Military Archive Research
by Dr. Stuart C Blank
Member of the Orders and Medals Research Society (OMRS)
Member of the Royal Air Force Historical Society (RAFHS)
Member of the Naval Historical Collectors and Research Association (NHCRA)
Member of the Nautical Archaeology Society (NAS)
Member of the International Bank Note Society (IBNS)
Member of the International Bond and Share Society (IBSS)




Review of
Pioneers of Aerial Combat
Air Battles of the First World War
By Michael Foley
Pen and Sword (
ISBN 9781781592724
RRP GBP £19.99


The first flights by the Wright brothers impressed many nations and populations by their ground breaking research and achievements. Their first flights were historic and it sparked the imagination of many who wanted to fly in not just America but around the whole globe.

Britain was not an early adopter compared to other European nations such as France. These early pioneers of flight faced great dangers and often death in their pursuit of fulfilling the dream of aviation. Aircraft design had progress by the outbreak of the Great War but accidents were still a very regular occurrence.

For some time the ratio of pilots killed in action to accidents was on parity. This volume outlines the lives of these heroic fighters / aviators and it consolidates a range of stories about them and their activities. The author has drawn on many recorded stories, insights and facts, that when combined reveal a vivid impression of the aerial battlefield.

The Great War provided the impetuous for aircraft development as the role of aircraft gradually expanded. Also there were demands placed on the aeronautical industry to produce aircraft not just for frontline service on the Western Front but also the Home Front, defending Britain’s shores. These developments are eloquently relayed as too are the aerial battles that characterised this period.

The war gave aircraft designers the opportunity to evaluate their designs and developments in the harshest of environments. This competition not just between the various manufacturers but also against developments by the enemy kept pushing the standards required to higher and higher levels.

This book describes these events and the volume is bound to appeal to aviation enthusiasts and historians. It gives a comprehensive account of the early developments of flight and this is spread over four large chapters on the early years of flight, early aircraft producers, the Home Front and the war in Europe. It also has three excellent appendices on Great War (in Britain) airfields, manufacturers and aviation museums / collections

Overall this is a nice easy to read and enjoyable tome. It concentrates on the early years of flight and how these early craft were turned into combat vehicles. It deserves to be read by anyone who has an interest in these early years of aerial combat and the author deserves congratulations on a job well done.

January 2014