This book lifts the curtain on a largely unknown or forgotten World War II activity involving highly educated German atmospheric scientists and pilots in the so-called Wetter-Erkundungs Staffeln (Wekusta – Meteorological Reconnaissance Squadrons). The two authors – one, Franz Selinger, a well-known German writer and aerospace engineer, the other, John Kington, a highly competent British writer and meteorologist – are uniquely qualified to describe this important story as seen from both sides of the warring countries. In doing so they make a remarkable contribution to the history of aviation and meteorology, but also – and that is perhaps their main concern – to the sacrifices and accomplishments of the young scientists and pilots involved in these daring and dangerous missions.
At the height of the war the Wekustas included about a dozen individual squadrons, totaling several hundred aircraft and over 1,000 flight crews. Encounters with enemy aircraft were frequent and of an erratic nature, ranging from generous life-saving efforts to attacks on downed crew members. After the secret ‘Zenit’ code of the German aircraft reports was broken by British intelligence, the RAF sometimes let German weather aircraft pass without attack because their radio messages were considered more valuable than shooting down the reporting aircraft.
The authors have gone to the admirable effort to list almost 1,000 names of flight crew members and their assignments. In this way they honor their memory, their courage, and their contributions to atmospheric sciences.
The book fills a long-existing gap in the history of atmospheric science and military aviation.
Hardcover, 256 pages, 8.5″x11″, aircraft color profiles, b/w and color photos