Grim Reapers: French Escadrille 94 in World War I by Jon Guttman
Published by Aeronaut Books on March 15, 2016
This is an exceptional squadron history. It is based on interviews with several pilots that were conducted as far back as the 1970s. Guttman provides insightful, well-written context on the pilots, their aircraft, markings, their adversaries, and daily squadron life.
Escadrille N.94 was created in May 1917, started by flying Nieuport 24s and later transitioned to Spad 7s and 13s as Spa.94. In early 1918, N.94 was split to form a new escadrille, N.156. The latter was one of the few units to fly the Morane-Saulnier AI, a beautiful but fatally flawed high-wing monoplane. The author’s discussion of the short combat history of this little-known fighter is one of many gems in this account.
A number of Americans flew in Escadrilles 94 and 156, including the ace David Putnam and the little-known Austen Crehore. Sergent Crehore was one of the few Americans to be inducted as a Chevalier of the French Légion d’Honneur. (His story is one that deserves to be remembered.) Very highly recommended.
Reviewed by Steve Suddaby, past president of WW1HA
The Great War's Finest: An Operational History of the German Air Service (Operational History of the Imperial German Air Service) (Volume 1) by Matt Bowden
Published by Aeronaut Books on 2017
The Over the Front review of this extraordinary new study described it as a “large-format volume with personal accounts and large-size color and black & white photos, as well as many clear charts [also in color] and multi-color maps. The latter are important to understanding the scope and sweep of the ground war, which aviators strived to support.”
Bowden’s well-footnoted, well-organized tome utilizes primary sources, official publications, squadron histories, after-action reports, and memoirs, many never before published in English. It is much more than a summary of German aviation activities at the start of the war. The effective relationship between Feldflieger Abteilungen (Field Flying Sections) and the advancing armies is explained in the narrative and delineated in several orders-of-battle at key points during the 1914 campaign in the West.
The importance of the Fliegertruppe was not only in reconnaissance, but also in working closely with artillery batteries that contributed to the successes of the German armies during the Battle of The Frontiers. This book is highly recommended and future volumes are eagerly awaited.
Reviewed by Dana Lombardy, publisher of World War One Illustrated