Casemate's German Fighter Aircraft in WWI

Author/Artists: Mark Wilkins




$37.95 MSRP from Casemate


Scott Van Aken

Notes: 192 pages,  hardcover, over 140 photos and illustrations. 8x 10 inches.
ISBN: 978-1-61200-6192

Military aviation really came to the forefront during World War I. What started out with using aircraft for strictly reconnaissance turned into the development of aircraft whose sole purpose was to shoot down those recce planes. Eventually fighters or pursuit planes were used to accompany those reconnaissance planes and we get the scenario of fighter planes attacking other fighter planes and the dogfight is born.

As with all weapons used during war time, there was a fairly fast  back and forth when it came to development. While one side would have the advantage, that was fairly short lived as the other side would not only catch up but surpass their adversary.

This book delves into the development of fighter aircraft used by the Germans. It is not simply a listing a base history, but a fairly in-depth look at how each of the various aviation companies developed and built their planes. There were some fairly striking differences in methods of construction from company to company. For instance, Fokker pretty well stuck with frame and canvas fuselage and wing covering for all of its designs. they were also one of the last to get away from wing warping to the use of proper ailerons. Albatross, was a fairly earlier developer of formed plywood for the fuselages of its aircraft and this method was also used by Pfalz. Junkers developed all metal aircraft and cantilever flight surfaces.

Most aircraft started out using rotary engines, with Fokker holding out the longest as they had a financial stake in the engine builder. Meanwhile as the war progressed, liquid cooled engines proved to be a lot more powerful. This was especially the case late in the war when castor oil for rotaries became scarce, resulting in a lot of failures.

As mentioned, the book goes into the actual building of the aircraft as much as anything else. These areas are as fascinating as any other aspect of the planes and we have the benefit of a number of companies building replicas using the exact same methods of construction as 100 years ago. As such, we can compare images of current construction with archival images. It makes for a fascinating comparison.

All and all, this is a great title not only for those who are fairly well steeped in the subject, but for tyros as well. Highly recommended.

December 2019

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Review book courtesy of  Casemate Publishing. Get yours at this link

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