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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.
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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