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Secret Projects of the Luftwaffe: Blohm & Voss BV 155 by Dan Sharp

newsdeskdan

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SPL -  Blohm & Voss BV 155 (1).jpg

Secret Projects of the Luftwaffe: Blohm & Voss BV 155
by Dan Sharp

Cover art: Gino Marcomini
Profile artworks: Thierry Vallet
Pages: 116
Price: £12.99 / $19.99
Format: Softback 248 x 184mm
Availability: December 2019
Pre-order: https://www.mortonsbooks.co.uk/product/view/productCode/15026

The story of the Messerschmitt Bf 109’s most radical development, the Blohm & Voss BV 155, began in early 1942 as German planners considered the likelihood of America operating high-altitude bombers over occupied Europe. It was decided that a re-engined Bf 109 with extended wings, a wide-track undercarriage and a pressure cabin could meet this threat and the type was designated Me 155. A complex and challenging period of development followed, with Messerschmitt’s high-altitude fighter going through numerous iterations before manpower shortages and the urgent need to prepare the Me 262 for series production compelled the company to seek outside help.
Hamburg-based Blohm & Voss stepped in and the project became the BV 155. Despite a steep technological learning curve, official indifference and a fraught relationship with Messerschmitt, Blohm & Voss succeeded in building and flying a prototype just over a year after taking on the project. Using original wartime documents, author Dan Sharp explains and explores the history of this fascinating and unusual branch of the Bf 109 fighter family.

BV 155 contents.jpg
 
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newsdeskdan

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I thought this deserved its own thread. It's composed entirely of new content that hasn't appeared in any of my bookazines. Incidentally, two new photographs of the only surviving BV 155 airframe at NASM are included, specially taken for this book. Apparently the airframe is in deep storage and very difficult to access ordinarily.
 
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newsdeskdan

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Now back from the printers - only the second book ever written about the weirdest Bf 109 derivative. Also, possibly the first book on any German 'secret project' to be fully annotated with every source reference listed (about 140 separate period documents).
 

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Pasoleati

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Do you have a sample of a text page?
 

newsdeskdan

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I must admit to not having a designer's eye for such things. My primary focus remains historical accuracy and the use of contemporary illustrations taken directly from period documents. I believe this to be the most accurate account of the Blohm & Voss BV 155's history ever written.
 

newsdeskdan

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Looks interesting to me ... and having the first book (Monogram Close-Up) it will be intersting to compare.

JCC
Thanks JC. Looking through Thomas H. Hitchcock's Monogram Close-Up book on the BV 155 of 1990, it's clear which sources he used, though he doesn't credit them. There are some large gaps in his narrative that I've been able to fill and a few inaccuracies in what he does have that I've been able to correct. Those aspects of his work which stick strictly to the original documents are of course accurate. On the whole though he did a good job with what he had.
The main point on which his work diverges from mine is on the break with Messerschmitt. Hitchcock is very sympathetic to Blohm & Voss (presumably because he'd corresponded with Vogt while the latter was still alive) particularly in describing the mix-up over the meeting on November 11-12, 1943.
Hitchcock relates how the B&V men weren't told about a change of venue, how Professor Messerschmitt himself failed to turn up, how "Herr Pohlmann and his team were surprised that a meal was not provided for them, but instead, they were asked to dine in the general mess hall, which was highly improvised" etc. All of which led to Pohlmann and his team feeling "angry, disappointed and let down by their experience. They felt they had been repeatedly lied to, misled by improvisation and not shown common courtesy".
Looking at this objectively, though, it's evident that Messerschmitt had been bending over backwards to help B&V up to this point, and that B&V had been used to building a handful seaplanes every month whereas Messerschmitt was a vast operation involving a huge supply chain for numerous different types both in service and in development. The B&V men were from a different world, where everything could be done on time and everyone was free to attend any meeting that was called.
Vogt actually rang the RLM to complain (which Hitchcock doesn't mention) and the RLM sent a couple of strongly-worded telegrams to Messerschmitt ordering it to 'stop interfering' with Blohm & Voss. This came as a real shock to Messerschmitt, which then immediately put a stop to all the design and development support it had been providing up to that point. Vogt pushed for sole custody of the project and got it but it was interesting to finally hear the other side of the story from Messerschmitt's documents concerning the exchange.
Then of course there's the issue of who actually crashed the BV 155 V1. I can tell you for certain that it wasn't the careless (and anonymous) British pilot that Hitchcock blames.
 
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GTX

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A bit late for that.
Most unfortunate! Especially as the book format Spitfires over Berlin is fully-justified. Plus medium format books should be done with 2 columns, not 1.
For me, I don't care about the layout but rather the information contained. Looking very much to see/read this one, especially if it is as good as your other publications Dan.
 

