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Flatpack Bombers: The Royal Navy and the Zeppelin Menace [Kindle Edition]

Ian Gardiner
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

Our vision of aviation in the First World War is dominated by images of gallant fighter pilots duelling with each other high over the Western Front. But it was the threat of the Zeppelin which spurred the British government into creating the Royal Flying Corps, and it was this ‘menace’, which no aircraft could match in the air at the beginning of the war, which led Winston Churchill and the Royal Navy to set about bombing these airships on the ground. Thus in 1914, the Royal Naval Air Service, with their IKEA-style flatpack airplanes, pioneered strategic bombing. Moreover, through its efforts to extend its striking range in order to destroy Zeppelins in their home bases, the Royal Navy developed the first true aircraft carriers.

This book is the story of those largely forgotten very early bombing raids. It explains the military and historical background to the first British interest in military and naval aviation, and why it was that the Navy pursued long distance bombing, while the Army concentrated on reconnaissance. Every bomber raid, and every aircraft carrier strike operation since, owes its genesis to those early naval flyers, and there are ghosts from 1914 which haunt us still today.

About the Author

Ian Gardiner is a retired Royal Marine Brigadier and author of The best-selling In the Service of the Sultan. He lives in Edinburgh.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1878 KB
  • Print Length: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Pen & Sword (19 Aug. 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008KMNZC0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #614,011 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Flatpack Bootnecks 29 July 2009
Format:Hardcover
Flatback Bombers is an excellent book, and has obviously been meticulously researched. Some may consider the suject matter to be an obscure irrelevance, but Ian Gardiner has brought to light a most significant story of THE first strategic bombing missions in history. The tribe of Royal Marine Aviators is not a large one, and as a member, I am personally delighted that the author has put on record, in such a readable manner, the exploits of our founding members. And to learn how those aviators just happened to invent the tank along the way,- well, icing on the cake! ANYONE should enjoy this book. Written in Gardiner's jaunty, tongue-in-cheek-but-serious style,, one can almost sense the glint in his eye. He proves expert in getting across the message of how unbelievably basic and unreliable those early aeroplanes were. And of how courageous must have been those pioneering pilots to fly them at all, let alone take them to war! It is also refreshing to learn that not all the action in World War One was senseless slaughter. Excellent reading!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars royal naval air service 11 Oct. 2010
Format:Hardcover
This interesting book is in two parts firstly it deals with the activities of the Royal Naval Air Service(the maritime wing of the Royal Flying Corps)in bombing 3 German cities in an attempt to destroy Zeppelins as they could not be dealt with any other way. Other activities of the RNAS included development of strategic bombing,aircraft carriers,armoured cars,tanks and prefabricated aeroplanes all on the orders of Churchill who was First Lord of the Admiralty (1914-5)
The second part of the book deals with the strategic use of the Zeppelin which was not properly recog nised by the Germans and the myth of its invincibility.
An excellent book that records a little known feature of the Great War.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Flatpack Bombers - Direct Hit 25 Jun. 2009
Format:Hardcover
Ian Gardiner has combined - or rather flatpacked - a fascinating piece of aviation ,naval and military history into a book which is also a thundering good read. If you enjoy escaping from weighty offical histories to the real world of innovation , personal courage and old-fashioned derring-do, then buy two copies of the Flatpack Bombers and give one to any teenager in the family.
Prof. David Purdie, Edinburgh.
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Was this review helpful to you?
Format:Hardcover
This is a wild, enlightening and incredible book. Gardiner has a wonderful ability to take a walk into the “long grass” as he calls it to find the facts and the stories mostly forgotten. In Flatpack Bombers he has a tale replete with James Bond-like daring exploits as well as incredible bravery on an almost daily basis. Gardiner blends well researched facts with personal human elements which combined to make the history of aerial delivered bombs as we still know it over 90 years later. Along the way we learn how a handful of British airmen, in aircraft assembled from crates (flatpacks), accomplished the:

