Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Oswald Boelcke
reviewed by Terrence Finnegan


Oswald Boelcke: Germany's First Fighter Ace and Father of Air Combat

by R. G. Head, Brigadier General, USAF
Grub Street, 2016

Oswald Boelcke and His Eindecker Group

General Head's background in aviation serves as the impetus for understanding the contribution of Hauptmann Oswald Boelcke's important legacy for World War I aviation. Head's distinguished U.S. Air Force career involved flying several combat aircraft and included several assignments in Vietnam. His work on Boelcke reflects insight on the challenges of aviation of the era and how aerial combat assumed a definitive role thanks to Boelcke's leadership and legacy.

The book is a leisure read. Insights on aviators from the Western Front help describe the environment that Boelcke was in, including training, the physical environment endured while flying, impact on health and well-being, and the rewards associated with combat aviation.

The formation of Germany's air service is also addressed. The author interweaves Boelcke's life throughout the book. Information on aeroplanes is covered in detail, particularly the Albatros series of fighter airplanes

Most important in this work is discussion of Boelcke's Dicta, the foundation of German fighter tactics that still apply in the present day. Boelcke's concept of grouping pursuit into squadrons and employing them in squadron formation flying reflected higher effectiveness and protection when flying together under the lead of an expert squadron commander.

Display at the Museum of Flight

Terrence Finnegan

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