JC Carbonel

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I'll tell you after reading it. I will have to check La Maison du Livre as it seems to be the local point were your books are available.
But I greatly appreciate your work on your main Luftwaffe projects line, especially all the background info about meetings going sour etc... Your account on how Lippisch, Horten and Messerchmitt competited on the flying wing idea and how Focke-Wulf denigrated the idea was fascinating.

JCC
 

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A bit late for that.
Most unfortunate! Especially as the book format Spitfires over Berlin is fully-justified. Plus medium format books should be done with 2 columns, not 1.
For me, I don't care about the layout but rather the information contained. Looking very much to see/read this one, especially if it is as good as your other publications Dan.
Content is king for sure, but a little part of me dies inside when great content is presented in a less than beautiful format. There is a beauty of symmetry in a good page layout.

A multi-column layout is primarily about readability not beauty. Long lines are not ideal for reading. However, the book above seems have quite short lines for a single column layout, so either the pages are small or the type quite big, or both, and its not necessarily the the case that it ought to be 2 column for readability.

Justification is harder to argue technically, as most readability research shows that justified text is slightly harder to read, particularly when done badly (Word, I'm looking at you). Its traditional for books to be justified, and it was once only achievable by typesetting professionals, and therefore justified text gives older readers in particular a feeling of being professionally published, as opposed to a "fanzine" or self-published book.
 
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newsdeskdan

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A bit late for that.
Most unfortunate! Especially as the book format Spitfires over Berlin is fully-justified. Plus medium format books should be done with 2 columns, not 1.
For me, I don't care about the layout but rather the information contained. Looking very much to see/read this one, especially if it is as good as your other publications Dan.
Content is king for sure, but a little part of me dies inside when great content is presented in a less than beautiful format. There is a beauty of symmetry in a good page layout.

A multi-column layout is primarily about readability not beauty. Long lines are not ideal for reading. However, the book above seems have quite short lines for a single column layout, so either the pages are small or the type quite big, or both, and its not necessarily the the case that it ought to be 2 column for readability.

Justification is harder to argue technically, as most readability research shows that justified text is slightly harder to read, particularly when done badly (Word, I'm looking at you). Its traditional for books to be justified, and it was once only achievable by typesetting professionals, and therefore justified text gives older readers in particular a feeling of being professionally published, as opposed to a "fanzine" or self-published book.
I must be an oddity in never having bought a book because I appreciated the layout of its pages. Neither have I ever been dissuaded from buying a book because I disliked the layout of its pages.
I have never in my life passed judgement on a book I haven't read, no matter how its pages were laid out - but I am sometimes prepared to say harsh things about books I have read and found to be inaccurate, misleading, poorly researched, dull, badly written or badly edited. The page layout of such a book does not interest me in the slightest. I'm not too fond of speculative material either.
I am ready to spend a lot of money if a book appears to have original secret project drawings in it I've never seen before, or promises to shed new light on a subject I care about. Books which offer accurate technical details hitherto unknown about secret project aircraft designs, particularly British cold war or German WW2, have my full attention.
When I buy a book, the first thing I do is look at the pictures. I shouldn't but I do. Are there any new discoveries to be seen? Then I read the text. How does the author tackle the subject? What is the book saying? What are the key points, the arguments, the lines of enquiry? Is the author telling a straight history or do they have an agenda I can discern by reading between the lines? I mull over their conclusions and think about the points that struck me as incongruous or inspired.
When I have absorbed everything else, I look carefully at the footnotes (if there are any) to see whether there are any sources in there I haven't already investigated myself. Then, if the book struck me as solidly researched and reliable, or as having some other point of merit (despite not being solidly researched and reliable), I put it on my shelf. Otherwise, it goes in one of the 50 litre boxes in the garage - an unfortunate waste of money and a problem for another day.
I know that some people dislike pages designed a certain way, but the way a page is laid out tells me nothing about the secret projects described on it.
 
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gatoraptor

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The only series of books where I thoroughly disliked the text layout were the large-format books that Putnam did late in their life. I hated the three-column layout. I much preferred their classic books.
 

overscan

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Poor layout wouldn’t stop me buying a book if the content is good, but the cost of specialist books is usually high and I feel that great content deserves to be presented in the best way possible. What angers me is easily avoidable mistakes. For example Jared Zichek’s book which has multiple pages of almost illegible drawings which would have taken mere minutes to correct in a photo editing application.

