KEK’s and Fokkerstaffels – The early German fighter units in 1915-1916

Johan Ryheul

This is the first time that the history of the German Kampfeinsitzer Kommandos, better known as KEKs and the Fokkerstaffels, have been gathered in a book.
Date Published :
March 2015
Publisher :
Fonthill Media
Language:
English
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9781781552230
Pages : 240
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
Stock Status : In stock
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$40.00

Overview
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This is the first time that the history of the German Kampfeinsitzer Kommandos, better known as KEKs and the Fokkerstaffels, have been gathered in a book. The KEKs were the predecessors of the famous Jagdstaffeln or Jastas which would wreck havoc on Allied aircraft over the trenches during the First World War. Aces such as Boelcke, Immelmann, Berthold, Buddecke, Göring, Udet, Frankl, Bernert, Veltjens, Student, von Althaus and Leffers were household names in Germany yet feared and revered by their Allied contemporaries. The KEKs are surrounded with mystery and even today, most of the locations of the airfields have long been forgotten. Remarkably, all airfields were located by the author and mapped in the History of the German KEK and Fokkerstaffels: The Early German Fighter Units in 1915-16. This book not only presents the history of these units and their aces, it also acts as a battlefield guide so the reader can explore these fascinating locations today. Illustrated with over 250 photographs and profiles of the various fighter aircraft they used in battle, this fascinating book takes a journey from Flanders to the Somme, to the Verdun to the Vosges. The author, a First World War One expert who has worked with the BBC and The History Channel, was aided by two battlefield photographers. On a number of occasions, they were able to discover the castles where the German aces slept, ate, celebrated victories and mourned fallen comrades. The book starts with the KEK Vaux, one of the most famous units, which had no less than eight aces who would receive Germany's highest reward for bravery: the Pour le Mérite. It describes in exhaustive detail the lives of these early fighter pilots, their dogfights and encounters with death. To celebrate the anniversary of the First World War in 2014, this is a unique book with unpublished photographs of the period and of the aces.

REVIEWS
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"... looks into the histories of Kampfeinsitzer Kommandos (also known as KEKs) and the Fokkerstaffels (the first of these fighter units), which appeared in 1915-1916. The author presents each of these units, their notable pilots, and the actions that took place over the front as well as the aerodrome locations. Familiar names such as Boelcke, Immelmann, Buddecke, Frankl, Wintgens, von Althaus, Loerzer, and their contemporaries fill the pages along with their “first” actions. The accounting of these early combats is the heart of this work, details of which proffer a foretaste of what was yet to come. The author has taken a great deal of effort to locate where the aerodromes were and provides the reader with a view of their locality using modern maps. It would have been even more valuable had the geographic coordinates been included, though the author does give a descriptive caption of their locations. Reading this work has shown just how widely dispersed these 26 units were; with bases ranging from the Vosges to Flanders there is good reason for the term “Fokker Scourge” having entered in the wartime vocabulary. With over 250 images there is a good visual representation accompanying the text. Ryheul makes clever use of digital imaging technology with a variety of “then and now” composited images. This technique works by combining a 100-year-old photograph with a recent color image of the same view of the locality, thereby creating a sense of connection to the past. The bibliography is useful though the details of the archival research material are not provided and only the institutional name is listed. This book is a good example of the level of study that is being undertaken by a growing group of dedicated researchers and historians; it is a valuable work and one that warrants attention."

- Aerodrome

"a good example of the level of study that is being under taken by a growing group of dedicated researchers and historians. It is a valuable work and one that warrants attention from those interested in the first major war in the air."

- Air Power History, Summer 2016

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