Osprey Aircraft of the Aces No 45:
British and Empire Aces of WW I by Christopher Shores
reviewed by Volker Hauser
The latest in the Osprey "Aircraft of the Aces" series books on WW I aircraft deals with "British and Empire Aces of WW I". While the Nieuport, Dr I, SPAD VII and Albatros Aces book are all equally good and the American Aces on WW I book at least offers some colorful and not so well known markings, this book just simply does not fall in the same category:
First, while it´s titled *Aircraft* of the Aces, there seem to be more photos (many of the formal variety) of the aces themselves.
Second, the choice of subjects for the 36 color profiles is rather strange: 6 Ni 17 (and later models), but no early Nieuports. Equally there are 6 SPAD VII´s (hardly a typical RFC/RAF aircraft) - this time no later SDAD 13´s (even though admitedly the RFC made even less use of the 13). The rest are mainly SE 5 A´s (most of them well known), with a rather generic 24 Sqadron DH 2 (said to portray Lanoe Haker´s mount, but not showing any serial number), a Ball Bristol Scout (really rare that one), a (unknown to me and for me the best part of the book) DH 5 flown by Woolett, 3 each Camels and Dolphins, and only a single F 2B (the well known McKeever a/c - actually one he never flew in combat). Add to this some other Sopwith´s: 3 Triplanes, a single Pup and a Snipe or 2, and you got the content. While some of the subjects are rare, it is the overall choice where the book lacks - it definitely does not represent a representative collection of RFC and RAF aircraft.
When it comes to the text, it is rather better than the somewhat boring "American Aces" one, but again can not withstand comparison to the other four volumes dealing with aircraft of the Great War. In general, the text also suffers somewhat from the fact that this book just simply overtaxes the size and potential of the "Aircraft of the Aces" Series.
All in all a book that obviously rushed out for some additional Christmas sales, making use of some left over SPAD VII and Nieuport profiles.
My advice: If you collect the series, you will most probably anyway buy this book. If you don´t know much about WW I and the British aces of this period, the book is a nice starting point - you will later on see that there is much more to learn about the subject than can be shown in this book. If you´re a serious fan of WW I models, you might better wait for the books on Camels and other RFC fighters that will undoubtedly follow. Then again, there´s that Woolett DH 5...
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