Osprey Aircraft of the Aces No 52:

Sopwith Camel Aces of World War I

by Norman Franks

reviewed by John Impenna

 

As with all of the Norman Franks authored titles in this series that I have read, this book looks like another winner. While some of the photos will be familiar to "PC-10" and Camel addicts, many are new to me. A nice selection of the not-too-often seen Camels is chosen for the profile section, which is very well done. Although not specifically stated, this book only concerns the F.1. There are no profiles on the 2F.1 or the "Comic" Camel. Hopefully, this will be covered by a later title!

The 40 profiles include the mandatory Camels flown by Brown (B7270) and Barker (B6313), but also include one of McClaren's Camels, F2137, in which he scored his last nine victories. Captain Donald McClaren CFC
was the most successful Camel pilot of WW1 with 54 confirmed victories in the type. The rest of the profiles include Captain John Gilmour's D8118 of 65 Squadron, Captain HW Woollett's D6402 of 43 Squadron, and Captain Arthur H. Cobby's E1416 of No. 4 Squadron AFC. Most of the highest scoring Camel pilots are covered in the profiles. A nice surprise was Raymond Collishaw's D3417 when he was CO of 203 Squadron during the summer of 1918. Only 2 USAS Camels are covered, but they are not the "same" USAS
Camels that are seen everywhere else! Also, USAS Camels are covered fairly well in "Aircraft of the Aces #42:American Aces of WW1". Also included are 4 Camels from No. 10 Naval Squadrons. This squadron is a personal favorite of mine. It shows the scheme of "B" Flight's B6299 with the "revised" scheme of white and red stripes continuing completely around the cowl and extending over the "hump" and back beyond the cockpit, covering the entire top decking. Many feel that this is the correct scheme.

The text is well-written and includes very interesting profiles of the covered pilots. I think it more than satisfies its "Aces" title as it covers the pilots and there actions. The photos are also very good choices as many are new to me. The Appendices include the high-scoring Camel pilots as well as the highest-scoring airframes. The GA's are okay, though very sparse. However, there are many well-detailed technical sources on the Camel readily available. I like the Aces Series because that is what they cover and for the most part, cover them very well.

I'd rate this as an "A-". A must-have for a Camel enthusiast who may be looking for some different schemes to add to their collection. Considering the amount of information on this plane that is readily available, this book is a very nice addition to ones reference library.



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