Black Cross Red Star Vol.1&2
by Mark Dice


The air war on the Eastern front during WWII was the largest and longest in history but also one of the least written about. These two books are the first in a series that will try to extensively account what happened from the perspectives of both sides. With the opening of the Soviets' records since the fall of the USSR, these books also will include much "new" information not available until recently.

These two books are items I originally got to help in developing campaigns for my IL-2 Sturmovik computer game (…again this game intrudes into my #1 hobby) but they lend themselves very well as references for the modeling hobby as well… at least that's what I'm saying to justify my purchase of them…

Volume 1 covers the conflict from June through December of 1941, Operation Barbarossa. It's 255 pages long with an additional 30+ pages of appendices, maps, forwards, glossaries. It has on nearly every page black & white pictures showing the various aircraft and the pilots who flew them with very descriptive captions. The book begins with a few chapters of background and comparison of the Soviet and German air training/doctrine/equipment and the state of both services leading up to the German invasion of Russia.

The conflict history is told chronologically along the three basic fronts (Northern, Central, Southern) of the German invasion, so it does hop around a good bit (that's a lot of ground to cover!!). It's told mostly in a general overview covering the key happenings on that front, interspersed with the personal stories of certain figures for both sides during that time frame. Sometimes the accounts of the events are in the own words of the combatant. Performance of the various aircraft is also covered showing the positive and negative aspects of each service's readiness and tactics.

The book's cover price is $39.95 but it is now out of print, so the price has increased to $75.00 and it can be difficult to locate. I found mine through Amazon.com, which connected me to a third party seller (ironically, I paid less for a new copy than what was being asked for a used copy).

Volume 2 covers the conflict from December 1941 through June 1942. It's 212 pages long with another 20+ pages of appendices, maps, forwards glossaries. Again, there are black & white pictures on nearly every page with the very welcome addition of several full-page color profiles of the various types of planes used by both sides. The maps are also color in this volume. The format appears to be the same as described above in regards to the text (I've not read this book as of yet, still reading #1) with a chronological overview type history interspersed with the personal stories of key figures.

The book's cover price was $39.95 but Amazon.com had it for only $27.97.

Volume 3 is supposed to be released this fall sometime…

I highly recommend these books as a must read for the individual who is interested in the air war on the Eastern front during WWII. Most of the histories on this front have covered the land war, with its epic tank battles and severe human suffering, while only making scant mention of the battle in the air. But the air war was huge too with large loss of life and great battles, fought by brave men, which often ruled the outcome of the land battles below. I feel these books give equal consideration to both sides without favoring one political view over another, while accurately reporting the history of this tragic conflict.