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Old 4 March 2012, 03:07 PM   #1
Felix C
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RICHTHOFEN JAGDSTAFFEL AHEAD: RFC Pilots Out-Performed and Out-Gunned etc etc

RICHTHOFEN JAGDSTAFFEL AHEAD: RFC Pilots Out-Performed and Out-Gunned over the Western Front, 1917

Have a chance to purchase cheap at $9.95. Worth it?
One Amazon review indicates only for the pics.
Could not find a review here.
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Old 4 March 2012, 04:47 PM   #2
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I'd say, yes, it's worth it for the photos. The author had access to a terrific collection of rare photos, but they are poorly captioned and one or two are repeated. However, it's worth 9.95, in my opinion.

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Old 10 March 2012, 01:51 PM   #3
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A review of the book

FWIW, here's the review of McManus' book as it appeared in the Summer 2009 issue of Over the Front:

Richthofen Jagdstaffel Ahead – RFC Pilots Out-Performed and Out-gunned over the Western Front, 1917 by Peter McManus with color artwork by John Batchelor, Grub Street, London, 2008; 192 pp., 7½" x 10½", hardcover, well illustrated with black & white photos and illustrations and color plates, appendices, bibliography, index; ISBN 978-1-906502-00-3; £20.00 (UK) / $39.95 (US); distributed in the USA by Casemate, Drexel Hill, PA.

Another volume inspired by original World War I source material is this account of the life and flying career of Lionel Bruce Blaxland. Despite the title, Richthofen Jagdstaffel Ahead is not about Manfred von Richthofen and/or Jagdstaffel 11 – although, while flying with No. 40 Squadron, RFC, Blaxland encountered the celebrated German unit in aerial combat. Rather, the book is centered on Blaxland’s World War I photo albums and log book, as well as McManus’ interviews with the pilot.

Related in a casual and unfortunately undocumented style, the book touches very broadly on wartime aerial operations. In addition to interviews with Blaxland, McManus includes lightly detailed nuggets about various people. For example, the account of Peter Wylie Smith’s experience with No. 40 Squadron’s Nieuport aircraft leaves the reader hungry for more information about how the pilot “never managed to master the Nieuport’s propensity to spin yet, somehow, was always able to pull out and survive until finally his luck ran out and he spun from 10,000 feet right into the ground. Almost every bone in his body was broken, one eye was missing and his thumb torn off … but, incredibly, he survived and, even more incredibly, he was flying again within a year.”

Mostly, this book is a showcase for the Blaxland photos – including what surely must be unique views of Edward (“Mick”) Mannock’s early days as a fighter pilot. Those and other views are presented in a tasteful “yellowing” sepia tone that is reminiscent of how they must look in Blaxland’s album. Regrettably, two photos are needlessly repeated and two other views of an “unidentified single-seat fighter” turn out to show Sopwith 1F.1 Camel H.797 from Blaxland’s later service with No. 61 Squadron.

The visual treat of the Blaxland photos and (despite a misidentification of a color rendering of Werner Voss’ Albatros D.III) John Batchelor’s fine artwork are what make this book of interest.

-- P.K.
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Old 13 March 2012, 04:16 PM   #4
Felix C
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Thank you everyone. I passed on this book. Several copies are available from Edward R. Hamilton if anyone is interested. I prefer text to illustrations.

Last edited by Felix C; 14 March 2012 at 06:39 AM.
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Old 14 March 2012, 03:06 AM   #5
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An interesting book, but as Greg says, for the price the pictures are great. Other than that - a group of things miss identified.


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