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The Camel Drivers: The 17th Aero Squadron in World War I (Schiffer Military/Aviation History) Hardcover – January 1, 2004


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The Camel Drivers: The 17th Aero Squadron in World War I (Schiffer Military/Aviation History) + First to the Front: The Aerial Adventures of 1st Lt. Waldo Heinrichs and the 95th Aero Squadron 1917-1918 (Schiffer Military History)
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Product Details

  • Series: Schiffer Military/Aviation History
  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Schiffer Publishing, Ltd. (January 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0764300717
  • ISBN-13: 978-0764300714
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 9 x 11.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,218,429 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Michael OConnor TOP 500 REVIEWER on September 7, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The 17th Aero Squadron had a unique WWI combat career. Although part of the U.S. 1st Pursuit Group, the 17th was one of two units transferred to British command. Instead of flying SE-5s, which the pilots had trained on, the 17th found themselves equipped with under-powered and tricky-to-fly Sopwith Camels. Once committed to combat, the 17th took some heavy losses but pressed on till war's end. The warts-and-all story of the 17th Aero Squadron is engagingly told in this in-depth 1996 volume from Schiffer Publishing.

The 17th's first combat came on 7 July 1918, an inconclusive scrap with Fokker D-7s. The green Americans suffered losses to the experienced German fliers and to ground fire since the squadron was to fly many ground-attack missions throughout its career. Victories were few although pilots such as Lloyd Hamilton, Bob Todd and Bill Tipton began running up scores that would eventually lead to acedom. In August the squadron was transferred to a more active front where the 17th faced some of Germany's top fighter wings. Disaster struck in short order. Within six weeks 18 pilots were lost including flight and deputy commanders and several aces. Replacements were brought in but the squadron was often hard-pressed to "do its duty," especially given the increasing number of hazardous ground-attack missions that came its way. Near war's end, the 17th was transferred back to U.S. command but saw no further combat before the Armistice.

Rarely has a unit history offered the depth of coverage of the Reed and Roland book. Along with recounting the squadron's combats, the book gives an unparalleled, insider's look at the pilots and groundcrew. You really get to know Tood, Hamilton, Sam Eckert, Howard Knotts, Mert Campbell and the others as living, breathing HUMAN BEINGS.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mark Thrice on November 2, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Before I go further, I will tell you that Otis Reed is my father and I knew Mr. Roland, too.

When my father was a boy in Weston, West Virginia, a local mailman was known to have been a 17th Aero Squadron fighter pilot -- and the public library was donated to the town by the mother of Louis Bennett, an ace pilot in the squadron.

This created in my father's mind a curiosity about a group of men who flew into combat in open bi-planes. The difficulties of flying a Sopwith Camel were many. The Squadron suffered such losses that the last to enter its ranks mere months after fighting began met few of the men who were its first members. My father's own experience as a tail gunner in the Korean War and his employment at Boeing Aircraft must have sharpened his regard for the brave flyers of the cutting edge of air warfare.

I remember how he and Mr. Roland began to go to 17th Aero Squadron reunions. They set up their traveling photographic copying board and collected images. They interviewed members of the squadron, often just a short time before these pilots passed away. My father researched personal documents and public records. This book is the work of years and I know my father's standards of history writing were very strict.

Though I proofread the book before publication, I cannot claim much knowledge about WWI air warfare. My impression of the book was that Dad delved deeply into the lives of these men and created an multi-leveled record of their time in the air.

So, perhaps this is not a review, but a sort of literary mash note. My father died this past May and I am buying a copy of Camel Drivers for The Mountaineer Military Museum, a wonderful museum here in Weston, West Virginia. Seeing my Dad's book on Amazon moved me to write this piece. I hope that it is of some help to those looking for books.
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The Camel Drivers: The 17th Aero Squadron in World War I (Schiffer Military/Aviation History)
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