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Book Review
Naval Aces of World War 1, Part 1
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Naval Aces of World War 1, Part 1
Series: Aircraft of the Aces * 97
96 Pages
Author: Jon Guttman
Illustrator: Harry Dempsey
$22.95, 13.99 GBP
ISBN 978-1-84908-345-4

The Great War in the air produced many exceptional personalities. It always seemed to me that Great Britain’s Royal Naval Air Service pilots achieved acclaim out of proportion to their numbers. Perhaps it was their mounts, Sopwith scouts that outperformed the Royal Flying Corps fighters. While the RFC struggled with the ‘Fokker Scourge’ the RNAS turned the tables on the Eindekkers. While German Albatrosen were bloodying the RFC in the April skies of Flanders, Naval pilots were inflicting payback.

One of the most famous aircraft of the war was the triplane, but not the one we’re most familiar with. The famous Fokker Triplane was designed in the German panic following the introduction of the Sopwith Triplane! Despite lacking the firepower of the German scouts the Babys, Sopwith 1½ Strutters, Pups, and Triplanes tended to outperform their opponents, holding the line until the dominating Camel arrived on the scene.

In these aircraft Naval pilots like Raymond Collishaw (and his legendary ‘Black Flight’), J S T Fall, W L Jordan, and Roy Brown flew into legend. RNAS pilots are some of the most successful pilots of Britain’s Commonwealth. Several rose into the air marshal ranks before and during the Second World War.

Not all RNAS pilots fought the fight in the naval squadrons. The Seaplane Defense Force (SDF) was formed in June 1917 to escort Allied seaplanes and counter Axis aircraft. Aces were even created amongst bomber crews, mainly ‘Naval 5’.

Finally, while British air unit decorations of the war were notoriously bland, RNAS pilots boasted livery that rivaled the flying circuses. Even after the RNAS was amalgamated into the RAF. Many naval pilots continued the road to acedom in that service.

Author Jon Guttman is well versed in WW1 air warfare, having written several books on the subject. Mr. Guttman explains the organization, development, employment, personalities, and effectiveness of RNAS fighter pilots. The text is a combination of narrative, journal entries, personal accounts, and combat reports. If you seek stick and rudder cockpit-view dogfight description, there are not many.

You will find familiar names in the text; the stories can be somewhat personal. Many downed pilots were positively identified through capture, and many are identified through records. Both victor and vanquished are frequently named, while many other accounts state, ...probably the victim of Ltn. Schmitt..., or ...most likely shot down Uffz. Hienz.... Included is an account of a capture pilot treated to celebrity status in his victor's mess.

Naval Aces of World War 1 is presented to you through 96 pages in seven chapters, and a three-part appendices:

1. Senior Service Takes Wing
2. Sensible Sopwiths
3. The Triplane Trend
4. Focus On Flanders
5. Camels Versus All Comers
6. Seaplanes Defence and Bomber Aces
7. Attack And Amalgamation
8. Appendices
• Colour Plates Commentary
• Bibliography
• Index

Supporting the work are two tables: RNAS Aces, RNAS Pilots Who Achieved Acedom in RAF Units, and RNAS Observers Who Achieved Acedom in RAF units. These detail the pilot, units served in, RNAS kills, kills in the RAF, and total kills.

Photographs and Illustrations
Some 100 black and white photographs support of this work. Obviously many of the 93-plus-year-old photos are of marginal quality, yet many are studio quality. Whether you are a fan of the aircraft or of the pilots, you will have many photos to enjoy.

There are no maps and except for the dramatic cover art by Osprey artist Mike Postlethwaite, none of Osprey’s dramatic action illustrations. What the book does include are 29 color profiles and 7 planforms of select subjects by the prolific Osprey artist Harry Dempsey.

I greatly enjoyed this book; Collishaw is one of my favorite WW1 pilots and Sopwith Triplanes are one of my favorite WW1 aircraft. Authoritative research and good presentation and an excellent selection of profiles brings this story of the Great War in the air to life. I highly recommend this book.

NOTE: Part 2 of this subject will include the naval aces of the other WW1 combatants. I can't wait!

Please remember, when contacting manufacturers and sellers, to mention you saw this book here—on Aeroscale.
Highs: Authoritatively researched and presented. An excellent selection of profiles and sharp photographs.
Lows: Some of the photographs are blurry quality.
Verdict: Students of naval pilots and Sopwiths in particular, and WWI air combat in general should be thrilled by this book.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: Other
  Mfg. ID: ISBN 978-1-84908-345-4
  Suggested Retail: $22.95, £13.99
  Related Link: Royal Naval Air Service Pilot BOOK
  PUBLISHED: Aug 13, 2011
  NATIONALITY: United Kingdom

Our Thanks to Osprey Publishing!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright ©2021 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.


A good solid review and a very interesting subject. I look forward to getting a copy.
AUG 13, 2011 - 05:55 AM

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