British Fighter Aircraft in WWI

Design, Construction and Innovation

Mark C. Wilkins

Fully illustrated account of how British aircraft manufacturers vied to create the best fighter to counter German technology during World War I.
Publication date:
April 2021
Publisher :
Casemate Publishers
Series :
Casemate Illustrated Special
Illustration :
250 photos, profiles, and diagrams
Format Available     Quantity Price
ISBN : 9781612008813

Dimensions : 254 X 203 mm
In Stock
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• Packed with hundreds of period photographs of aircraft and their construction, including many rare images
• Offers a detailed narrative of how British aircraft manufacturers developed designs to better those of the enemy
• Covers the evolution of fighters from reconnaissance aircraft through to the first proper fighter aircraft

World War I witnessed unprecedented growth and innovation in aircraft design, construction, and as the war progressed - mass production. Each country generated its own innovations sometimes in surprising ways - Albatros Fokker, Pfalz, and Junkers in Germany and Nieuport, Spad, Sopwith and Bristol in France and Britain.

This book focuses on the British approach to fighter design, construction, and mass production. Initially the French led the way in Allied fighter development with their Bleriot trainers then nimble Nieuport Scouts - culminating with the powerful, fast gun platforms as exemplified by the Spads. The Spads had a major drawback however, in that they were difficult and counter-intuitive to fix in the field. The British developed fighters in a very different way; Tommy Sopwith had a distinctive approach to fighter design that relied on lightly loaded wings and simple functional box-girder fuselages. His Camel was revolutionary as it combined all the weight well forward; enabling the Camel to turn very quickly - but also making it an unforgiving fighter for the inexperienced. The Royal Aircraft Factory's SE5a represented another leap forward with its comfortable cockpit, modern instrumentation, and inline engine - clearly influenced by both Spads and German aircraft.

Each manufacturer and design team vied for the upper hand and deftly and quickly appropriated good ideas from other companies - be they friend or foe. Developments in tactics and deployment also influenced design - from the early reconnaissance planes, to turn fighters, finally planes that relied upon formation tactics, speed, and firepower. Advances were so great that the postwar industry seemed bland by comparison.


Wilkins' compact chronicle proved an illuminating, entertaining read.

Go buy this book right now. It is rare that ISD gives an instant five-star rating to any new volume, but Mark C. Wilkins' British Fighter Aircraft in World War I is a rare book.
Indy Squadron Dispatch

The real fascination of this book is that it goes into the actual building of the aircraft as much as anything else...Highly recommended.

...handy not only as an aircraft model reference, but also as a great reading for all history fans.

Wilkins writes well, managing to balance technical detail with the stories of the men behind these planes. […] thoroughly enjoyable for those interested in World War I British warplanes.
Wargames Illustrated

…beautifully presented and recommended for those with special interest in British fighting aircraft.
Western Front Association

For the aviation buff who wants to delve into biplane building, this book is for you.
The Historical Miniatures Gaming Society