Aces High: War In The Air Over The Western Front, 1914-18 by ALAN CLARK

By ALAN CLARK

Aces High serves to remind us that, if no longer a wholly scrupulous flesh presser, nor an ideal husband, Alan Clark fairly was once an excellent army historian.

There has advanced anything of a fantasy concerning the warfare within the air among 1914-1918. the parable is going that, whereas within the dirt and gore of the trenches under any idealism and chivalry quick sputtered and died, within the purer air above the final noble heroes battled in one-to-one dogfights like knights of outdated. it's a fable that Clark shoots down in flames, with attribute iconoclasm.

One of the nice RFC aces was once Mick Mannock, famed for his come upon with a coaching teacher, out in a formation of six, with 5 of his very green-horned students. Mannock first shot down the trainer after which ruthlessly pursued all of the newcomers and shot them down one after the other. This wasn't chivalry, it was once struggle, and even if extra based to monitor, it was once every piece as deadly as Passchendaele.

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Example text

For some reason the German mili­ particularly by the airscrew, which, in front­ tary authorities refused to supply him with a engined planes, made it impossible to use a machine-gun on which to run field tests. I n machine-gun except in the three-quarter rear the meantime, Raymond Saulnier had been field. Plainly the first deSigner who could conducting parallel experiments in France. An FE8 from 41 Squadron crosses the Allied hnes after a patrol over the Somme battle· field In October 1916. Saulnier had become impatient with hang-fire propeller moves into its line of fire, a series of failures and had circumvented this by fitting mechanical steel deneclion plates on the propeller blade propeller interrupts the aClion of the gun until where its arc crossed the line of the gun; and the propeller blade is out of the line of fire.

His personal Fokker after his fatal crash in June 1 9 1 6. DH2 'pusher' Biplane of 32 Squadron taking off from Ven Galand airfield In Nonhern France. Above: A Left: Flieg"",bteilung 62, Doual, 20 January 1 9 1 6. In centre, Oswald BoelcKe, Hermann Kastner and Max lmmelmann. B A C K G R 0 U "I 0 CII were used, but their extreme vulnerability and while the new generation of Allied to ground fire soon led to armour-plate being fighters (the SE5, Sopwith Camel and Spad filled around the engine, fuel tanks and crew XIII) was being developed, the Germans put compartment, while proper armoured contact the sleek, shark-like Albatros DI and II into patrol aircraft (the J class) were designed.

It was only a maner of time before gun ammunition did not have a preCisely machine-guns began to find their way into uniform period of ignition; hand-fire rounds aeroplanes, though initially only as the would occur unpredictably, and if the pilot observer's weapon on two-seaters. was out of luck these would strike his superiority over the more But the machine-gun was a heavy weapon airscrew. As early as 1 9 1 3, a German, Franz and it consumed a lot of ammunition. More­ Schneider of the LVG, had deSigned an inter­ over, its field of fire was severely restricted by rupter mechanism and taken out a patent.

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