Lionel Morris and the Red Baron, Air War On The Somme

This is an absorbing account of air war over the Somme battlefield and the disadvantages suffered by the RFC. This book provides a rediscovered story 100 years on – Highly Recommended.

http://reviews.firetrench.com

http://adn.firetrench.com

http://bgn.firetrench.com

http://nthn.firetrench.com

http://ftnews.firetrench.com

NAME: Lionel Morris and the Red Baron, Air War On The Somme
FILE: R2988
AUTHOR: Jill Bush
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: hard back
PRICE: £25.00
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: First World War, World War I, World War 1, WWI, WW1, The Great 
War, RFC, Battle of the Somme, air war, air warfare, fighter aircraft, Albatross, FE2b, 
RNAS, Sopwith Pup, power balance, technology, aircraft design, Government 
Aircraft Factory

ISBN: 1-52674-222-5

IMAGE: B2988.jpg
BUYNOW: tinyurl.com/yy76urzc
LINKS: 
DESCRIPTION: This is an absorbing account of air war over the Somme battlefield 
and the disadvantages suffered by the RFC. This book provides a rediscovered 
story 100 years on –    Highly Recommended.

This book covers the struggle of the RFC to rectify shortcomings not of its making, 
the emergence of the Red Baron legend and the development of tactics and strategies 
as air warfare matured. It is an example of how politicians more frequently impede 
than enable, a lesson still not fully learned 100 years on.

Lionel Morris was fairly typical of RFC pilots in 1916. Young, under trained and 
mounted on unsatisfactory aircraft that stacked the odds in Germany's favour. The 
RFC effectively grew out of the Army's balloon corps that employed captive balloons 
for gunnery spotting during the second half of the 19th Century. The Government 
Factory at Farnborough was charged with construction and maintenance of balloons 
and evolved into the Government Aircraft Factory, building some singularly 
unsuitable aircraft for air warfare but adequate to provide improved scouting and 
gunnery spotting. The RFC was condemned to acquiring its mounts from the GAF 
and was badly let down as air warefare, and aircraft technology, charged ahead, 
leaving the GAF in its dust trail.

In contrast, the Royal Navy had established its own flying school in 1911 and its 
early graduates were tasked with writing manuals and identifying how aircraft could 
help the RN fulfil its duties. The RN fought tooth and nail to regain control of naval 
aviation, buying its own aircraft and insisting that a good percentage of the pilots 
flying them were naval officers. This was rewarded by the return of control a month 
before the start of WWI and the RN celebrated by dropping the first torpedo to be 
launched successfully from an aircraft in flight. The 'in flight' aspect is relevant 
because during the Gallipoli Campaign one RNAS float plane pilot realized he did 
not have time to take off and circle round to attack a Turkish warship, but instead 
taxied at full speed towards it, sinking it with a well aimed torpedo.

The result was that the RNAS went to war with real air weapons systems using 
aircraft built by commercial contractors and equipped with bombs, guns, depth 
bombs and rockets. The RFC had to go to war with disappointing aircraft from the 
GAF such as the BE2 and FE2 that were no match for the Fokker fighters and the 
Albatross which, like RNAS machines used more advanced technology and were 
equipped with integrated machine guns, allowing them to dance around the ungainly 
GAF products and pick them off in comfort.

One of the consequences of the actions described in this book, two significant 
changes were made. A very large ammunition boot impacted the arse of the GAF and 
the RFC were permitted to buy the battle-winning Sopwith designs that had been 
serving the RNAS so well. That saw the GAF producing the dramatically improved 
designs and RFC pilots beginning to develop an edge over the German fighters. 
There will always be argument over whether the Sopwith Camel was the finest 
British fighter of WWI or whether it was the GAF SE5a. Both were excellent 
fighters with different strengths and weaknesses, the Camel continuing with the 
proven rotary engine in what today might be described as a dynamically unstable 
design that lacked the computer that helps a modern pilot defy aerodynamics by 
letting the computer ensure that the aircraft follows the pilot's intent without crashing. 
The SE5a employed an inline engine that was rugged and reliable in a very stable 
gun platform.