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British Fighter Aircraft in WWI

British Fighter Aircraft in WWI Book Review

By David L. Veres

Date of Review May 2021 Title British Fighter Aircraft in WWI
Author Mark C. Wilkins Publisher Casemate
Published 2021 ISBN 9781612008813
Format 192 pages, softbound MSRP (USD) $39.95


Mark C. Wilkins explores “Design, Construction and Innovation” in British Fighter Aircraft in WWI – available in North America from Casemate, and part of the publisher’s “Casemate Illustrated” range.

Contents commence with historical notes on the technical, economic, social, political, and, dernier cri, cultural underpinnings of warplane development over a century back. Author Wilkins regularly stresses, for instance, the transformative role of women in wartime aircraft production.

But don’t expect broad subject coverage of his core topic. Wilkins only recaps “most of the major fighter-producing businesses that materially [my italics] contributed to the war effort”.

Text therefore highlights five key companies:

  • Bristol
  • Royal Aircraft Factory
  • Airco
  • Avro
  • Sopwith

A final chapter reviews “Engines and Props”. And two appendices respectively address legislation and patents.

Plenty of illustrations pepper this admirably annotated précis.

Period photos. Detail shots. Archival images. Drawings. Restorations and replicas. Even personalities.

Modelers will like it, too. Ronny Bar’s superb color profiles proffer potent project potential.

Lots of fascinating facts further tincture text. How about A.V. Roe’s ingenious turnbuckle design? He “made more money selling his patented turnbuckles than he ever did making airplanes”, Wilkins claims!

Sidebars, extended captions, capsule biographies, endnotes, references, and indices also augment the account.

But “rockstar”? “[G]ame changer”? [U]nderwhelmed? The “Brits”? I know this is popular history, but colloquialisms undermine rhetorical impact. Social-distance, please.

Additionally, in multiple instances, annotations confirm that just one reference feeds a specific section of text. How closely, then, did each passage follow its solitary source?

Still, Wilkins’ compact chronicle proved an illuminating, entertaining read. WWI aviation enthusiasts will enjoy it – even without much “combat” coverage!

With thanks to Casemate Publishing for the review copy!