The JG 26 War Diary, Volume I, 1939-1942

Donald Caldwell

"Aviation enthusiasts should not miss this book."
- Bill Stone,

JG 26 was considered by both the Allies and the Axis to be the best German fighter unit from 1940 to 1944. It gained that status initially as a result of outstanding leadership during the Battle of Britain in 1940, and held it as a natural outgrowth of its war station on the Channel coast, where its mission was to fend off attacks by the best aircraft and airmen that the Allies could muster. During the years 1941 and 1942 JG 26, with no more than 124 fighters under command, completely dominated the airspace over northern France and western Belgium.
         Presented in a unique data-rich format, this volume covers the unit from its origin to the end of 1942, when it had reached the peak of its power and influence. The main body comprises a daily chronology of the wing’s activities. As only two of the thirty volumes of the unit’s official diary survived the war, the creation of a daily combat log was not a simple matter of transcribing records, but required careful comparison of Allied documents, especially those derived from radio intelligence, with the limited material available from Germany. The book is based largely on primary documentation obtained from the unit’s veterans and on material from the national archives of Germany and the UK and from the USAF Historical Research Agency. Despite their unavailability in German the author’s first two books on JG 26 proved extremely popular with the unit’s veterans, resulting in unprecedented access to their personal documents and photo collections. This book is thus new in every respect. In common with all of the author’s works, it is a highly readable, unbiased, thoroughly-researched history.
         The book is fully illustrated and annotated. It contains 150 previously-unpublished photos of JG 26 personalities, scenes, and aircraft; area maps; and a complete bibliography. Lists of JG 26 casualties (with Allied victors) and JG 26 aerial victories (with Allied victims) are included in the text. The appendices contain lists of the unit’s bases and commanders. Such compilations were very unusual in English-language histories when the book first appeared, and have been of great value for enthusiasts and historical researchers.

This book has just been reprinted as a softback by Stackpole Books:


Selected Reviews:


“Donald Caldwell…. has produced a third title about… [JG 26]. This is his best one yet. It is, as the title states, very much a war diary and the material is organized in the form of diary entries. For each day there is a narrative account of the air action (longer or shorter, depending on how much occurred on that date) and—depending on the intensity of the action—after every few days there is a table summarizing JG 26 victory claims and casualties for the period. These are very precise and detailed… Scattered throughout the chapters are quotes and recollections from participants, photos, and other supporting material…
         “Excellent information well presented, and a very handsome, well-done production job. Aviation enthusiasts should not miss this book.”
— Bill Stone,


Buy the hardback from the author (signed copy) or the American distributor or English publisher.

Buy the softback from its publisher

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