The Spring 2016 issue opens with “Eclipsing the Enemy over the Western Front: A History of Escadrille 102” by Peter Kilduff (issue editor), Jon Guttman and the late F.W. Bailey. These noted authors collaborated in researching, translating and writing this record of a noteworthy French escadrille’s activities throughout the course of World War I. The unit’s personnel, bases and principal achievements are carefully reviewed and presented in full along with a number of rare images that help complete the tale of Escadrille 102.
Douglas Lantry, PhD, a curator in the Research Division at the National Museum of the US Air Force in Dayton OH, offers a sampling of the works produced by a French aviator and artist in “A New Art is Born – the Aviation Art of Henri Farré at the National Museum of the US Air Force 2014-2015.” Farré served on the front lines with Escadrille VB 101, and it was from his experiences there that he created over 100 portraits of the dawn of aerial warfare and the men who participated in it. As Lantry notes in his conclusion: “The body of Henri Farré’s aviation art is important because it presented – with great skill, vision, and sensitivity – a new perspective to an audience unfamiliar with the reality of aerial warfare, and because the work’s subject and style signifies the transition from the sensibilities of the 19th century to the emergent realities of the 20th.”
Steve Suddaby, Javier Arango and Kimball Worcester take a different approach in “SPAD VII & XIII Aircraft of Escadre 1: New Research with a Statistical View of Fighter Operations.” Rather than concentrate on a few individual pilots, the authors collected data on an entire fighter wing’s activities over a three-month period in the summer of 1918 to examine how it used its aircraft and what resulted from that use. The goal was to offer a new way of analyzing World War I fighter aircraft operations and the challenges they faced.
League member emeritus, Stewart K. Taylor, contributes his biography of a Canadian pilot in “Röth’s 19th: Lt T.C. Martin, 85 Squadron, RAF – Part I.” It is an in-depth look into the life of a young man who answered the “call of the air” and did his duty before joining the ranks of the world’s millions who gave their lives for their country. Martin’s career, spanning from his training days to his death at the hands of Germany’s ace, Friedrich ‘Fritz’ von Röth, is given full treatment and is accompanied by photos originating from family albums. Part II of this biography will appear in a future issue.
Peter Kilduff’s “Bombers over the Southern Rhine” concludes the issue. It is a study of the efforts carried out by Entente Powers to bomb targets in western Germany and the German military’s response to such incursions. Beginning with French raids on military objectives at Müllheim, Düsseldorf and Cologne, bombing runs were later expanded to include civilian centers after German attacks on Paris and Reims. The British joined in as well and conducted the final air raid of the war when one machine from No.55 Squadron, RAF, dropped a handful of bombs on Bensdorf Railway Station on 9 November 1918 – the day Kaiser Wilhelm abdicated.
This issue introduces a new, regularly-appearing column entitled “In the Cockpit.” In it, Blaine Pardoe will use his considerable expertise to assess and review role-playing games involving World War I aviation, beginning with “Wings of Glory.”
In our “Between the Lines” column, President Michael O’Neal tells us about the League’s upcoming seminar, “The Centennial of Aviation Warfare – Part II,” to be held in Dayton OH on 28-30 September 2016.
“Between the Bookends” provides our readers with in-depth reviews, written by Peter Kilduff, Carl Bobrow, Noel Shirley and Steve Suddaby, of 13 recent publications centered on World War I aviation.