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Book Review
Groupe de Combat 12

by: Rowan Baylis [ MERLIN ]

The Groupe traces back its history to 1916, when numbers of Escadrilles de Chasse were gathered together temporarily to win local air superiority in the Verdun and Somme campaigns. The success of these formations led to the decision to form permanent Groupes de Combat. Among the first was GC12, comprising Escadrilles N3, N26, N73 and N103. Adopting variations of N3's famous stork emblem, GC12 went on to include more aces and score more victories than any other French Unit.

Soft back; 128 pages.

The book is divided into 8 chapters and takes the form of a war-diary. The detail throughout is extraordinary, with an almost day-to-day account of the unit's exploits with material drawn from the official history and personal memoirs and letters.

The picture content is superb, with over 100 B&W photos of the men and their machines. These capture lots of detail for modellers with clear views of the aircraft and period flying-clothing, while the airfield scenes will provide plenty of inspiration for dioramas.

The centre of the book contains a superb set of 48 colour illustrations by Harry Dempsey - each backed up by detailed notes. The quality is excellent and some of the colour schemes are bound to create a few new WW1 converts! (Note: the captions for planforms #35 and #37 seem to be reversed.)

Among the famous characters featured are Guynemer and Fonk, and the text soon makes clear their very different approach to the grim task of flying and fighting for their lives. Of course, GC12 was also famous for the number of foreign volunteers - particularly American - who joined its ranks. Their tale is both inspiring and moving; some became famous aces, while others were lost within days of joining their units. The book is crammed with anecdotes - some funny, some tragic - but all providing a wonderful insight into the lives of WW1 pilots.

This is an excellent book - the text is thoroughly readable and the combination of unit diary and personal accounts works superbly. The addition of so many photos and a really great set of colour profiles makes this a real winner. Thoroughly recommended.

Contact details

Osprey Direct
PO Box 140
Northants, NN8 2FA
United Kingdom

(01933) 443 863

Thank you to Osprey Publishing for kindly supplying the review sample.

Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on ARMORAMA
No 18 in Osprey's Aviation Elite Units series is the history of one of the most famous fighter formations of WW1 - Groupe de Combat 12 “Les Cigognes”. Jon Guttman has compiled a fascinating account of the most successful unit of France's Aviation Militaire.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: Other
  Mfg. ID: 1841767530
  Suggested Retail: £13.99
  PUBLISHED: Jan 17, 2005

About Rowan Baylis (Merlin)

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...

Copyright ©2021 text by Rowan Baylis [ MERLIN ]. 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.


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