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Pioneers of Aerial Combat (Paperback)

Air Battles of the First World War

Aviation > WWI WWI

By Michael Foley
Imprint: Pen & Sword Aviation
Pages: 192
Illustrations: 100 black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781399074957
Published: 5th May 2023



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When the Wright Brothers made their first flight in the early years of the twentieth century it sparked the imagination of those who wanted to fly, both in their country and around the world. In Britain, however, the spark wasn't strong enough to light a fire and it was in other parts of Europe, notably France, where flight began to develop seriously.

Early pioneers of flight faced a high level of danger and many died in pursuit of fulfilling their dream. Although aircraft design had made incredible progress by the time of the outbreak of war, accidents still occurred on a regular basis. For some time, as many pilots died in accidents as they did in combat.

This publication consolidates a range of stories, insights, and facts that, when combined, offer a vivid impression of events as they unfolded. The chaos stirred up during the First World War and the scramble to develop aircraft in response to the threat to homeland security is eloquently relayed, as are the battles that characterized this conflicted era. The reality of conflict gave aviation engineers and designers the opportunity to test their craft in the harshest of environments, pushing the benchmark ever higher in terms of what could be achieved. Sure to appeal to aviation enthusiasts and historians alike, this work offers the reader a full account of the developmental early days of flight.

As featured in

Cher Ami, GWSIG Newsletter – International Plastic Modellers Society (UK) – April 2023

As featured by

Barking and Dageham Post, 18th December 2019

This handsomely bound overview with its eye-catching dust jacket, is recommended to people interested in early British aviation history.

Over the Front

This short book manages to pack a lot of history of early flight into a small package. Foley takes us on a journey from the earliest origins of powered manned flight, through early military uses, to the early post First World War developments.

Michael Foley has a background in writing both local and military history. It is reflected in the quality of writing and research. in the appendices as they detail the First World War airfields, early aircraft manufacturers, and aviation museums and collections in the UK. The bibliography also gives evidence of wide and appropriate research.

Overall, a good read, and a book that any aviation enthusiast should be glad to receive.


For some time the ratio of pilots killed in action to accidents was on parity. This volume outlines the lives of these heroic fighters / aviators and it consolidates a range of stories about them and their activities. The author has drawn on many recorded stories, insights and facts, that when combined reveal a vivid impression of the aerial battlefield.

Overall this is a nice easy to read and enjoyable tome. It concentrates on the early years of flight and how these early craft were turned into combat vehicles. It deserves to be read by anyone who has an interest in these early years of aerial combat and the author deserves congratulations on a job well done.

Military Archive Research

The author delivers a detailed, engaging and comprehensive description of aerial combat through World War One. The combination of a fine text, well chosen photographs, useful appendices and comprehensive index, make this book of considerable value to military historians and enthusiasts.

Aviation News Incorporating Classic Aircraft
 Michael Foley

About Michael Foley

Michael Foley developed his interest in railways after training to be a guard on goods trains. He later qualified as a teacher and spent much of his teaching career in primary schools in the East End of London. After leaving teaching to become a full-time carer to his twin grandsons, who were severely disabled, he began to write seriously for the first time. Since then he has had more than thirty local and military history books published. He has contributed numerous articles to magazines such as Best of British, This England, Essex Life and Britain at War. He has also had short stories published in My Weekly magazine. In recent years, he has written a weekly football column for the Havering Post and a weekly local history column for the Dagenham Post. He lives in Romford with his wife and grandson.

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