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Reconnaissance and Bomber Aces of World War 1

Reconnaissance and Bomber Aces of World War 1 Book Review

By David L. Veres

Date of Review February 2016 Title Reconnaissance and Bomber Aces of World War 1
Author Jon Guttman Publisher Osprey Publishing
Published 2015 ISBN 9781782008019
Format 96 pages, softbound MSRP (USD) $22.95


Single-seat aircraft aces dominate popular histories of the Great War. Their counterparts in multi-place machines often escape attention.

Now Osprey amends the imbalance in Reconnaissance and Bomber Aces of World War 1 – number 123 in the publisher’s popular “Aircraft Of The Aces” series.

Jon Guttman’s study spans six chapters and 96 pages. And unlike Osprey’s previous Pusher Aces of World War 1 (“Aircraft Of The Aces” 88), the author exclusively confines coverage to personnel of tractor-engine designs.

Contents commence with introductory notes on observation assets in key early engagements – like Sept 1914’s First Battle of the Marne. Indeed, crews of two-seat reconnaissance aircraft scored the conflict’s first victories.

Coverage then courses, country-by-country, through the whole intriguing account:

  • French
  • British
  • American
  • German
  • Austro-Hungarian

Sections highlight key personalities. And absorbing anecdotes tincture text.

Several celebrated “single-seat” aces – like René Fonck and Georges Guynemer – earned initial kills in multi-place machines. And a surprising number of two-seater crews survived the First World War to serve in the Second.

With five victories, four of which in “one harrowing mission”, Frenchmen Sous-Lt Eugène Weismann and Capt Jean-François Jannekeyn served, for instance, on opposite sides during World War II – the former with Forces Françaises de l’Intérieur, the latter with collaborationist Vichy elements in Syria.

Examples of amazing feats also tincture text. Austrian Zgf Julius Arigi, for instance, escaped from Allied capture “in a Fiat touring car that he had stolen from Prince Nikolaus of Montenegro”. Arigi later confirmed his verve and bravery by claiming five Italian Farman bombers in one “controversial” August 1916 mission.

Nine pages of color plates with separate commentaries summarize the colorful sweep of two-seater aces. Photos, extended captions and appendices augment the account.  And a selected bibliography and index neatly wrap things up.

Seeking a handy entrée to Great War bomber and reconnaissance legends?  Start here!


My sincere thanks to Osprey Publishing for this review sample!