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Osprey Aircraft of the Aces No. 79


Bristol F2 Aces of
World War 1



Jon Guttman


S u m m a r y

Publisher and Catalogue Details: Osprey Aircraft of the Aces #79 Bristol F2 Aces of  World War 1 by Jon Guttman
ISBN: 9781846032011
Media and Contents: Soft cover, 96 pages
Price: GBP£12.99 online from Osprey Publishing
Review Type: FirstRead
Advantages: Interesting well written text, relevant period photographs, excellent artwork.
Recommendation: Highly Recommended

Reviewed by Rob Baumgartner

Osprey's Bristol F2 Aces of World War 1 is available online from Squadron.com



Most World War I aficionados would be familiar with the likes of Richthofen, McCudden, Baracca and Fonck. It didn’t take long for these single seat “drivers” to grab the public’s attention.

But how many would recognize names such as Atkey, Gurdon, Latimer or McKeever?

These were the top scoring aces of the “Biff”, and each had over 25 victories to their credit. Not to be forgotten are the observers, with such luminaries as Gass, Fletcher, Hayward and Noel also coming to the fore. They too scored heavily with Gass in particular attaining an amazing 39 conquests.

Being two-seater aircraft, the F2A and F2B did not have the glamour of their single seat cousins. Yet their role was no less important in gaining valuable intelligence and harassing the enemy.

This book covers the exploits of the brave men that flew in these machines.

Within the 96 pages the author tells the tales of both front and back seat fliers in a style that is both entertaining and informative. A bonus is the narrative provided by the aircrew themselves which is punctuated throughout the text.

Complimenting this are over 100 period black and white photographs. They are well chosen for their relevance and are accompanied by enlightening captions.

Harry Dempsey does his usual sterling work with the colour profiles and 28 aircraft are represented. Where necessary, plan views are provided to show marking details that are hidden on the main image.

Jon Guttman begins the book by describing the disastrous debut of the F2A.

It was 48 Squadron’s first offensive patrol and it came across Richthofen’s Jasta 11. Four of the six F2As were shot down, the remaining two limping home riddled with bullet holes.

The problem lay not with the aircraft but how it was handled. The pilots were told to adopt the standard two-seater tactic of keeping together to allow the rear gunners to provide mutual protection for each other. This negated the excellent speed and maneuverability of this fighter. When the F2 was used offensively, as if it were a “Scout”, it quickly became a potent weapon.

It wasn’t long before the improved F2B followed and the features of the new arrival are explained along with the reasons for its introduction.

He continues with the fortunes of 48 Sqn, before introducing No 11 Sqn. in chapter two.
The third unit to attain the Bristol fighter was No 22 Sqn and they round out the remainder of this section.

The British system of confirming victories was quite lenient, helped no doubt by most of the victories occurring over enemy territory. Bearing this in mind, No 20 Sqn. can claim to be the highest scoring fighter unit of World War One. Their story is captured in chapter 3.

It wasn’t just reconnaissance duties that occupied the Bristol Fighter. A section on the air superiority duties of Nos 62 and 88 Sqns follows, their role often being the protection of DH 4 and DH 9 aircraft on bombing missions.

The Sqns that operated away from the Western Front round out the book with this area covering Italy, Palestine, and the Middle East.

A handy appendix lists the pilots and observers that became aces as well as their totals obtained in other aircraft types. This is cross referenced to the serial numbers of the Biffs they used for these accomplishments…a handy guide for modelers.

To give the reader a better impression of what the machine looked like, a set of 1:48 scale general arrangement drawings are also included.





Two-seater aircrew are not often though of as being aces, this being reserved for their more famous single seat brethren.

Jon Guttman brings these forgotten airmen to life and gives the reader a real appreciation of the courage and bravery they displayed. The research is first class and is presented in a package that will delight all enthusiasts of World War I warfare.

Highly Recommended

Thanks to Osprey Publishing for the review sample

Review Copyright © 2007 by Rob Baumgartner
Page Created 08 November, 2007
Last updated 24 December, 2007

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