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4.6 out of 5 stars
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 14 January 2013
A lot is achieved here in a modest size book of 187 pages, and it is certainly very attective visually. The colour profiles are very good and many little known types are illustrated (Spad A2, Lohner L, etc). Of course there have to be compromises: plan elevations would be nice to see but would have almost doubled the size of the book, and the text is short and somewhat simplistic, but the author does tackle the Middle East and the Italian front, together with the aircraft used on them, quite well, whilst the Russian Front at least gets a mention. Unfortunately there are numerous errors in the specifications, often from pounds being mistaken for kilos though others are inexplicable.

Mr Herris is an expert on and enthusiast for the German airforce and this becomes very obvious. Like many others he is smitten by the 'romance' of the German Jastas. There is far more here about the German airforce than any other. Its true he gives some credit to the RFC in the text but his admiration for the Germans- Boelcke, Richthofen and the rest- is only too clear.

As far a illustrations are concerned, the first fifty profiles include 25 German, 17 French and 5 British designs and the impression is given that we British were scarely present on the Western Front at all. The German strategic offesive againt Britain is 'glamourised' with seven colourful illustrations of Gothas and 'giants': there are no illustrations here of French or British equivalents: you have go on another 110 pages to find two pictures of Handley Page bombers. Totting up the profiles there are 7 Fokker DVII's, 8 Spad V11/X111's and 2 British SE Va's. I'm not one to complain (!) but....I'd also like to make a plea for the Russians: as Mickhail Maslov's excellent book 'Russian Aeroplanes, 1914-1918' reveals, the Russians designed more than 300 aircraft: its true not too many were built in quantity, but there are only two shown in this book. (I have written a review of Mr Maslov's book). Authors (like reviewers!) show their preferences and prejudices through the emphasis given in the narrative and in this case also through the choice of illustrations.

The statistics are curiously lacking in balance also. There are lists giving totals for German A and B types- but, oddly, not for the far more important C types that followed: Mr Herris does give this in one of his other books, so if space was an issue why omit C types here and yet include the A types? There is some similar data covering the French airforce but none at all for the British. The lack of such detail may reflect lack of available data, but I rather doubt that. Given that the remarkably agressive British effort on the Western Front really became the key feature of the whole air war at least some statistical information describing it would have been welcome -there is actually rather more about the Austro Hungarians. By 1918 the Royal Airforce was the largest in the world. It's tue the British concentrated on making relatively few designs in very large numbers, but much better coverage could still have been given here.

I do not deny that this is a fascinating and ambitious book from which most people will learn quite a lot- I certainly did. Moreover I dare say that few readers will even notice the criticisms i have made, and I expect negative reactions to this review- but as a patriotic Englishman I find it hard to tolerate bias towards anyone except my own countrymen- especially when it comes from an American author!
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on 21 November 2010
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It is a comprehensive and readable overview of aviation in WW1 but sufficently in depth enough for anyone above the level of wanting familiarisation of every nut and bolt for which there are other sources. Each aircraft description is succinct whilst the overviews of changes in technology are just right. In addition the author delves into areas that you generally don't see in volumes of this kind - economics for example a hitherto negelected topic. Finally the illustrations, crisp and detailed! If this is the standard for the Essential Aircraft Identification Guide series then I'm hooked!
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The book: what you notice first are the colour side views of 174 aircraft types (and a few observation balloons and zeppelins), plus quite a few of the same type in different schemes. Each image is accompanied by a small box (think top trump cards!) with specifications. They're arranged partly in chronological order, partly to go with the chapter they illustrate - and these chapters deal with early days, start of combat, bombing, maritime aviation, plus separate treatments of the Eastern front, the Middle East, and the Italian front. These are full of interesting notes on tactics and strategy, comparisons between the various aircraft types, weaponry, technology, statistics. Occasionally there are plates with multiple very small 'plane profiles to show the various markings within a squadron or Jasta, down to wheelcover colours.

My opnion: the best overview I have come across. There are a few shortcomings, but they don't detract (well, not much) from the fact that this is the best book on the subject I have seen. Not all types are illustrated (I would have loved a picture of the Giant bomber, or of R-planes); you only get a side view, so for modellers it is of limited use - though you do get multiple schemes for some of the more famous types. To have so much coverage (174 types, I repeat!) of the rapidly evolving aircraft of these five years is great. But for individual types (and those all-important top views) I still will go back to my Aircraft Profiles, dating back to the 60s and 70s. As an overview, for a reasonable price, and most importantly, available version, this book is still excellent value for money.
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on 31 January 2011
I like this book! The drawings are great and the written part is fine if you want a quick tour of WWI air combat. Don't expect anything too detailled, this book is not tring to cover everything in depth but that's fine as it does not claim to be. The reason it lost a star was that at times it concentrates too much on certain aircraft types to the detriment of others for example, there are four drawings of Gotha GIVs and only one of a Pfalz DIII and none of the a sub-type.
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on 12 January 2011
This is a beautiful,colourful and informative guide to the most important aircraft of the Great War.Over 250 colour profiles and specifications fill the 192 pages.It covers all the major theatres of the conflict,including the Middle East,the Eastern Front ,the Italian Front and others.Some fascinating photographs add a human touch.The colour profiles,however steal the show displaying the psychadelic flambouyance of these early colour schemes.Some of these aircraft are so bizzare-looking like the Caproni Ca4,or the Viosin 8 and 10 that I would love to have seen them in the air.This book is great value also.The only things I would like to have seen are 1/72 scale top-down views as all the profiles are side-on.I did notice a strut missing on the Albatros Dva,but thats my modeller's eye for detail.Overall a superbly researched and entertaining pece of work.
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on 19 June 2015
This is a very well written little book and well illustrated with excellent side drawings. It is not detailed. One could not expect that in a book of this size. However it is a very useful introduction and guide to the subject. A few more photos would be welcome but even so this book is very good value. Incidentally it is the only one of its type I could find.
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on 21 October 2012
This book features a great overview of the aircraft of World War 1. Each chapter covers varous aspects of the airwar. For instance one chapter features strategic bombing and another the early days of the war. There are many illustrations of various aircraft and many are painted. Just like the ones on the cover. This is is a overview book and cannot cover every aircraft used during the war. But it is logically done and written in a clear manner that reflects known facts. It's a easy read and it can appeal to everyone from the younger to oldest reader because the info is presented well. This is not a personal account book like arch whitehouses great book 'no parachute' , it's in a different vien. The colorado springs library system bought this one as they were impressed with it too.
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on 14 February 2011
This well researched, highly detailed, beautifully illustrated book is worth every penny. The text is crisp, and so well written, complemented by terrific colour images, each giving information about the machine and the individual pilot. It is a very absorbing book, and certainly I have no hesitation in recommending it highly.
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on 5 March 2011
A high quality book, with detailed drawings and supplementery information. Gives a good overall insight in airplanes of the period - without going to deep into history, tech. details etc. For that - airplane ethusiasts cand find this information elseware. Highly recommended!
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on 20 March 2016
A really excellent book with some superb illustrations. The text is concise but informative, and the number of aircraft covered seems comprehensive. An excellent text for the modeller and the wargamer.
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