by: Frederick Boucher [ ]
In March 1907, the Admiralty hierarchy responded to a proposal from the Wright brothers for naval heavier-than-aircraft: they saw no use for such craft. When farsighted Admiralty individuals continued heavier-than-air experiments, they created the cadre for airmen and aircraft that would ultimately defend the homeland and fleet against zeppelins, scout, spot gunfire, fight for air superiority, and sink enemy vessels with bombs and torpedoes.
In Royal Naval Air Service Pilot 1914-18, the 152nd book of Osprey’s series WARRIOR, author LT. Mark Barber, RN, illuminates the service of the pilots and machines of the RNAS. In 64 pages featuring dozens of photographs, six illustrations and a diagram by illustrator Adam Hook, the life and service of the Royal navy airman is brought to life. LT Barber examines the foundation of the RNAS, the opposition to heavier-than-aircraft, the original pilots, technological advances, uniforms, attitudes, aircraft, and an outline of their war contributions.
If you want to book detailing specific pilots, craft, or campaigns, then this is not the book for you. It is a vignette of those topics. This book delves into the origins, recruiting, uniforms, history, milestones, and the life of an aircrewman, instead of the combat performance of individual RNAS units and pilots. LT Barber does enrich the text with some personal accounts of crewmembers, and even excerpts from official reports.
Royal Naval Air Service Pilot 1914-18 is presented to you in nine chapters:
1. INTRODUCTION: THE ORIGINS OF NAVAL AVIATION IN BRITAIN
3. RECRUITMENT AND TRAINING
4. EQUIPMENT: FLYING CLOTHING AND UNIFORM
5. AIRCRAFT OF THE FLEET
· Avro 504
· De Havilland 4
· Short Type 184
· Felixstowe F.2A
· Sopwith 11/2 Strutter
· Nieuport Scouts
· Sopwith Pup
· Sopwith Triplane
· Sopwith Camel
6. ON CAMPAIGN: CONDITIONS IN THEATER
7. BELIEF AND BELONGING
8. EXPERIENCE OF BATTLE
10. SELECT BIOGRAPHY
Many of the photographs will be familiar to those who have read similar topics; though I found some I have not seen before. Given the limitations of WW I photography, it is no surprise that several of the photos are blurry. Many are clear and sharp. They all convey the intent of the accompanying text. For the modeler, some are fascinating –one photo of a Nieuport shows a grimy escalloped pattern on the fabric along the internal structure of the fuselage, presumably caused by the slipstream displacing the fabric enough for oil and exhaust to sully it. On another, spilled petrol and lubricants have run along edges to produce what looks like a badly executed model wash!
Mr. Hook enriches the book with his illustrations. The paintings are traditional brush on canvas instead of the CGI graphics that are so popular nowadays. Each is accompanied by a narrative text box. While there are no profiles of any of the aircraft, profiles of generic personnel bring the descriptive text to life.
It is difficult for me to find any complaint with this work. While the text is detailed, this book is very readable, though some topics are less than captivating. The illustrations are good. The many photographs, several unfamiliar to me, are a bonus.
Whether you are a historian or modeler, Royal Naval Air Service Pilot 1914-18 offers good information of interest for anyone. I recommend this book.
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