First strategic bombing (in the sense of destroying infrastructure and manufacturing facilities hundreds of miles from any front)
First low level bombing
First aircraft carrier
First aircraft carrier launched attack
First entirely airborne sea battle (British carrier based aircraft versus German port based seaplanes)
Although extreme care was taken avoid civilian casualties, also the first unintended civilian casualties of a bombing raid
But Gardiner does not avoid the past or the present in his so very well written book. He fully explains the birth of the world’s first air force (ultimately becoming the Royal Air Force) coming into being to counter the Zeppelin threat from Germany during World War I, as well as how Imperial Germany failed to make the threat a reality at the expense of enhancing their submarine menace. He also, through writing of the personalities involved, illustrates how the Royal Navy foresaw the offensive advantages of the airplane whereas the Royal Army was somewhat myopic in those regards. His strategic understanding of the Royal Navy’s Grand Fleet as well as Imperial Germany’s surface fleet is enlightening.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Gensis of Naval Aviation 15 Sept. 2009
By Lawrence K. Weber - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is a great history of an epic in which warfare took to the skies. The zeppelin threat caused the Royal Navy along with Churchill to act for the defense of the realm in the creation of the Royal Naval Air Service. I have awaited the publication of this book for many years as I was privileged to know one of the first aviators who bombed the Friedricshaven Zeppelin base in 1914. Chief Air Marshal Sir John Tremayne (nee Babington) would be proud of this fine history.

Brigadier Gardiner has done a masterful job of writing a very readable history based upon excellent research and finding some excellent photos of the time. In short, it is a good read, but also a treasure for the library of anyone interested in Naval aviation L.K. Weber, CDR USN (Ret.)
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible feats of airmanship and the beginnings of aircraft carrier aviation 12 May 2014
By Joseph May - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a wild, enlightening and incredible book. Gardiner has a wonderful ability to take a walk into the “long grass” as he calls it to find the facts and the stories mostly forgotten. In Flatpack Bombers he has a tale replete with James Bond-like daring exploits as well as incredible bravery on an almost daily basis. Gardiner blends well researched facts with personal human elements which combined to make the history of aerial delivered bombs as we still know it over 90 years later. Along the way we learn how a handful of British airmen, in aircraft assembled from crates (flatpacks), accomplished the:

First strategic bombing (in the sense of destroying infrastructure and manufacturing facilities hundreds of miles from any front)
First low level bombing
First aircraft carrier
First aircraft carrier launched attack
First entirely airborne sea battle (British carrier based aircraft versus German port based seaplanes)
Although extreme care was taken avoid civilian casualties, also the first unintended civilian casualties of a bombing raid
But Gardiner does not avoid the past or the present in his so very well written book. He fully explains the birth of the world’s first air force (ultimately becoming the Royal Air Force) coming into being to counter the Zeppelin threat from Germany during World War I, as well as how Imperial Germany failed to make the threat a reality at the expense of enhancing their submarine menace. He also, through writing of the personalities involved, illustrates how the Royal Navy foresaw the offensive advantages of the airplane whereas the Royal Army was somewhat myopic in those regards. His strategic understanding of the Royal Navy’s Grand Fleet as well as Imperial Germany’s surface fleet is enlightening. His pilot-level perspective also does not disappoint as he defines their intrepidness and what must have seemed disregard of their aircraft frailties as well as severe navigational challenges. His description of how pilots flew aircraft powered by Gnome rotary engines alone has the reader either in complete amazement of these airmen or complete bewilderment.

Happily, this book also addresses in detail the Zeppelin designs, combat history, strategic uses as well as misuses — and Gardiner writes with the same knowledge and verve as he does with the flatpack bombers. Reading about the exploits of Noel Pemberton Billing reminds the reader of “Indiana Jones” with the exception that Pemberton Billing is nonfiction!

Gardiner’s book is also useful as an aspiration of how to explain research and overview with energy, clarity and understanding. But most of all read this book for the trials, failure and pathfinding of these legacy airmen (Gardiner’s term and well ascribed) as well as what he underscores about them, “…morale, courage, endurance and human ingenuity mean everything.”
5.0 out of 5 stars A very good overview of a challenging subject 13 Oct. 2013
By Joseph Gleeson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book covers a good range of primary and secondary sources in recounting the role of the RNAS in combatting the aerial bombing threat.

It covers more than just "the Zeppelin Menace" from the traditonal perspective of a [somewhat ineffective] interceptor role the RNAS played (see for example Cole and Cheeseman 'Air Defence of Britain' for the blow-by-blow account of each bombing raid on Britain and the units involved in each engagement). Rather, Gardiner's book takes on the much broader subject of the RNAS as a tactical bombing force.

This is an enormous challenge, as the book could have fractured into a staccato account of disjointed events and occurrences, but Gardiner holds it all together admirably. Dusseldorf, Friedrichshafen and Cuxhaven are all covered.

This book should appeal to those with an interest in military history or aviation history.
5.0 out of 5 stars it has a lot of GREAT interesting historical information 8 Jan. 2015
By frank p ramirez - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I just started reading it, but so far, it has a lot of GREAT interesting historical information. If you like WW1 aviation, you would enjoy this book.
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