As part of Mushroom's Orange Series of detailed aircraft references, author José Fernandez has written a concise but highly informative overview of Potez's extended family of twin-engined fighters, light bombers and reconnaissance machines. The book is soft-bound in A-5 format, which allows it to fit neatly beside the average work area and comprises 176 pages of text, scale plans, B&W (plus one colour) photos and colour profiles.
The text covers the background and development of the 63 family, including the numerous offshoots and foreign versions. Most sections are quite brief, but have plenty of useful information about the aircraft and its service history. For me the most interesting chapter is an eye-witness account of Night Fighter Squadron 1/13 by Sgt/Chef Post from the period immediately before the declaration of war, through to the fall of France. The general state of unpreparedness is quite shocking to the modern reader, and one can't help but sympathise with the pilots as reinforcements trickle in piecemeal and they attempt to provide some semblance of defence for their country in primitive conditions with machines that weren't even fully armed before June 1940! The language is translated a little too literally from the original French, resulting in some idiosyncratic phrases at times, but the chapter makes fascinating, if inevitably somewhat depressing reading. The situation facing the squadron's crews is well illustrated in the chaos generated by the German onslaught:
"The Potez 631 was too slow for a fighter, badly armed for assault, badly equipped for reconnaissance. Does that matter? It was badly needed. It will thus perform all these missions... Soon the advance of the Panzerdivisionen, breaking through the fortified lines in several places, creating such a great danger that all means had to be used to stop them. The assault aviation units had been virtually annihilated during the previous days, and cannot fly anymore. The night fighter units will replace them!"
The book is profusely illustrated with hundreds of photos, most of which I've never seen before. These illustrate the aircraft both under construction and in service. Particularly useful for modellers are the equivalent of "walkaround" sections for the Potez 630-637 and Potez 63-11, where the author has assembled a comprehensive selection of detailed period photos and technical illustrations covering each area of the aircraft, both inside and out.
Interspersed throughout the text are a series of excellent 1/72 scale side and front drawings of the various versions, accompanied by a pull-out page of plan views. The back of the plans is filled with a poster-sized cutaway illustration of the Potez 63-11. I must admit that I'd have preferred all the scale drawings to be on the pull-out sheet to make scanning and enlarging easier, but their inclusion is a real boon to modellers of the MPM kits in 1/72 and 1/48 scale.
Lastly, there's the colour profiles, with the most comprehensive selection of colour schemes for the Potez 63 family you could want, from spectacular part-natural metal 630s, through day- and night-fighting 631s during the Battle of France, a huge selection of 63-11s, Vichy machines, captured aircraft, export versions - no-one could fairly claim to be lost for inspiration.
Like the rest of the series I've read, Mushroom Books' volume on the Potez 63 family is excellent - very good value, highly readable and packed with info. It's bound to be snapped up by all enthusiasts of French aviation and for anyone looking to add detail to the MPM kits it's almost essential reading.
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.
Most modellers' bookshelves aren't exactly bowing under the weight of English language references for Armée de l'Air aircraft, so Mushroom Books' highly informative volume on the Potez 63 family is especially welcome.
About Rowan Baylis (Merlin) FROM: NO REGIONAL SELECTED, UNITED KINGDOM
I've been modelling for about 40 years, on and off. While I'm happy to build anything, my interests lie primarily in 1/48 scale aircraft. I mostly concentrate on WW2 subjects, although I'm also interested in WW1, Golden Age aviation and the early Jet Age - and have even been known to build the occas...