He 177 ‘Greif’

Design, Production and Operations by Tim Dinan

The Luftwaffe of the Second World War were not generally associated with long-range heavy bombers compared to the Allied air forces who could call upon quite a range such as the Lancaster, Halifax, B-17 and B-24 to name a few. Born in 1936, the Heinkel He 177 Greif (‘Griffin’) was as close as the Lufwaffe came to having its own long-range heavy bomber which, once its many niggles were ironed out, could deliver the same payload as a Lancaster but at a higher speed. A highly advanced bomber for the time, the powerplant was one of the He 177s unique features which were actual four Daimler-Benz DB 605 V12 engines paired to create two DB 610 ‘power systems’. This powerplant configuration coupled with an advanced design wing gave this big bomber an impressive maximum speed of 351mph at just under 20,000ft. Thanks to those ‘niggles’, the He 177 did not enter service until 1942 and the eventual 1,169 were never enough to deliver the same heavy raids which were being suffered by Germany at the time.

There have been a number of books written about the He 177 over the years but this one, published by Swedish-based publisher Leandoer & Co. Förlag appears to be a cut above the rest without turning a page. This high quality book, although this does reflect in the price, has been written by former US Marine and New Yorker Tim Dinan. This complex book is broken down in three major sections; Section I - Pre-war development and production of the He 177, 1934-1939; Section II - Pre-operational development and production of the He 177 and Section III – Operational He 177 development, production and operations, 1943-1943. Each of these sections is subdivided into chapters, Section I containing five, Section II has four and Section III is made up of eight further chapters. A large appendix has a further nine sections covering subjects such as engines, production units and unit commanders – no stone is left unturned! At the rear of the book is a section called ‘Graphic Appendix’ which is filled with colour profiles by Gaëtan Marie. There are 40 profiles in total three of them focussing on a He 177A-3 of KG 100, a He 177A-5 of KG 40 and a He 177A-7 of KG 1.

Because of the amount of sub-division, the book is very easy to dip into if you are looking for a particular aspect of this interesting aircraft. The book is virtually filled from front to back with black and white photography (300+), quite a number of the images being new to me at least. The quality is wide ranging and it is difficult to tell if some images have been ‘stretched’ in an artistic way or whether the publisher/designer just needed to fill the space. Generally though, I can live with this as some of the angles and subject matter is worth this slight irritation. There is also a liberal spread of line drawings, again the quality varies and some have been ‘overdone’ from a digital point of view. Regardless, this is a highly recommended book about an intriguing aircraft which attempted to push technical boundaries at a time of war.

Thanks to Chris Lloyd of Chris Lloyd Sales & Marketing Services for our review copy which is available online and from most high street bookshops.


ISBN: 978-9185657-97-1

Price: £43.99

Pages: 368

Format: hardback – 255mm x 195mm

Publisher: Leandoer & Co. Förlag

Website: www.le-forlag.se