John A. Kington & Franz Selinger
Published 2007, Flight Recorder Publications, Ottringham, U.K.
ISBN10: 0 9545605 8 2
ISBN-13/EAN: 978 0 9545605 8 4
Weather is one of the main factors of human life and in warfare it must also be considered highly relevant. Regular and continuous meteorological observations play a vital role in the wartime operations of all armed forces.
Anticipating a more or less complete break down of the International Meteorological Observation network in the event of war, the German Meteorological Service developed methods of long-range meteorological reconnaissance by aircraft from 1937. This was realised by an extensive combined military-scientific organisation, termed Wettererkundungs-Staffeln (Wekusta), Meteorological Reconnaissance Squadrons. These units eventually operated over all theatres of the conflict but their activities have remained largely unknown or forgotten.
This book brings to light the development, organisation and operations of this branch of the Luftwaffe that involved highly educated German atmospheric scientists and pilots. The authors, John A. Kington, a highly regarded British meteorologist and author, and Franz Selinger, a well-known German writer and aerospace engineer, have compiled this remarkable story as seen from both sides of the warring countries. As well as contributing to the history of aviation and meteorology, this account also refers to the sacrifices and accomplishments of young scientists, pilots and aircrew involved in these daring and dangerous missions.
Professor Dr Joachim P. Kuettner, former NASA Director and Member of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, himself once a wartime German test pilot, acknowledged the efforts of both authors who have accomplished the huge task of documenting the records of up to twelve individual squadrons, totalling several hundred aircraft and over a thousand aircrew. The authors have listed more than 1,000 names of flight crew members and their assignments. They honour their memory, their courage, and their contributions to atmospheric science.
Like the complementary book, Even The Birds Were Walking: The Story of Wartime Meteorological Reconnaissance, by John A. Kington and Peter G. Rackliff (Tempus Publishing, Stroud, 2000), the present volume fills a long-existing gap in the history of atmospheric science and military aviation. It also illustrates how present meteorology and civil aviation have benefited by the wartime achievements made by both sides in the field of meteorological reconnaissance.
Above all, it makes fascinating reading.
John A. Kington
Climatic Research Unit
School of Environmental Sciences
University of East Anglia
Norwich NR4 7TJ