A World War II pilot himself, the memoirist and critic Samuel Hynes revives the adventurous young men who inspired his own generation to take to the sky. The volunteer fliers were often privileged-the sorts of college athletes and Ivy League students who might appear in an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel, and sometimes did. Others were country boys from the farms and ranches of the West. Hynes follows them from the flying clubs of Harvard, Princeton, and Yale and the grass airfields of Texas and Canada to training grounds in Europe and on to the front, where they learned how to fight a war in the air. And to the bars and clubs of Paris and London, where they unwound and discovered another kind of excitement, another challenge. He shows how East Coast aristocrats like Teddy Roosevelt's son Quentin and Arizona roughnecks like Frank Luke the Balloon Buster all dreamed of chivalric single combat in the sky, and how they came to know both the beauty of flight and the constant presence of death.
By drawing on letters sent home, diaries kept, and memoirs published in the years that followed, Hynes brings to life the emotions, anxieties, and triumphs of the young pilots. They gasp in wonder at the world seen from a plane, struggle to keep their hands from freezing in open air cockpits, party with actresses and aristocrats, rest at Voltaire's castle, and search for their friends' bodies on the battlefield. Their romantic war becomes more than that-a harsh but often thrilling reality. Weaving together their testimonies, The Unsubstantial Air is a moving portrait of a generation coming of age under new and extreme circumstances.
This beautifully illustrated book provides details of every power that took part in Military aircraft activity during the First World War. The war was a global conflict with 57 nations involved but with aviation being in its infancy only eight nations had a major air arm to their fighting Services. The Allies: Britain, America, Italy, Belgium, France, and Russia and then the Central Powers comprising Germany and Austria - Hungary.
The book covers the formation, establishment and wartime exploits of all the major air powers during the war, as well as providing thumbnail sketches of all the major aces for each country, giving full coverage to: The Allies: The Royal Flying Corps, The French Military Air Service, The United States Air Service, Aeronautica de Region Esercito (Italy), The Belgian Air Arm, The Russian Imperial Air Services. The Central Powers: The Imperial German Air Service, and the Austro-Hungarian flying service However, smaller powers (at the time) like Australia, Canada and Japan as well as Portugal, Serbia, Romania and South Africa are all featured is this fascinating book.
The Royal Naval Air Service invested heavily in aircraft of all types—aeroplanes, seaplanes, airships, and kite balloons—in order to counter the German U-boats. Under the Royal Air Force, the air campaign against U-boats continued uninterrupted. Aircraft bombed German U-boat bases in Flanders, conducted area and ‘hunting’ patrols around the coasts of Britain, and escorted merchant convoys to safety. Despite the fact that aircraft acting alone destroyed only one U-boat during the war, the overall contribution of naval aviation to foiling U-boat attacks was significant. Only five merchant vessels succumbed to submarine attack when convoyed by a combined air and surface escort during World War I.
This book examines aircraft and weapons technology, aircrew training, and the aircraft production issues that shaped this campaign. Then, a close examination of anti-submarine operations—bombing, patrols, and escort—yields a significantly different judgment from existing interpretations of these operations. This study is the first to take an objective look at the writing and publication of the naval and air official histories as they told the story of naval aviation during the Great War. The author also examines the German view of aircraft effectiveness, through German actions, prisoner interrogations, official histories, and memoirs, to provide a comparative judgment. The conclusion closes with a brief narrative of post-war air anti-submarine developments and a summary of findings.
Overall, the author concludes that despite the challenges of organization, training, and production the employment of aircraft against U-boats was largely successful during the Great War.
This book will be of interest to historians of naval and air power history, as well as students of World War I and military history in general.
Bleriot’s exploit encouraged the politicians to reassess how Britain would be defended in the future. An important government committee heard evidence that led directly to the forming of the Royal Flying Corps – an organization that initially included army and naval wings. Superficially, the Royal Navy was moving from strength to strength as it expanded in the naval arms race with Germany. The service remained in high public esteem but a section of the ruling Liberal party wanted money diverted for welfare – a new and powerful competitor for funds. The Two-Power Standard was quietly dropped in 1909 and the astronomical costs of battleship building forced the Navy to look for cheaper substitutes such as submarines and aircraft. A forceful critic of naval expenditure, Winston S. Churchill fostered the early development of airpower when he became First Lord in 1911 and continued to do so when out of office.
The German air raids of 1917 panicked the wartime government into making an ill-considered merger of naval and army air arms that supported imaginative but untried theories of airpower. In 1938, a later government submitted to the national psychosis of bombing by allowing the Royal Air Force to be the only service to rearm without regard to the nation’s ability to afford it. In 1940, the contribution of the Royal Navy was minimized as Churchill praised the RAF for saving the nation from invasion in the Battle of Britain. As a result the RAF’s story has achieved an iconic status that is part of British national identity. Consequently, more important operations including the Dunkirk evacuation; Battle of the Atlantic; Battle of Mers El Kebir and the naval operations against the Italian fleet have been underrated and misunderstood. This ultimate justification of independent airpower continues to undermine understandings of maritime defense and may have skewed US and UK defense policies in the wrong direction for decades.
This study examines the efforts of the Royal Flying Corps to gain air supremacy against the German Air Service before and during the Battle of the Somme.
Amazingly, life as an observer suspended in a wicker basket under an elephantine hydrogen balloon proved less deadly than piloting an airplane. From his grandstand seat, the observer kept tabs on the war below him and telephoned vital information to headquarters command. These reports were often the only accurate intelligence available. Balloonists remember the war as a great adventure, one which many of them lived to tell about.