British and American Aces of World War I

Being there . . . . for Schiffer Publishing Company’s famed military historian-author Norman
Franks’ introductions of British and American Aces of World War I, followed in a few weeks,
with an equally rare meeting of German air aces of that bitter disastrous European conflict.
Mention the name Norman Franks and buffs of the First World War spring and leap to salute.
All agree that Norman, with more than 80 works to large-formatted works to his name, bathes
in such sobriquets as “world renowned” and “acknowledged expert” because he really is a
dedicated researcher of British, American, French, and German aviation history. In addition to
his impeccable research, he is matchless when it comes to quiet, well-told narration of complex
aerial battles, especially when supported with photos, diagrams, charts, maps, drawings, etc.
Here, there are 229 pages of faces, if studied carefully, reveal more than even he can describe.
Their photo identities are clear and cogent, suggesting each man has an incredible, hardly
believable, autobiography to share driving the reader nuts yearning to know and befriend.
“BRITISH AND AMERICAN ACES OF WORLD WAR I – – The Pictorial Record”, by Norman Franks. A
Schiffer Military History Book, Atglen, Pa.: 2005, 229 pages, 9” x 11 ½”, hardcover; $59.95. E-
mail: info@schifferbooks.com.
Reviewed and highly recommended by Don DeNevi
To prove how demanding such a book was to create, compile, and compose in words and
photos, Norman lets us know in the second paragraph that throughout the day and nights of
those brutal four years, 1914 – 1918 German aces numbered a little over 400, while the
combined total of British and Americans ranged around 900. Of course, it was an impossible
task to collect reasonable portraits or just photos of the lower scoring aces. Therefore, decided
the author, he would concentrate on those British aces that achieved ten or more definite kills.
For us Americans, he covered all fighter pilots, from Rickenbacker’s 26 down to Robert Todd’s
five. Enthralling is how this masterful work is subdivided: first, THE TOP TWELVE, each fighter
pilot with 14 victories. Then follows the aces with 39 to 30 certain and verified “kills”; followed
by 29 to 20, all the way down to aces with 9 to 5. The final two section of the book are devoted
to the pilots and aces of the French Air Service and British and American aces in alphabetical
order.
Since this over-sized, coffee-table book is a pictorial record, it offers no narrative texts or in-
depth captions or bibliography of biographies or autobiographies. A crying shame since this
hard-research endeavor surely would have mentioned, which, in less than an hour could have
alphabetized for us buffs, seeing the portraits, crave the minds behind the faces. Within a
breath of completing this sentence, this reviewer with a new overpowering curiosity about WW
I aviation will be requesting review copies of “The LAFAYETTE FLYING CORPS – – The American
Volunteers in the French Air Service in World War I”, “THE CAMEL DRIVERS – – The 17 th Aero
Squadron in World War I”, “ITALIAN ACES OF WORLD WAR I AND THEIR AIRCRAFT – – Roberto
Gentilli, Antonio Iozzi & Paolo Varriale”.

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