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Sopwith Camels over Italy 1917-1918

Sopwith Camels over Italy 1917-1918

Norman Franks
ARRSE Rating
5 Mushroom Heads
Images of War: Sopwith Camels over Italy 1917-1918

While most of us are familiar with the Great War on the Western front, names like the Somme, Passchendaele, and Verdun, other areas of conflict are less well known about, Gallipoli and the the middle east for instance, although a few films have brought them into the public eye.

The Italian Campaign however is little remarked upon, the Austro Hungarians having been at war with the Italians from 1915. A great many of the battles took place high up in the mountains and the troops were well disciplined in this form of warfare. Even Lake Garda was in the forefront of the battle but that withered out very quickly, however the Austro Hungarians soon obtained reinforcements from Germany of 7 divisions, 540 guns 216 mortars and around 100 aircraft.

While the troops and artillery took time to move over difficult ground, air warfare allowed the Germans to extend their reach over a much wider area and the very real possibility of winning the battle.

To counter this probability the French and the British sent three Squadrons of Sopwith Camels and a Squadron of RE8 Reconnaissance aircraft aircraft and crews to northern Italy to fight against the German air force.

Many of these pilots had already experienced air warfare in France and Belgium, where the land is reasonably flat and the battle lines stayed fixed. Moving to Italy they had to learn new skills, flying much higher, loss of power at altitude, and coping with the weather conditions unique to that area.

The book is well laid out and easy to follow over 5 chapters as it illustrates the build up to the battles and then each battle in focus; superb high quality images showing the aircraft of both sides, and many of the crashed ones, taken by either side, illustrate how frail these machines were; portraits of young men standing by their machines looking relaxed give us a window on another more innocent age.

Norman Franks' excellent book covering some 103 pages and over rare 100 images really brings to life an otherwise little known area of the Great War. For the images alone the book is worth buying, and any modeller or historian would learn much of use from these pages.

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