Oswald Boelcke: Germany’s First Fighter Ace and Father of Air Combat
Published by Grub Street on August 5, 2016
Head’s distinguished U.S. Air Force career involved flying several combat aircraft and several assignments in Vietnam. His work on Boelcke reflects Head’s insights on how aerial combat assumed a definitive role thanks to Boelcke’s leadership and legacy.
The book is a leisure read, covering aviators, the physical flying environment, and the rewards associated with combat aviation.
The formation and evolution of Germany’s air service is interweaved with Boelcke’s life. Information on aeroplanes is covered in detail, particularly the Fokker Eindecker models and Albatros series that replaced it.
Most important is the discussion of Boelcke’s Dicta, the foundation of formal German fighter tactic principles he wrote in 1916 that still apply today (although not always attributed to him). Boelcke’s concept of deploying fighters in squadron formation produced higher effectiveness and protection especially when flying together under the lead of an expert pilot.
The appendices include Boelcke’s chronology, the aces Boelcke trained (including the Red Baron), a detailed evolution of the Albatros fighter, and four of Boelcke’s contemporaries who also wrote their views on aerial tactics.
Abridged from review by Terrence Finnegan in RoadstotheGreatWar-ww1.blogspot.com/