500 Luftwaffe fighter pilots gained ace status in World War II. Of these, 103 had more than 100 credits, thirteen logged 200-300 credits, and two scored more than 300 kills. The German Aces Speak II contains four interviews of these top aces: Erich Hartmann (325 credits, the top ace of all time), Gunther Rall (275 credits, the third highest scoring ace), Johannes Steinhoff (176 kills), and Dietrich Hrabak (125 kills). This volume is a sequel to a 2011 book by Heaton and Lewis with a similar title that covered four other German aces, two of which were high scorers: Walter Krupinski (197 kills) and Adolf Galland (102 credits).
A number of criticisms of this book can be made immediately. First, the coverage is uneven, with Hartman's contribution consisting of 116 pages; Steinhoff's just over ninety pages; Rall's forty pages; and Hrabak's twenty-two pages. A second issue is that these interviews were conducted many decades after the war, with all the hazards of hindsight. There is no indication why these four men were selected for this book.
That said, these interviews are of a very high quality; thus, the book is a solid contribution to the literature. Heaton and Lewis reveal much about a number of interesting aspects of the careers of these aces: why and how they got into flying, flying training, the pre-war Luftwaffe, and, of course, their wartime service. They discuss various other personalities including a number...