Kings of the Air, French Aces and Airmen of the Great War

B2237

French fighter pilots of WWI are not well-known, even in French language publications, relative to British and German pilots. In English language publications they are notably missing, There is no obvious reason for this. They fought with the same bravery, were at least as much innovators in a new form of warfare, and they flew French designed and constructed machines that were equal to British and German machines. The Rhone rotary engine was widely used by aircraft manufacturers outside France who were attempting to produce nimble and reliable war-winning combat aircraft. The author has done a fine job of addressing this strange deficiency with a book that reviews the contribution of French Aces during WWI, This is a vivid account of the leading French Aces and is a very valuable addition to the information on the first aerial war in history. Excellent.

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NAME: Kings of the Air, French Aces and Airmen of the Great War
DATE: 150915
FILE: R2237
AUTHOR: Ian Sumner
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: hard back
PAGES: 238
PRICE: £25.00
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: The Great War, WWI, World War One, First World War, Flanders, Western Front, air war, fighters, fighter pilots, scouts, machine guns, SPAD, Nieuport, Morane, Morane-Saulnier, SPA37, Farman
ISBN: 1-78346-338-4
IMAGE: B2237.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/hzgeuzk
LINKS:
DESCRIPTION: French fighter pilots of WWI are not well-known, even in French language publications, relative to British and German pilots. In English language publications they are notably missing, There is no obvious reason for this. They fought with the same bravery, were at least as much innovators in a new form of warfare, and they flew French designed and constructed machines that were equal to British and German machines. The Rhone rotary engine was widely used by aircraft manufacturers outside France who were attempting to produce nimble and reliable war-winning combat aircraft. The author has done a fine job of addressing this strange deficiency with a book that reviews the contribution of French Aces during WWI, This is a vivid account of the leading French Aces and is a very valuable addition to the information on the first aerial war in history. Excellent.

French fighter pilots took the same risks and flew with courage and dash equal to German and British pilots. At the beginning of WWI, France could claim to be a leading aircraft producer, if not THE leading aircraft producer. The Germans and British were initially interested in using aircraft for reconnaissance and photography, with the notable exceptions of their naval aviators. The German Navy had put a great investment into the design and development of rigid airships and had considered from an early date that the great airships built by Zeppelin were ideally suited to following a fleet at sea and terror bombing cities. The Royal Navy had fought a hard battle with politicians to keep control of naval aviation and before the start of WWI had produced detailed assessments of how aircraft could operate at sea, and against land targets. Where the British Army’s Royal Flying Corps was mounted on frail unarmed aircraft produced by the state aircraft factory and largely obsolescent before they entered service, the Royal Naval Air Service was equipped with the products of commercial aircraft manufacturers. Using particularly manufacturers who had supplied naval vessels and equipment for some time, and understood the RN, the RNAS had a number of excellent early designs that were weapon systems able to drop bombs, torpedoes and depth bombs with reliability and accuracy. As the war progressed the RFC began to acquire the same types of machine produced for the RNAS and, eventually, the state aircraft factory produced an effective fighter in the SE5A.

The French had begun to arm their scouts. Two seat aircraft usually carried a flexible machine gun operated by the observer, but single seat scouts were also equipped with machine guns in fixed mounts. An early French Ace, Roland Garros, had metal deflectors fitted to his propeller so that his single fixed machine gun could fire through the propeller arc. This eventually resulted in him losing a propeller as a result of fractures caused by the repetitive shocks of bullets striking the deflector plates. The Germans and British watched his success and developed interrupter gear that paused the machine gun every time a propeller blade was about to pass across the gun barrel. The French were quick to adopt the same technology and this meant that all single seat pilots were equipped with similar technology that enabled them to aim the gun by aiming the aircraft. That led to the development of tactics for shaking off an enemy who was attacking, and getting into a position where the enemy could be shot down, The pace of development of technology and tactics was rapid and at any one point, one of the air forces in action in Europe was enjoying a brief period of advantage.

As the French were in hot competition, developing aircraft and weapons, and their pilots were developing tactics to keep at least on equal terms with the Germans, it could have been expected that the nations allied on either side would know the French Aces and that the French people would treat them with the same celebrity that was accorded to German and British Aces. It could also be expected that France would remain at the forefront of aviation development. It is therefore something of a mystery to find the French aircraft industry falling behind the British and Americans after 1918.

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