The Lafayette Escadrille was an all-volunteer squadron of Americans who flew for France during World War I. One hundred years later, it is still arguably the best-known fighter squadron ever to take to the skies. In this work the entire history of these gallant volunteers―who named themselves after the Marquis Lafayette, who came to America’s aid during its Revolution―is laid out in both text and pictorial form. In time for the centennial celebration, this work not only tells the fascinating story of the Lafayette Escadrille, it shows it. Already a student of the squadron, the author spent a full year sifting through university and museum archives in the United States and France for photographs and documents relating to the famed unit. To complement these images, he traveled extensively, taking snapshots of existing markers and memorials honoring the men of the Lafayette Escadrille. In France, he specifically sought out locations where the squadron operated and its pilots frequented. In several cases, he was able to match his present-day color photos with contemporary images of the same scene, thus creating a jaw-dropping then-and-now comparison. To add even more color, the author included artwork and aircraft profiles by recognized illustrators, along with numerous full-color photographs of artifacts relating to the squadron's men and airplanes, as they are displayed today in various museums in the United States and France. The result is undoubtedly the finest photographic collection of the Lafayette Escadrille to appear in print. Along with the expert text revealing air-combat experiences as well as life at the front during the Great War, it is a never-before-seen visual history that both World War I aviation aficionados and those with a passing interest in history will appreciate.
The Spitfire turns eighty on March 5, 2016, and the passion for the Royal Air Force's best-loved fighter is running at an all-time high. There are more than fifty Spitfires flying in the world today, and John Dibbs has shot virtually all of them, “on the wing,” in his breathtaking style.
This eye-catching book combines this unique collection of stunning photos with poignant firsthand accounts of flying the airplane in combat from some of the most famous Aces to pilot the Spitfire and from some of the forgotten pilots. Chronicling the history of this most iconic of British aircraft, this book is a must-have purchase for aviation enthusiasts.
When originally conceived, the French SPAD VII and German Albatros D II represented steps away from an emphasis on maneuver in aerial combat in favor of speed and durability – factors that came into play in hit-and-run tactics. At the end of 1916, however, Albatros tried to have the best of both worlds by incorporating the sesquiplane wing of the nimble Nieuport 17 into its D III. The result combined the better downward view and maneuverability of the Nieuport with the power and twin machine guns of the Albatros D II, but at a high price – a disturbing tendency for the single-spar lower wing to fail in a dive.
While Albatros (and the Austrian Oeffag firm, which built the fighter under license) sought to alleviate that weakness with various reinforcing measures, the Germans developed tactics to maximize the D III's strengths and minimize its shortcomings. At the same time, the French worked to improve the SPAD VII with more power and a more reliable cooling system before moving on to the twin-gunned SPAD XIII. While all that was going on, the Albatros D III became a mainstay of the German and Austro-Hungarian air services in frequent encounters with SPAD VIIs flown by French, Belgian, British, Italian and American airmen.
If the Wright brothers’ 1903 flights in Kitty Hawk marked the birth of aviation, World War I can be called its violent adolescencea brief but bloody era that completely changed the way planes were designed, fabricated, and flown. The war forged an industry that would redefine transportation and warfare for future generations. In First to Fly, lauded historian Charles Bracelen Flood tells the story of the men who were at the forefront of that revolution: the daredevil Americans of the Lafayette Escadrille, who flew in French planes, wore French uniforms, and showed the world an American brand of heroism before the United States entered the Great War.
As citizens of a neutral nation from 1914 to early 1917, Americans were prohibited from serving in a foreign army, but many brave young souls soon made their way into European battle zones: as ambulance drivers, nurses, and more dangerously, as soldiers in the French Foreign Legion. It was partly from the ranks of the latter group, and with the sponsorship of an expat American surgeon and a Vanderbilt, that the Lafayette Escadrille was formed in 1916 as the first and only all-American squadron in the French Air Service. Flying rudimentary planes, against one-in-three odds of being killed, these fearless young men gathered reconnaissance and shot down enemy aircraft, participated in the Battle of Verdun and faced off with the Red Baron, dueling across the war-torn skies like modern knights on horseback.
Continue reading “First to Fly: The Story of the Lafayette Escadrille, the American Heroes Who Flew For France in World War I”
The Spitfire was the most iconic and famous British fighter of World War II and was first deployed to Egypt in the spring of 1942 as German success in North Africa reached its zenith. Although few in number, in their early battles with the Luftwaffe the RAF and South African Spitfire squadrons made an immediate impact and in contributed to the successful build up to the Battle of El Alamein and in the subsequent advance over the desert.
Soon afterwards, further Spitfire squadrons, many led by experienced aces form Europe who soon began adding to their scores, were landed in French North Africa. In the bitter fighting that followed, the units wrested air superiority from the enemy in the skies above Tunisia until the final enemy surrender in May 1943. The RAF, RCAF, RAAF and SAAF Spitfire squadrons then played a huge part in covering the Allied landing in Sicily and in supporting the island's subsequent capture.
Continue reading “Spitfire Aces of North Africa and Italy (Aircraft of the Aces)”