Air Aces of the Austro-Hungarian Empire


Dr. Martin O'Conner


Flying Machines Press, 1994


Scott Van Aken


340 pages, hardbound, many color profiles


Initially published in 1986 and republished by Flying Machines Press in 1994, this book has everything you ever wanted to know about the men who flew with the Austro-Hungarian flying service during WW1.

Despite a molasses-like procurement and supply system, the men who flew for the Empire as well as those who maintained their aircraft managed superb feats with few aircraft. During the entire four years, the Empire produced a mere 5,000 aircraft and 4,000 engines. Italy, who entered the war a year later than Austria-Hungary produced 40,000 aircraft and 38,000 engines!

In fact, the maximum number of aircraft in service at any one time was 550, and this spread out over the Balkan, Russian and Italian Fronts. The fact that a cohesive fighting force was possible in a country that spoke 14 different languages speaks for the abilities of the men in the field.

Just to give you some facts, the top scoring ace, Godwin Brumowski had a total of 35 victories. Only 49 pilots earned ace status during the war, though most of them managed to survive the war. 

Because of the small number of aces, Martin O'Connor is able to go into some depth on each man. There are a surprising number of photographs of the planes of the aces as well as a rather comprehensive number of color profiles of the various aircraft flown at the time.

In addition to the ace's biographies and color aircraft views, there are six appendices giving an overview of the Austro-Hungarian Army Air Service, the aircraft serial number system, those aircraft flown by the aces, a list of victories and maps of the war fronts over which they flew.

While I have not been able to read the entire book so far, I have gone through much of it and find it to be quite readable. Some of the listings are rather long and tedious, like the listing of each aircraft downed by each ace, but are part of a very comprehensive reference. 

If you have any interest in the First World War in the air and those 'string and tissue' types of aircraft, then this is the book for you.  It is a wealth of information and while not inexpensive, is probably the last word on the subject.

Review copy courtesy of me and my wallet!! If any of you manufacturers or shop owners want to send products for review and building, please contact me.