British Empire Books

Early Aircraft Armament

AuthorHarry Woodman
PublisherArms and Armour Press
ISBN No.0853689903

"Opinions varied amongst the airmen about what kind of armament was needed, what was effective and what was not: some preferred greater firepower, others greater speed or manoeuverability; some loaded their aeroplanes with two or three times the number of guns for which they were designed and others carried the minimum."

Lewis Mk 1
Lewis Gun
Books about this relatively obscure topic are pretty thin on the ground. This book, therefore, is a welcome addition to what was a truly fascinating period of technological development. If ever the idiom 'necessity is the mother of invention' were true, then the advances in aeronautical warfare during World War I must rank as the most innovative of all inventions. It seems churlish to claim that good could come from such a monstrous war as The Great War, and yet it is difficult to see how the plane would have developed so quickly and efficiently as it did during this conflict. Both sides looked at every conceivable way of getting that tiny competitive advantage that would allow their pilots to be victorious over the enemies'. And yet, whenever such an advance was made, the other side promptly copied and attempted to improve on the idea. The synchronised machine gun is a case in point. No sooner had the Germans fitted this extraordinary device on what was a rather mediocre plane, the Allies promptly through everything at the planes in order to shoot one down and get hold of the firing mechanism. Within months they had synchronisation systems of their own.

This book cuts across all the major protagonists of the war. It does have a sizeable section on the armaments of the British and Imperial forces, but this would only amount to a small proportion of the whole book itself. There are lots of pictures and illustrations provided to help you see for yourself the advances and equipment described in the text. The style of writing is clear and concise but obviously specialised in content. If you want to know more about this particular aspect of technological innovation and application then this is a fine starting place.

Buy this book at: Amazon

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by Stephen Luscombe