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Gunning for the Red Baron

Gunning for the Red Baron
Leon Bennett
College Station : Texas A&M University Press, 2006
D600 .B45 2006

When good aim means life or death...

The daring air aces of World War I faced more than the enemy when they took to the sky; they faced the odds. Their chances of being hit were high; the odds of their hitting the enemy were low. One pilot, French Captain Albert Moris, reported 400 hits to his aircraft in his 253 hours of flying, a little more than a hit an hour.

Even the most maneuverable of the British fighters, the Sopwith Camel, lost as many machines as its pilots shot down. Pilots flying Camels rang up 1,294 victories, but 1,500 machines were lost to accidents and enemy fire, and many Camel pilots died within weeks of entering combat.

Through it all, until April 1918, the German ace known as the Red Barron flew, fought, and thrived. Was it luck or skill that sustained him? Gunning for the Red Baron gives the lowdown on why it was so hard to score a hit, what qualities helped the aces succeed, and the weapons and planes that were celebrated in the air war to end wars. Most basically, this richly illustrated book explains why aim was so notoriously bad.

Drawing on his army service at the Ballistics Research lab, data from London's Public Records Office, and careful study of Great War technology, author Leon Bennett analyzes combat sequences, the arts of aerial gunnery, and the weapons themselves. His detailed insight into the mechanisms of air warfare allows him to reach some startling conclusions about one of the enduring controversies of World War I: what finally brought the Red Baron down.

Quoted from dustjacket.