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Book Review
Sopwith Camel & Fokker Dr.I
Western Front 1917 - 18
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by: Stephen T. Lawson [ JACKFLASH ]

Author: Jon Guttman
Illustrators: Jim Laurier, Harry Dempsey
Paperback; March 2008; 80 pages; ISBN: 9781846032936

“Amid the continuous struggle for aerial superiority during World War I, two aircraft types were at the forefront. Both rotary engined fighters, the Sopwith Camel and the Fokker Dr I triplane were relatively slow for their time, but were regarded as the most manoeuvrable machines produced during the conflict, and the classic pair for a tight, evenly matched dogfight at close quarters. In this book Jon Guttman examines the fascinating story of the design and development of these deadly foes. First-hand accounts and innovative cockpit-view artwork give a thrilling insight into the pilots' experiences during the world's first aerial duels and helps explain their successes and failures.”

There were two types of popular power plants at this moment in history, rotary engines and inline engines. The power to weight ration made this distinction possible. Rotaries were employed for lower altitude operations (1000 – 12,000 ft). Due to the development of the Sopwith Triplane the Germans sought to create their own version of this highly manoeuvrable aircraft. The result was the Fokker Dr.I. At the same time the Sopwith Company had already released their new fighter the F.1 with its twin Vickers machine guns (the first British machine to have this as standard armament). Author Jon Guttman good fellow that he is was given the task of writing this book and called on many of his close historical compatriots to bring us some truly fine images and text.

Chronology of development
Design and Development
The Strategic Situation a need for new fighters, Flanders in the Summer of 1917
Technical Specifications
The Combatants RNAS, RFC, RAF, Luftstreitskräfte
Statistics and analysis
Aftermath swift eclipse, swift immortality
Further Reading

The process of writing a book seems straightforward enough. Unfortunately in this case the editing process tends to damage this manuscript more than help. The consistent errors I see in this book results from editors that have no understanding of the parlance in describing the subject matter. Multiple aircraft is not to be described as Fok. Dr.Is. Adding the suffix “s” to aircraft nomenclatures is inappropriate. To be correct adding words like “types” or “airframes” is correct. Often the single designation such as Sopwith F.1 implies the type and can be left to stand alone.

There is no designation such as "Sopwith F.1s" but the editor of this book has tried to make it so. Trying to note multiples with the suffix “s” can lead neophytes to believe that there is a subtype of Camel or other aircraft with the “s” designation. Also adding the suffix -’s to write “Sopwith F.1’s” denotes a possessive not a plural. The most popular form of editing is the “Chicago Tribune form”. This is taught in colleges & universities everywhere these days. The form tends to encourage these misnomers when it comes to types designations. While there are some other minor typographical errors the reader should have little trouble gleaning good information from this reference.

When contacting manufacturers and publishers please mention you saw this review at AEROSCALE
Highs: Good basic information.
Lows: improper editing has caused a problem. Some plan view drawings would improve this book's value.
Verdict: A good source of info. Some unique photo images.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: Dual #07
  Suggested Retail: $17.95
  Related Link: website
  PUBLISHED: May 23, 2013
  NATIONALITY: United Kingdom

About Stephen T. Lawson (JackFlash)

I was building Off topic jet age kits at the age of 7. I remember building my first WWI kit way back in 1964-5 at the age of 8-9. Hundreds of 1/72 scale Revell and Airfix kits later my eyes started to change and I wanted to do more detail. With the advent of DML / Dragon and Eduard I sold off my ...

Copyright ©2021 text by Stephen T. Lawson [ JACKFLASH ]. 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.


Stephen, You lucky guy! So what is the conclusion of the author as to how well these dogfighters matched up? I'll have to acquire my own copy and find out.
MAY 29, 2013 - 01:16 PM
Greetings Fred. The conclusions Mr. Guttman draws is mostly from actual accounts of British pilots and the statistics of known Dr.I victories during the German Kaiserschlacht Offensive "Operation Michael". These of course found in the Combat and Statistics. . . chapters. The Dual series of books is one of the few publications that actually tries to draw these conclusions. The truth is the Camel killed a fair amount of British pilots too. The tricky beast as it was known needed a capable pilot. The Dr.I had to be flown at all times. And when the Dr.I had both guns triggered in flight it could actually stall the aircraft in flight. They both took decent pilots to operate. 32 Sopwith F.I aircraft fell to German Dr.I pilots. 45 Dr.I aircraft aircraft fell to British Camel pilots. Note! These included "forced to land" or "out of control" accounts. My two cents: The one advantage the Dr.I had was that the premier Fighter wing JG I & some of its components (Jasta 4, 6 & 11), had excellent pilots gleaned from other Jastas by its commander Rittmeister Manfred von Richthofen. His operational dicta was designed for success. It was then followed by JG II Jasta (12, 13, 15 & 19) had Hauptmann Adolph Tutscek another well known leader and finally JG III with JASTA (2, 26, 27, 36) commanded Hauptmann Bruno Loerzer. All had the Fokker Dr.I to one extent or another with a solid leadership that co-ordinated their efforts. The Germans focused on 2 seters. They seemed to do more with less. 320 Dr.I airframes manufactured. The British had some great leadership in Major officers in individual units. Yet fighter wing operations seemed to be lead by desk bound Colonels. They seemed to do less with more. 5,490 Sopwith Camel airframes manufactured.
MAY 30, 2013 - 01:07 PM
Stephen, Thanks for it summary. I recall that more Camel pilots were KIFA (Killed in Flying Accidents) than combat. Osprey's Air Vanguard book on the Camel has some pilot quotes about what a beast it was; Dr.I was also a handful but I don't recall it having such a operational accident rate. Vanguard book also relates that during Op. Michael that Camel pilots said they could out-turn the Dr.I, while Dr.I pilots reported they could out-turn the Camel! I've gleaned that both aircraft are steeped in mystique, both capable fighters, yet both were operationally eclipsed quicker than their legends.
MAY 31, 2013 - 10:55 AM
That is why I stay with first generation accounts.
MAY 31, 2013 - 11:05 AM

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