S u m m a r y
||Osprey Aircraft of the
Aces #66 “Balloon Busting Aces of World War 1”
||Soft cover, 96 pages
GB£12.99 online from Osprey Publishing
||Well researched, easy
to read style, superb artwork, and excellent use of first
Sopwith Pup Aces of World War 1
may be ordered online from Squadron.com
Osprey’s latest in the “Aces of World War 1” series focuses on one of
the more interesting targets to confront the pilots…observation
Shooting these down was considered a very dangerous objective and
pilots that volunteered for such missions were considered to have
“balloon fever”, a combination of pyromania and a death wish.
There were many reasons why this was a perilous exercise. A burning
gasbag could be seen for many miles and would attract enemy fighters
like bees to honey.
Being well behind enemy lines, the offending pilot would also have to
run the gauntlet to get back to the relative safety of his own lines.
Another danger was the ever present anti-aircraft artillery and machine
gun fire that would train a cone of fire on the would-be attacker.
The first item to catch the eye is the book’s cover art. This features
the king of the balloon busters…Willy Coppens. The more observant reader
will notice the Hanriot’s stationary propeller, and a description of
this fascinating encounter can be found within.
The story is set with an enlightening explanation of the two basic types
of gasbags used in World War 1; these being the Drachen and Caquot.
The tactics and weapons used to down these lighter than air targets are
also discussed, including some amusing stories of the erratic Le Prieur
An interesting facet of this book is that it covers the Aces of both
sides of the conflict. Thus in the one book, the reader can compare the
different strategies taken by the combatants, everything from the
squadron approach to that of the lone hunter.
All Fronts are covered in the subsequent chapters with the final one
being devoted to the “greatest of them all”, Willy Coppens. This section
makes fascinating reading as Coppen’s himself talks about his aircraft,
its markings, and even a meeting with the famous Guynemer. His writings
also talk about his “suicide mission” where he flew 200 kilometres
behind enemy lines merely to “buzz” his parent’s house!
There are the usual 96 pages to greet the reader and these contain over
one hundred black and white photographs. The images are well chosen with
many that will be new to regular readers of the series. The clarity of
these is also good with an excellent selection of the men and their
Harry Dempsey chimes in with his usual superb artwork. In this case
there are forty aircraft illustrated with an additional eight in plan
form. Types covered are the usual suspects, including items from
Nieuport, Spad, Sopwith, Fokker and Albatros.
A couple of surprises are thrown in, including a profile of Pippart’s
Roland D.IIa that he used to down Russian balloons before transferring
to the Western Font.
Unavoidably there are some duplicated profiles from other titles in the
series but these have been kept to a minimum.
As with other books from this author, the text is very entertaining and
easy to read.
Having the participants own accounts interspersed in the copy adds to
the experience and gives one a feeling of being there.
The appendices give a table of known balloon aces from each nation as
well as their final overall score.
This is an excellent addition to the much expanding Aces series.
Jon Guttman is an ideal choice for this type of book where his research
and knowledge of the subject is enthusiastically passed on to the
Balloon Busting Aces of World War 1
the Aces 66)
Illustrator: Harry Dempsey
US Price: $19.95
UK Price: £12.99
Publish Date: July 15, 2005
Details: 96 pages; ISBN:
Review Copyright © 2004 by
Page Created 13 July, 2005
Last updated 12 July, 2005
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