Pfalz D.IIIa At War! Volume 2
Centenary Datafile 174
Author: Greg Van Wyngarden
Publisher: Albatros Publications
As 2016 came to a close, one last Datafile appeared on the horizon. This one finishes up the Pfalz D.IIIa At War set, letting the words of the pilots that flew the type tell the story. The majority of the text focuses on operations, but there is also some technical details on the Pfalz D.IIIa as well, making it a nice complement to the regular Datafiles (Nos 7 and 107) on the type.
The book begins with Jasta 52 in 1918 and segues into Jasta 29 before ending with Jasta 64w (which was led by a former Jasta 29 pilot). For all three units, extensive referencing to surviving war diaries make the story very engaging. Following the unit histories, the book then provides a section on pilot reports for the Pfalz D.IIIa. This is followed by a section on Allied impressions of the type, and these two sections together provide a very interesting perspective on the Pfalz as seen from both sides. The book then finishes up with a short technical description and a bit on the post-war use of the Pfalz D.IIIa.
If you think that this is the only text in the book, though, you'd be sorely mistaken. While I have not done an exact word count, I would guess that at least a third and perhaps as much as half of the written word in this book is contained in the photo captions. It is here that some of the more specific information is given, as it relates to a specific Pfalz or Pfalzes. While many of the aircraft depicted in the photographs are interesting, for me the most striking is that of Eugen Siempelkamp of Jasta 29. This plane, finished with green upper surfaces, has a large geometric Tatzelwurm on the fuselage that just looks so cool. This is one of the nine aircraft illustrated in color profile illustrations as well, making it all the more eye-catching.
The color profiles are done by Ronny Bar, who has had his work adorn many of the more recent Datafiles. In addition to eight side views there is one aircraft depicted with a side, top, and bottom view, which shows the application of lozenge fabric to the wings. In addition to the color illustrations, this book also includes a two-page spread of scale drawings, done in 1/32. These are not complete drawings showing every detail, rather they are structural drawings that highlight the internal construction of the wings, tailplane, and fuselage. There are fuselage structural cross sections and wing cross sections as well, but for those looking for external details, you'll have to pick up one of the earlier Datafiles.
This is a great way to finish off the year with a Datafile, as this book is both fun to read and full of eye candy. Unfortunately, this will be the last new Datafile that we will see for the foreseeable future. As mentioned on Ray Rimell's blog, having been in production for over 30 years they have decided to take a deserved break to recharge their batteries and do additional research. Having produced 174 Datafiles in that time is nothing short of amazing, and World War One historians are richer for all the work Albatros Publications has done over the years. I look forward to seeing where the future leads them, as they remain the leader in WWI aviation research. My sincere thanks to Ray Rimell and the rest of the fine folks at Albatros Publications for this review copy and for all their hard work over the last 30 years.