The skies over Europe during World War I saw a uniquely modern contest for tactical and technological supremacy. Each new strategy or invention by the Allies or Central Powers quickly brought a deadly response from the other. Each innovation was tested in the air by combat pilots who were gambling with their lives. At times with a life expectancy of only 21 flying days, the pilots became the most enduring legend of the War.Eric and Jane Lawson present a unique treatment of the air actions of World War I as a single grand campaign, with the balance of power shifting back and forth with each new weapon or tactic.World War I broke out in August 1914, only 11 years after the Wright brothers' first airplane flight. The warring nations assembled makeshift air forces of civilian aircraft flown by amateur pilots, largely for reconnaissance purposes.By the end of 1915 haphazard observation, hand-dropped bombs, and pilots occasionally shooting at each other with carbines and begun to give way to specialized air squadrons, specially designed aircraft, bomb racks, aerial cameras and mounted machine guns.By war's end long-range bombing, rudimentary aircraft carriers, rocket - and cannon - armed planes, radios, ground-attach tactics, and other features of modern warfare had made an appearance. Eric and Jane Lawson maintain focus on the human dimension of the conflict. The most important commanders and pilots are examined, as well as groundbreaking coverage of the first African-American combat pilot, the first women to fly military missions, and Fiorello LaGuardia's days as an Italian bombardier. Billy Mitchell's image as an advocate of air power is balanced with a detailed account of his role in the St. Mihiel offensive, in which he assembled the war's largest air armada, made up of American, British, French, and even Italian aircraft. The First Air Campaign features a fast paced narrative supplemented by detailed information on unit organization and aircraft performance and innovated new maps illustrating the first attempts to apply the principles of war to aerial maneuver. Also included are unique war-time photographs, some not seen in 75 years, and specially-prepared charts, available nowhere else, graphically portraying the ever-changing balance of air power throughout the war.
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Eric Lawson has contributed several early aviation articles to magazines. He lives in Massachusetts. Jane Lawson has contributed several early aviation articles to magazines. She lives in Massachusetts.
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