Eyes All Over the Sky

Aerial Reconnaissance in the First World War

James Streckfuss

After the first successful flight by the Wright brothers in 1903, the age of aviation was born, and by 1910 army commanders in the United States and Europe began ordering aircraft and experimenting with them. But at the outbreak of World War I in 1914, no-one could yet possibly know how significant a role they would play in the fighting. Aerial rec
Date Published :
July 2016
Publisher :
Casemate
Language:
English
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Hardback
ISBN : 9781612003672
Pages : 240
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
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+
In stock
$32.95

Overview
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After the first successful flight by the Wright brothers in 1903, the age of aviation was born, and by 1910 army commanders in the United States and Europe began ordering aircraft and experimenting with them. But at the outbreak of World War I in 1914, no-one could yet possibly know how significant a role they would play in the fighting. Aerial reconnaissance, observation and photography impacted the fighting in many ways, but little has been written about it. Balloons and airplanes regulated artillery fire, infantry liaison aircraft followed attacking troops and the retreats of defenders, aerial photographers aided operational planners and provided the data for perpetually updated maps, and naval airplanes, airships, and balloons acted as aerial sentinels in a complex anti-submarine warfare organization. Reconnaissance crews at the Battles of the Marne and Tannenberg averted disaster. The story told here involves the early American Lafayette Escadrille pilots who were looking for heroic deeds and romantic adventure in aerial combat, as well as the German, British and French aces of popular imagination. But the real value of military aviation lay elsewhere; balloonists, unsung heroes, were an essential part of the observation chain, and forever altered the nature of artillery operations. Observation spotters from planes further enhanced the benefit of being able to extend the target range well out of the line of sight and direct artillery fire, though communicating information was far from easy and systems from weighted message bags through light flashes, smoke signals and wireless messages were tried and honed. Eyes All Over the Sky fully explores all the aspects of aerial reconnaissance, and its previously under-appreciated significance. Also included are the individual experiences of British, American and German airmen; true pioneers of aviation warfare.

About The Author
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James Streckfuss has been researching WWI aviation history for nearly fifty years. He is a founder of the League of World War I Aviation Historians and a long-standing editor of its leading journal Over the Front, as well as President of the League for eleven years. He has edited and contributed to several books on aviation history and holds a PhD from the University of Cincinnati, Ohio.

TABLE OF CONTENTS
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List of Maps
Acknowledgement
Note on Sources and Terms
Abbreviations

Introduction

1 Desire and Capacity Lock Horns
2 Th e Fighter Pilot Mystique
3 Th e Forgotten Air Service
4 “Art. Obs.”: Spotting for the Army’s Big Guns
5 Infantry Liaison: Keeping Track of the Attack
6 “Two Men and a Darkroom under the Stairs”: Aerial Reconnaissance and Aerial Photography
7 Th e Air War over the Sea
8 Aerial Reconnaissance v. Air Power: Turning the Air Service into the Air Force
9 Conclusion: The Memory and Impact of Aerial Reconnaissance in the First World War

Bibliography
Notes
Index

REVIEWS
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"...an important book... provides some fascinating insights into why the aerial reconnaissance aircraft ended up taking a back seat to the fighters and bombers in the minds of the public during the war and in the publications of aviation historians in the century since... insightfully points out that this has created a situation in the writing of history that often made it appear that the air war conducted by fighters and bombers was completely independent from the ground war—a false and even absurd conclusion. Much of the value of Eyes All Over the Sky comes from the fact that Streckfuss covers the entire air war—not just landplanes, but also naval aircraft and balloons. Including the latter provides an eye-opening perspective on what was really important to the nations that invested huge amounts of scarce resources to create their air services. This well-researched history belongs on the shelf of anyone with a serious interest in the air war or the ground war of 1914-1918."

- Steve Suddaby, past president of the World War One Historical Association

"The author has really done his homework, as evidenced by a 13-page bibliography, but the wealth of information provided is quite easily digested.”"

- Cross and Cockade

"Jim Streckfuss’ in-depth study of aerial reconnaissance is the product of thorough research in American, British, French and German archival and other sources, as attested by 51 pages of verification and clarification notes. This volume is well illustrated with black & white photos and maps, and is presented in an interesting and readable text. Eyes all over the Sky - Aerial Reconnaissance in the First World War is a fine book and recommended highly."

- Over the Front

"...well researched...a nicely presented reminder of the importance of aerial reconnaissance during WWI..."

- Aviation History

"Recommended."

- The RAF Historical Journal

“With an interesting selection of photos, the book is not only an excellent reference - it is historically important.”

- Classic Wings

“The book is a useful and affordable addition to the literature...makes an effective case for the value of the aerial gathering of intelligence.”

- Aerospace

“This is not only a good book, it’s an important book. Streckfuss argues convincingly that the least-studied segment of WW1 aviation, aerial reconnaissance, was also the most important… This well-researched history belongs on the shelf of anyone with a serious interest in the air war or the ground war of 1914-1918.”

- World War One Illustrated, Summer 2018

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