Camel Pilot Supreme (Hardback)
Captain D V Armstrong DFC
Over 170 illustrations, with action paintings in colour by artist Lynn Williams
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In aviation’s pioneering days the best and bravest airmen pushed the boundaries of flight in all dimensions and attitudes. When aeroplanes went to war this exploratory art, now known as aerobatics, was called ‘stunting’ in breezy RFC slang. Initially forbidden as foolhardy, its importance for survival soon became paramount in the life and death mêlées of dogfighting.
But pilots still delighted in the joy and exuberance of aerobatting for its own sake, and they recognized a master of that very special skill in young D’Urban Victor Armstrong, whose displays were nothing short of electrifying. Fluid and dramatic, performed with flair at ultra-low level, his exhibitions left spectators shaking their heads in disbelief. Even a century later his feats – some illustrated here – continue to evoke astonishment in piloting circles.
Until this biography little was known about his wartime experiences, and even less about his South African background. His great value to the authorities lay in his superb handling of the Sopwith Camel, which upon its introduction had taken a heavy toll in fatal trainee accidents. While still on active service he was sent around the units providing vivid proof that, properly handled, the stubby little fighter delivered the key to combat success: unrivalled manoeuvrability. His resultant fame eclipsed his other distinguished role in pioneering night flying and night fighting, an equally vital skill he was also detailed to demonstrate around the squadrons.
In these pages you will find yourself in the cockpit of the F.1 Camel and become acquainted with its rotary engine. You will meet many leading names including Billy Bishop, Cecil Lewis, Norman Macmillan, Robert Smith Barry, and the harum-scarum Three Musketeers from War Birds. Armstrong takes his place alongside them as one of the legendary figures of the first great aerial war.
Author article as featured byAeroplane Monthly, January 2020
This book appealed to me as both an aerobatic instructor and an amateur aviation historian. It is not just the tale of D.V. Armstrong. I learned things about WWI and aviation that were eye openers, and got a peek into how aerobatics developed. This book also makes the case that what we know of as the Immelman Turn maneuver really should be called the Armstrong turn.International Aerobatic Club
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Along with a pilot’s-eye-view of flying WW1 aircraft, Carson gives a wealth of detail about Armstrong’s South African roots and time in the RFC, with many asides of his friendships, his life off the airfield, and eyewitness accounts of his extraordinary skill. It is particularly well illustrated featuring over 170 images including original photographs sourced from Armstrong’s own collection, enlivened with colour paintings by well-known artist Lynn Williams.Flightline Weekly
While some of his contemporaries, like Pierre Van Ryneveld and Quintin Brand were lauded for their later achievements, very little was known of this South African flying hero until Annette Carson published this well researched biography that now allows Captain Armstrong to take his rightful place among the heroes of pioneering flight. A ‘must-read’ for any aviation enthusiast, it looks set to appear on many a Christmas list.
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“Skilfully gives us the background to the units and campaigns in which he served, and gives a masterful description of the development of aerobatics especially as applicable to the Sopwith Camel. Carson has ensured that Armstrong can take his rightful place in aviation history.”Cross & Cockade
"Annette Carson has done a wonderful job of chronicling Armstrong’s life, flight training and ultimate recognition as the undisputed master of aerobatics."Over the Front
Very little is known of this South African flying hero until Annette Carson published this well researched biography that now allows Captain Armstrong to take his rightful place amongst the heroes of pioneering flight. A 'must-read' for any aviation enthusiast.African Pilot
As featured inRoyal Aeronautical Society
Annette Carson, author of 'Flight Fantastic' has been fascinated by the life of D'Urban Victor Armstrong for many years and her research into Armstrong’s life took her to South Africa to discover his roots.Vintage Aircraft Club
As a Sopwith Camel pilot in WW1 Armstrong's life was more than full of challenges and his flying skills second to none. The book takes us behind the scenes into the training aerodromes in England, including Hounslow Heath, and the familiar names of those who he encountered both at home and above the trenches give authenticity to the story.
What is certainly beyond doubt is that Armstrong's stunts and one-man air displays inspired young pilots and certainly worried the enemy! His forte was ultra-low-level aerobatics and onlookers were convinced his wing tip touched the ground during his routine. To have survived the war flying a twitchy aircraft like the Camel is nothing short of amazing and 'Dodge' Bailey's contribution to the narrative bears this out.
The book is well illustrated and there are several paintings included by VAC member and Flitzer designer Lynn Williams. Williams has portrayed Armstrong's well documented signature routine in dramatic style on the book's cover.
Annette is to be commended for her commitment to the study of Armstrong's life resulting in an excellent biography. The book should certainly be included on your Christmas list.
This is the story of a young airman often described as “legendary”, but until now known chiefly from old pilots’ tales, from snatches of fleeting recollection, and from escapades often misremembered. Inspirational, thrilling, and amazing.Books Monthly
Carson balances the drama of Armstrong's amazing and sometimes shocking exploits with a matter-of-fact method of storytelling. The author openly admits, for instance, that little is known of Armstrong's final month of service with 60 Squadron in late 1916, doing so in such a way that the reader is not disappointed. She cannot tell us what is not known.Indy Squadron Dispatch
But she did manage to find a cache of photographs and documents from the First World War depicting Armstrong and his many airplanes. In fact, “Camel Pilot Supreme” is littered with more than one hundred pictures, some of which were found among Armstrong's personal photo collection.
The reader is immediately drawn to the center section of the book which features many of these striking pictures as well as paintings and aircraft color profiles, all on acid free stock. However, once you begin actually reading the book page by page, scores of additional photographs come to light. To say that this book is well illustrated would be an understatement.
With 224 pages packed into a 6.5x9.5” hardcover volume, “Camel Pilot Supreme” is easily transported in a backpack or briefcase. It is perhaps your best chance to know the Sopwith Camel fighter airplane of World War I as intimately as the men who flew it.
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Very highly recommended, and not just to aficionados of 1914-18 aviation.Aeroplane Monthly, December 2019
Armstrong was one of those who mastered his mount and fully exploited all of its capabilities. This made him one of the first great aerobatic pilots, able to make his aircraft perform daring and impossible manoeuvrers. The author has presented this story well, supporting the written text with many images through the body of the book, and included an impressive full colour photo-plate section.Firetrench
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What I can say is that Camel Pilot Supreme has to be the definitive biography of this legendary figure in aviation. It is deeply researched, hugely informative and extensively illustrated, both with a large number of pictures from Armstrong’s own photo album and some outstanding and beautifully reproduced artwork by Lyn Williams. Here is a great contender for Pilot’s book of the year.Phil Whiteman, December edition of Pilot magazine.
This is an impressive title that offers great insight into the operational career of one of WWIs characters and most capable fliers.Scale Modelling Now
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Featured inGreat War July 2019