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Above the Lines
The Aces and Fighter Units of the German Air Service, Naval Air Service and Flanders Marine Corps 1914-1918
by Norman L. R. Franks, Frank W. Bailey, Russell Guest
Hardcover: 259 pages
Dimensions (in inches): 1.32 x 10.02 x 7.16
Publisher: Grub Street the Basement; (January 1994)

"The eagerly awaited sequel to Above the Trenches solidified Grub Street's hold on the WWI aero market. Appearing three years after the monumental survey of British Empire aces, Above the Lines follows the same format with biographies and victory lists of the nearly 400 German aces, including some 20 two-seat pilots and gunners.

With good to excellent photo coverage, this well researched volume includes a broad-based account of German fighter aviation in the Great War as well as short histories of each jagdstaffel (Army and Navy) with aces noted for each. There are nine appendices, including a comprehensive accounting of Manfred von Richthofen's victories. Other lists include balloon shooters, top scorers and top living aces for each month during 1916-1918.

Owing to detailed Allied loss data, it has been possible to verify a great many German claims. Some of the individual confirmations are exceptional: 73 of 80 for Manfred; 46 of 48 for Voss; 29 of Allmenröder's 30, and all of Kurt Wolff's 33. This type of material makes for valuable cross-references, especially when researching British actions.

If the book has a failing, it is the lack of information on aircraft types flown by each pilot for each victory. The authors note that, contrary to RFC/RAF policy, German reports did not always cite the aircraft flown, and a great many records were lost. We can only hope that additional research will fill in some of the gaps. That reservation aside, Above the Lines rates five stars."

Reviewed by Barrett Tillman

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