Often the author is at the mercy of the publisher, and publishers no longer have skilled designers in house. So it’s a bit of a lottery. I did my own layout for my P1121 book due to unavailability of the normal person which is why my book looks a little different from other project tech books. Text is justified for example.
 

newsdeskdan

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These days I aim to simply write the most factually accurate histories I can, based on period source material, but back when I started out writing bookazines like Sex, Spies and Nuclear Missiles I used to come up with a visual concept for each chapter - colours and themes which complemented the text. I also used to agonize over the text in a way I wouldn't today - probably because I was forced to rely on existing secondary and tertiary sources for reference. I would obliquely refute some sources, challenge existing arguments and try to offer my own interpretation of the 'facts' (I had little idea of how to go about checking those facts using primary sources at this stage). I thought I was terribly clever, building Easter eggs into the text which I knew most people wouldn't notice and constructing sentences in a very particular way for my own amusement. No one ever actually noticed any of this.
I honestly can't recall anything about the number of columns used or whether the text was justified or not.
 

edwest

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A bit late for that.
Most unfortunate! Especially as the book format Spitfires over Berlin is fully-justified. Plus medium format books should be done with 2 columns, not 1.
For me, I don't care about the layout but rather the information contained. Looking very much to see/read this one, especially if it is as good as your other publications Dan.
Content is king for sure, but a little part of me dies inside when great content is presented in a less than beautiful format. There is a beauty of symmetry in a good page layout.

A multi-column layout is primarily about readability not beauty. Long lines are not ideal for reading. However, the book above seems have quite short lines for a single column layout, so either the pages are small or the type quite big, or both, and its not necessarily the the case that it ought to be 2 column for readability.

Justification is harder to argue technically, as most readability research shows that justified text is slightly harder to read, particularly when done badly (Word, I'm looking at you). Its traditional for books to be justified, and it was once only achievable by typesetting professionals, and therefore justified text gives older readers in particular a feeling of being professionally published, as opposed to a "fanzine" or self-published book.
I must be an oddity in never having bought a book because I appreciated the layout of its pages. Neither have I ever been dissuaded from buying a book because I disliked the layout of its pages.
I have never in my life passed judgement on a book I haven't read, no matter how its pages were laid out - but I am sometimes prepared to say harsh things about books I have read and found to be inaccurate, misleading, poorly researched, dull, badly written or badly edited. The page layout of such a book does not interest me in the slightest. I'm not too fond of speculative material either.
I am ready to spend a lot of money if a book appears to have original secret project drawings in it I've never seen before, or promises to shed new light on a subject I care about. Books which offer accurate technical details hitherto unknown about secret project aircraft designs, particularly British cold war or German WW2, have my full attention.
When I buy a book, the first thing I do is look at the pictures. I shouldn't but I do. Are there any new discoveries to be seen? Then I read the text. How does the author tackle the subject? What is the book saying? What are the key points, the arguments, the lines of enquiry? Is the author telling a straight history or do they have an agenda I can discern by reading between the lines? I mull over their conclusions and think about the points that struck me as incongruous or inspired.
When I have absorbed everything else, I look carefully at the footnotes (if there are any) to see whether there are any sources in there I haven't already investigated myself. Then, if the book struck me as solidly researched and reliable, or as having some other point of merit (despite not being solidly researched and reliable), I put it on my shelf. Otherwise, it goes in one of the 50 litre boxes in the garage - an unfortunate waste of money and a problem for another day.
I know that some people dislike pages designed a certain way, but the way a page is laid out tells me nothing about the secret projects described on it.

I have been in the book business a long time. In this particular case, information comes first, followed by readability. Of the handful of original CIOS and BIOS reports I have, I could care less about layout. The content meant that what I paid for them left my mind shortly after I started reading. Since I have knowledge of typesetting and keylining by hand, I understand the two column, justified text approach, among other things. And I respect this standard. However, in some specific cases, I can understand the approach used by this book publisher. If I was in charge, it would be two columns but I am not.

Thank you Dan. And as soon as I see the words "unpublished photos" or "unpublished drawings," I need only see that the author is a professional and that book goes to the top of a very long list. I will close by saying I recently bought a book about something I really wanted good information on, but the author overlaid his own words among factual history. It was highly unnecessary.
 

Sundog

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Ordered, along with a book and three other soft cover books by Dan. I've had electronic versions of the soft cover books, but I like having something tactile. :)
 

overscan

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These days I aim to simply write the most factually accurate histories I can, based on period source material, but back when I started out writing bookazines like Sex, Spies and Nuclear Missiles I used to come up with a visual concept for each chapter - colours and themes which complemented the text. I also used to agonize over the text in a way I wouldn't today - probably because I was forced to rely on existing secondary and tertiary sources for reference. I would obliquely refute some sources, challenge existing arguments and try to offer my own interpretation of the 'facts' (I had little idea of how to go about checking those facts using primary sources at this stage). I thought I was terribly clever, building Easter eggs into the text which I knew most people wouldn't notice and constructing sentences in a very particular way for my own amusement. No one ever actually noticed any of this.
I honestly can't recall anything about the number of columns used or whether the text was justified or not.
I am a text person, love reading, good at spotting typos. My graphics abilities are strictly secondary. My friend is a former typesetter and graphic designer.

One day was outraged by the most atrocious spelling in an magazine. "Jesus, look at that!" I said, pointing to the offending text. "That's awful, the font is horizontally scaled far too wide, really disgusting" replied my friend.
 
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