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Osprey Aviation Elite Units 18

Group de Combat 12 “Les Cigognes”


by Jon Guttman


S u m m a r y

Publisher and Catalogue Details: Osprey Aviation Elite Units 18 - Group de Combat 12 “Les Cigognes”
by Jon Guttman
ISBN: 1841767522
Media and Contents: Soft cover, 128 pages
Price: GB£13.99 online from Osprey Publishing
Review Type: FirstRead
Advantages: Easy to read style, well researched, superb colour artwork, 120 well-chosen photos.
Recommendation: Highly Recommended

Reviewed by
Rob Baumgartner

Osprey's "SPA124 Lafayette Escadrille” will be available online from Squadron.com



In World War 1, many of the combatants had a flying unit that assumed legendary status. With Germany it was Jagdgeschwader Nr I, the famous “Richthofen’s Circus”, with France it was “The Storks”

For the battles of Verdun and the Somme, various escadrilles de chasse were combined to operate together. The success of this arrangement led to the creation of groups on a more permanent basis.

On the 16 October 1916, Group de Combat 12 was formed and began operational duties on 1 November of the same year. It was under the command of Félix Brocard and initially comprised of escadrilles N3, N26, N73 and N103.

At its heart was escadrille N3 and it was only fitting that GC12 would adopt variations of N3’s stork insignia. The inspiration of this design coming from the storks that made a home on top of the chimneys of Alsace-Lorraine.

Jon Guttman’s latest 128-page book in the “Aviation Elite Units” series tells the story of GC12 from its inception to the last days of World War 1.

The reader is first given grounding as to the pilots and escadrilles that first made up the group. From there the author takes us through the exploits of the many flyers that saw service in this famous unit, including some enlightening passages on their Nieuport, SPAD VII, SPAD XII and ultimately SPAD XIII aircraft.

The text is littered with first-hand accounts from the pilots involved and these are cleverly woven into the narrative. As a result, much insight is gained from the pilots’ perspective and Guttman’s energetic writing style means this volume is more than simply a “who shot whom”.

The book is punctuated with great stories, the epic air battle between Guynemer and Udet, Capitaine Baron Kiyotake Shigeno-GC12’s Japanese volunteer, Fonck’s bottle of champagne bet with Parsons and Baylies, the list goes on…

And yes…the American volunteers also get a mention.

To compliment the text, there are more than 120 well-chosen photographs. These providing a good representation of man and machine.

Harry Dempsey does his usual admirable job of providing the colour artwork for the various aircraft involved. There are colour profiles for 40 machines, 8 of which have supplementary plan views. Inevitably, some have been seen before in other Osprey titles, but this has been kept to a minimum.





With more than 280 victories attributed it, GC12 was the premier fighting group of France. The unit had amongst its members such aces as Fonck, Guynemer, Deullin, and Baylies. It is therefore fitting that a book of this type should be attributed to “Les Cigognes”.

Jon Guttman certainly does justice to this latest title by providing an informative and entertaining read.

Highly Recommended

Thanks to Osprey Publishing for the review sample.

Groupe de Combat 12, 'Les Cigognes'
France's Ace Fighter Group in World War 1

(Aviation Elite Units 18)
Visit Osprey Publishing
Author:  Jon Guttman
Illustrator: Harry Dempsey
US Price: $21.95
UK Price: £13.99
Publisher: Osprey Publishing
Publish Date: November 25, 2004
Details: 128 pages; ISBN: 1841767530
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Review Copyright © 2004 by Rob Baumgartner
Page Created 18 November, 2004
Last updated 17 November, 2004

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