Austro-Hungarian Albatros Aces of World War I

Published: January 29th, 2013     
Cover
Cover
Author: Paolo Varriale
Reviewed by: Brian R. Baker - IPMS# 43146
ISBN #: 978-1-84908-748-3
Other Publication Information: Softcover, 96 pages, 85 black and white photos, 36 color drawings, numerous charts
Price: $22.95
Product / Stock #: Aircraft of the Aces 110
Product provided by: Osprey Publishing

History

The Austro-Hungarian Army Air Service operated various types of aircraft during their combat operations against the Italians, Russians, Rumanians, and Albanians, and for the most part their equipment was not particularly state-of-the-art. On the Italian side, while some Italian designs were used, many of the aircraft they faced were the latest designs from France and Britain, some flown by British pilots. The Austrians never had adequate resources to prosecute the war in the first place as their aviation industry had been neglected before the war, resulting in only limited successes. They operated on a shoestring and did remarkably well, considering their limited resources.

However, the Germans provided the Austrians with a number of modern Albatros D.II and D.III fighters, and also licensed the production of the D.III by Oeffag, an Austrian firm. The Oeffag D.III product was somewhat redesigned, which resulted in a plane that was stronger and better-performing that their German counterparts. A total of 49 pilots became aces flying the 586 Oeffag-built Albatros D.III fighters produced in Austria during the war.

For the modeler, the Oeffag-produced Albatros differed from the German version in the contours of the cowling, while other Albatros fighters simply flew without spinners. Building a model of one of these aircraft should be easy, either using one of the Eastern European kits currently in production or using an older Airfix or Revell kit, at least in 1/72 scale.

The Book

This book relates the story of the Austrian pilots who managed, given their disadvantages, to score victories against enemy aircraft during the course of the war. It begins by giving the backgrounds of the conflict, along with the organizational and technological challenges the Austrians faced. The author provides a lot of statistical data, including orders of battle at particular times during the war, along with general accounts of the military campaigns and their impact on the air war. Each regional conflict is treated separately, and a very interesting chapter involves the aftermath, describing what happened to some of these individuals postwar. As Austria-Hungary was broken up after the war, many of these pilots wound up in Germany, Hungary, Poland, and other countries, where they pursued aviation or other careers. A few even became members of the Luftwaffe at the beginning of World War II.

The author includes color profile drawings of 28 Albatros D.III fighters flown at various times by Austro-Hungarian aces. Four plan views are included, and there are extensive descriptions of these aircraft in the end listing. The modeler should find a wealth of information on a subject that has not been well covered to date. My only disappointment was that the author mentions a replica Albatros D.II being build and flown in Germany, but neglected to provide a photo of it in the book. Nor are there any line drawings of the aircraft, as there are in other Osprey books, although the color drawings provide enough information of modelers.

Recommendation

For anyone interested in aviation during World War I, this book fills an important gap in the coverage of that conflict. It follows the usual high quality we have come to expect from Osprey, and is certainly worth having. Highly recommended.

Thanks to Osprey Publishing and IPNMS/USA for the review sample and the hours of reading enjoyment.

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