Oswald Boelcke

Germany's First Fighter Ace and Father of Air Combat

RG Head

Oswald Boelcke was Germany's first ace with a total of forty victories. His character, organizational genius, and impact on aerial doctrine are all reasons why Boelcke remains an important figure in air warfare. Paving the way for modern air forces with his pioneering tactics, Boelcke had a dramatic effect on his contemporaries. The fact that he wa
Date Published :
August 2019
Publisher :
Grub Street Publishing
Illustration :
illustrated throughout
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Paperback
ISBN : 9781911621423
Pages : 240
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
Stock Status : In stock
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Oswald Boelcke was Germany’s first ace in World War One with a total of forty victories. His character, inspirational leadership, organizational genius, development of air-to-air tactics and impact on aerial doctrine are all reasons why Boelcke remains an important figure in the history of air warfare.

Paving the way for modern air forces across the world with his pioneering tactics, Boelcke had a dramatic effect on his contemporaries. The fact that he was the Red Baron’s mentor, instructor, squadron commander and friend demonstrates the influence he had upon the German air force. He was one of the first pilots to be awarded the famous Pour le Mérite commonly recognized as the ‘Blue Max’. All of this was achieved after overcoming medical obstacles in his childhood and later life with a willpower and determination.

Boelcke even gained the admiration of his enemies. After his tragic death in a midair collision, the Royal Flying Corps dropped a wreath on his funeral, and several of his victims sent another wreath from their German prison camp. His name and legacy of leadership and inspiration live on, as seen in the Luftwaffe’s designation of the Tactical Air Force Wing 31 ‘Boelcke’.

In this definitive biography RG Head explores why Oswald Boelcke deserves consideration as the most important fighter pilot of the 20th century and beyond; but also for setting the standard in military aviation flying. This book will appeal to enthusiasts of the German air force, military aviation in general and World War One in particular.

About The Author

Brigadier General RG Head, a graduate of the USAF Academy, was one of the first fighter pilots in Vietnam and flew over 325 combat missions during his military career. This earned him the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross and thirteen Air Medals. He also commanded the 90th Tactical Fighter Squadron in the Philippines and when promoted to brigadier general served in Italy as deputy commander of 5 ATAF and the Air Staff. Oswald Boelcke is RG’s first book for Grub Street and will be available in German translation soon.


"This new biography by RG Head is a mixture of reverence and analysis. The author sets out to underline the importance of Boelcke to the history of air warfare while attempting to show us the man. Discovering anything in depth about him is not the easiest task, despite the existence of contemporary biographies written just after his death and other material to draw upon...Mr. Head’s book is crammed with facts and impressions. It is written almost in a conversational style as if he was giving a talk over a decent gin and tonic to a few chums in a cosy bar. He digresses at times and repeats a few details, but the effect is to make the book feel very much that it is aimed directly at you, the reader. The author has written all this just for you... The author loves his subject matter and this shines through his writing. This book honours Oswald Boelcke. While I wouldn’t hope for anything less, there is never a cast iron guarantee it would work out like that. Thankfully, RG Head has achieved what he set out to do. Other Great War fighter pilot books will be much more dry and perhaps more disciplined. This one seems very personal and the style and presentation works. Oswald Boelcke would probably read it with a wry smile. Not because he is still famous, but because he got things right and his dicta have survived the test of time. He really was the father of air combat."

- Mark Barnes, War History Online

"This fascinating volume by RG Head - BG, USAF ret, Lifetime River Rat, SEA veteran: A-1/Bien Hoa/1965; F-4/Udorn/1973 - captures combat aviation at its inception: no rules, little structure, minimal training, rapid changes of equipment; the only constants were courage and chaos."

- MiG Sweep: The Magazine of Aviation Warriors

"… a good book about his person, his character, his profound appeal and his extraordinary importance until today, you should grab this book.As a former fighter pilot and Brigadier, R.G. Head wrote a multifaceted and vivid, never discursive analysis, which shows why Boelcke was the most significant military pilot of the 20th century and how he developed tactics, techniques and procedures, not only for German military aviation. Absolutely recommended!”

- Flugzeug Classic

"...unique since it was written by a fighter pilot looking very specifically at Oswald Boelcke. The author also dedicated this book to the cadets of the USAF Academy."

- Flieger Blatt, The Magazine of the German Military Aviators Association, No. 5

"…a most interesting book, far more than a biography, addresses the strategic and tactical doctrines for the employment of air power during the period 1914-1916 and the development of the aircraft as a weapon with particular reference to the German Albatross series of fighters...highly recommend this book to all with interest in the First World War in the Air.

- PropSwing

"It was a pleasure reading the book which, in my opinion, is not only a biography of Oswald Boelcke but also an interesting, good description of air war events in both WW 1 and 2; a more than complete recompilation of air combat statistics and in a way a text book for beginner pilots of air combat and even experienced ‘top guns’.”

- Axel Boelcke, Nephew of Oswald Boelcke

"A fascinating read, this biography is drawn from Boelcke’s personal letters to his parents and German Air Service documents. This book is a must for all who have an interest in aviation and particularly WWI."

- Daedalus Flyer

“This is one of the finest overall life stories of any combat pilot I’ve read, and I’m sure that you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.”

- The Military Advisor, Fall 2017

"Head’s book deserves the praise it receives."

- Air Power History

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