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Tethered balloons reached their zenith as a means of providing a stationary observation platform above the battlefield during World War I. It took a special breed of daredevil to take on such odds deep in enemy lines in order to destroy a balloon, with Balloon specialists such as Willy Coppens, Pierre Bourjade and Michel Coiffard rising to the challenge. This book covers the story of these 'balloon busters' from both sides in World War 1 through a mix of first-hand accounts and expert analysis, which compares tactics, theatres of operation, aircraft types and the overall odds for success.
The Nieuport 11 boasts an important place in the technology race against German aircraft in World War I aerial warfare. It eventually led Nieuport to produce the first plane flown in large numbers in aerial combat by the United States.The appearance in July 1915 of Germany's Fokker E I, armed with interrupter gear that allowed its machine gun to fire forward without striking the propeller, heralded a reign of terror over the Western Front that the Allies called the "Fokker Scourge". Among several alternative means for countering the Fokkers, until the Allies introduced practical synchronisation mechanisms of their own, was the French Nieuport - 11 a single-seat version of the Nieuport 10 sesquiplane ("one-and-a-half wing") mounting a Lewis machine gun above the upper wing, firing over the airscrew. Nicknamed the Bébé because of its comparatively small size, the Nieuport 11 was, though less robust than true biplanes, superior in structure and overall performance to the German monoplane. During 1916 the Nieuport 11, and its more powerful but more difficult to control stablemate, the Nieuport 16, battled a succession of improved Fokkers, the E II, E III and E IV, until the Germans abandoned the monoplane in favour of a new and deadly generation of biplane fighters. Even so, the Bébé's early successes also influenced the Germans to adopt sesquiplane designs of their own - most notably the Albatros D III and D V - while Nieuport also held on to the sesquiplane format longer than it should have. Fully illustrated with specially commissioned full-colour artwork, this is the absorbing story of the clash between these two innovative fighters at the height of World War I.
This book profiles a wide variety of British, French, German, Austro-Hungarian and American aircraft, ranging from frontline stalwarts like the RE 8 and AR 1 to the swift Salmson 2A2 and the compact, fighter-like Halberstadt CL II.Oft-overshadowed by the fighters that either protected or threatened them, two-seater reconnaissance aircraft performed the oldest and most strategically vital aerial task of World War 1 - a task that required them to return with the intelligence they gathered at all costs. Bomber sorties were equally important and dangerous, and the very nature of both types of mission required going in harm's way. A surprising number of British, French and German two-seater teams managed to attain or exceed the five victories needed to achieve the acedom popularly associated with their single-seat nemeses, and in this book they receive their long-overdue recognition. Many high-scoring single-seat fighter aces also began their careers in two-seaters, particularly in the early stages of the conflict, and their exploits as either pilots or observers are detailed here too.
A British icon of World War I aerial combat, just as the Supermarine Spitfire is for World War II, the Sopwith Camel might more aptly be compared to the equally iconic (if one is Japanese) Mitsubishi A6M2 Zero. A superb dogfighter in the hands of pilots who mastered its vicious idiosyncrasies, the Camel also packed a considerable punch for its day as the first British fighter with twin machine guns. It has been credited with the most aerial victories of any fighter type of the conflict, but that statistic is somewhat misleading - and further muddied by the heavy losses Camel units suffered in 1918, as higher performance types began to eclipse the plane. Nevertheless, Camels appeared on several battlefronts to the end of the war and beyond - during the Russian Civil War, for example - and performed remarkably well in a variety of other roles, including as a ground strafer, night fighter, night intruder, and carrier-based fighter.
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