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The flying machines of the First World War

Aircraft of World War I 1914-1918 - Jack Herris

The title of the series is a little misleading; this is not so much an identification guide as it is a well-illustrated overview of aircraft employed in the First World War. In a series of short chapters, Jack Herris and Bob Pearson talk about the types of planes employed on the various fronts during given periods, with box summaries of their performance details and anecdotal stories about their use.


The value of the book is threefold. The first is the numerous illustrations of the planes. These are the book’s most obvious attraction, and they provide colorful depictions of the planes themselves. The second is the book’s comprehensiveness: while the air war on the Western Front understandably receives the most coverage, there are chapters addressing as well the other fronts of the war and the use of aircraft in naval warfare and strategic bombing. Finally, there is the text itself. Though short, the narrative is nicely descriptive, while the aeronautical details are presented in a way that helps the reader understand the science behind the planes’ designs and why or why not they worked.


These factors make the book an excellent introduction to the planes that fought in the first air war. Though readers seeking a detailed examination of air warfare or dramatic tales of the pilots dueling in the skies will want to look elsewhere, anyone seeking to learn about the planes themselves and their employment throughout the conflict would be hard pressed to find a better place to begin.