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World War I aerial combat went through periods of alternating aerial superiority based on technology leaps. Sopwith Camels, Fokkers, and Spads became famous because they dominated later in the war, but this was an ongoing cycle for years.
In the spring of 1916 the deployment of the RFC's FE 2 – with its rotary engine 'pusher' configuration affording excellent visibility for its pilot and observer, and removing the need for synchronized machine guns – helped wrest aerial dominance from Imperial Germany's Fokker Eindecker monoplanes, and then contributed to retaining it throughout the Somme battles of that fateful summer. However, by autumn German reorganization saw the birth of the Jagdstaffeln (specialised fighter squadrons) and the arrival of the new Albatros D scout, a sleek inline-engined machine built for speed and twin-gun firepower. Thus, for the remainder of 1916 and well into the next year an epic struggle for aerial superiority raged above the horrors of the Somme and Passchendaele battlefields, pitting the FE 2 against the better-armed and faster Albatros scouts that were focused on attacking and destroying their two-seater opponents. In the end the Germans would regain air superiority, and hold it into the following summer with the employment of their new Jagdgeschwader (larger fighter groupings), but the FE 2 remained a tenacious foe that inflicted many casualties – some of whom were Germany's best aces (including 'The Red Baron').
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Italy's Sparviero (Sparrowhawk) saw combat with the Regia Aeronautica in France, Yugoslavia, Greece, North Africa, East Africa and in the Mediterranean versus the Royal Navy. Italy's most successful wartime bomber, the S.79 was also the most produced, with around 1370 built between 1936 and early 1944. Initially developed by Savoia-Marchetti as a transport aircraft it had evolved into a dedicated medium bomber by the time the S.79-I made its combat debut with the Aviazione Legionaria in the Spanish Civil War in 1936. The manufacturer then produced the S.79-II torpedo-bomber, fitted with 1000 hp Piaggio or Fiat radial engines in place of the original 780 hp Alfa Romeos. Entering service in 1939, the S.79-II saw much action over the next four years, particularly in its intended torpedo-bomber role against the Royal Navy in the Mediterranean. Indeed, the Sparviero crews tasked with targeting Allied shipping became national heroes in Italy thanks to their exploits, with men such as Buscaglia, Graziani, Erasi, Faggioni, Di Bella, Aichner and Cimicchi being as revered as fighter aces in other countries. Following Italy's surrender in September 1943, a large number of S.79s continued to see action against the Allies with the pro-German RSI, although they suffered heavy losses. This is the first of two proposed volumes on the S.79, the second book detailing its use as a bomber and transport.
Reviews of Rabaul 1943–44: Reducing Japan’s great island fortress (Air Campaign). Rabaul 1943-44: Reducing Japan's great island fortress (Air Campaign) [Mark Lardas, Mark Postlethwaite] on . *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. In 1942, the massive Japanese naval base and airfield at Rabaul was a fortress standing in the Allies' path to Tokyo. It was impossible to seize Rabaul. Buy online at Aviation Bookstore.
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In 1942, the massive Japanese naval base and airfield at Rabaul was a fortress standing in the Allies' path to Tokyo. It was impossible to seize Rabaul, or starve the 100,000-strong garrison out. Instead the US began an innovative, hard-fought two-year air campaign to draw its teeth, and allow them to bypass the island completely.
The struggle decided more than the fate of Rabaul. If successful, the Allies would demonstrate a new form of warfare, where air power, with a judicious use of naval and land forces, would eliminate the need to occupy a ground objective in order to control it. As it turned out, the Siege of Rabaul proved to be more just than a successful demonstration of air power–it provided the roadmap for the rest of World War II in the Pacific.
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The I-15, I-16 and I-153 fighters were the world's first mass-produced fighters. A total of 17,000 Polikarpov fighters had been manufactured by the time their series production was terminated in 1941. Aircraft of the first series successfully operated in Spain with the Republicans during the civil war (1936-39), in Chinese hands against the Japanese (1937-38), and then with the Soviet Red Air Force again against the Japanese in Mongolia during the Nomonhan Incident (1939). Russian-flown fighter also saw action against the Finns in 1939-40 during the Winter War.
By the time the Wehrmacht launched its surprise attack on the USSR on 22 June 1941, more than 20 Soviet pilots had made ace in Polikarpov fighters during these various conflicts. Still more aces were created in the first months of the German invasion, although losses suffered by the Soviet Air Force's five borderline military district units equipped with some 4000 I-15bis, I-153s, and I-16s were astronomical. Despite being thoroughly outclassed by the Bf 109E/F, the Polikarpov fighters constituted the backbone of Soviet fighter aviation for the first six month's of the war in the east. Many future aces started their combat careers in Polikarpov fighters, and newly-winged pilots continued to train on the I-15 UTI-4 two-seater until 1944. I-153s and I-16s actively participated in campaigns throughout 1942 and, in certain sectors of the frontline, into 1943. Amazingly, a handful of Polikarpov fighters remained in service through to 1945.
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Having established its SPAD VII as the most effective French fighter of 1916, the Societé Pour l'Aviation at ses Dérivés strove to improve the model with a 220hp Hispano Suiza 8B engine and two machine guns. Despite initial teething troubles with the new engine, by mid-1918 the SPAD XIII had taken its place as the principal fighter of both France and the US. Meanwhile, the German quest for a successor for their structurally flawed Albatros D V finally bore fruit with the Fokker D VII. Entering combat in May 1918, this plane earned a reputation as the most formidable fighter of the war, yet the SPAD XIII's greater speed, especially in a dive, and its outstanding durability, proved a fearsome rival. This is the gripping story of two of the best fighters produced in World War I – the SPAD XIII and the Fokker D VII – as they dueled in the skies above the trenches in the closing months of the war. Never before published artwork, including fascinating cockpit illustrations, reveal several dramatic clashes between the two foes while diary entries and first-hand accounts from the pilots bring this classic World War I duel to life with intimate detail.