Great War Fighter Aces 1916-1918


...a new Images of War title from Pen and Sword


Title: Great War Fighter Aces 1916-1918

Author: Norman Franks

Publisher: Pen and Sword Books

ISBN: 978-1-47386-126-8

There is no let up to new books in the Images of War series and this one goes back again to the topic of WW1.  With 123 pages to this particular title, it has a good mixture of photos and text sections.  With bombers and observation aircraft being increasingly used, the fighter came into it's own, for both attack and defence.  This one is split into 5 chapters, each with an introductory text section to give the background detail and then associated photos.  The chapters are The War becomes More Serious: Arras and Bloody April: New Aeroplanes, New Tactics: The Winter of 1917-18: and finally, 1918. 

This takes the story of following the end of the Battle of the Somme at the end of 1916, a time when the allied pilots, both British and French, were successfully taking the war to the Germans.  New aircraft types were coming into service, with the replacement of the old 'pusher' designs helped by the introduction of interrupter gear that allowed machine guns to fire through the arc of a spinning propeller. In their turn, the Germans also changed their organisation with the formation of Jagdstaffeln to group their fighter units, best known as 'Jastas'.  Each chapter is started with a few pages of background text which not only give the background, but also include stories of what happened to the various pilots, many of whom were now becoming public personalities thanks to stories in the press.  There are many names listed, some of which will be more familiar than others.  It does include the likes of Albert Ball and Edward Mannock, the French Georges Guynemer as well as Germans such as Ernst Udet, Oswald Boelke and of course Manfred von Richtofhofen among others.  In the later stages of the war they were joined by American pilots, such as Eddie Rickenbacker.  The photos that accompany each chapter include many portraits of the aces but also the wide variety of aircraft types that were flown by each of the different air forces involved.  For both WW1 historians and modellers, there are plenty of fine references in here, with detail of markings, uniforms, medals and so on.  Another fine addition to the Images of War series from author Norman Franks which follows on from his earlier title on the period 1914-1916.