Book Review: Sopwith Camel Vs Fokker DR1 – Western Front 1917-18

Steve Budd submitted this fine review of one of Osprey’s “Versus” titles, this one from the World War I time period. I have several from World War II, and like Steve, find them very useful.

Osprey continue their successful run of military aviation titles with this excellent ‘ Dog fight double’ publication, that looks in some detail at two of the most famous aircraft to take to the skies during World War One.

Interspersed among the text are period photographs and superb illustrations, comprising three view colour plates, as well as detailed colour cockpit paintings and a two page aerial battle scene from aviation artists Harry Dempsey, Jim Laurier and Postlethwaite.

Nine chapters of highly readable prose cover an introduction to the subject matter and then take the reader progressively through the chronology, design and development, technical specifications, the strategic situation, the combatants, combat, statistics and analysis and the aftermath of the struggle between these distinctive aircraft. The book, totalling 80 pages, concludes with a further reading list and an index.

This title and others like it in the series, are perfect complementary reads to the ‘Aircraft of the Aces’ releases, also published by Osprey. The book is highly recommended, even if you do not regard this as your favorite period of aviation history. Guttman’s handling of the material is excellent in providing a rounded appreciation for how each aircraft came into being, as well as their respective strengths and weaknesses in the cauldron of combat.

However, an aircraft is useless without a pilot and Guttman’s technical and strategic study is constantly woven into the colourful lives and eventful careers of the men who fought each other, often to the death. It is the human element of war that is the most compelling and any purchaser of this title will be rewarded with a greater understanding of what it was like to fly a machine, separated from enemy bullets by little more than fabric and wood.

Highly recommended.

Title: Sopwith Camel Vs Fokker DR1 – Western Front 1917-18
Author: Jon Guttman
Publisher: Osprey Publishing
Price: US$16.16 (from Squadron.com)