S u m m a r y
||Osprey Aviation Elite
Units 18 - Group de Combat 12 “Les Cigognes”
by Jon Guttman
||Soft cover, 128 pages
GB£13.99 online from Osprey Publishing
||Easy to read style,
well researched, superb colour artwork, 120 well-chosen photos.
"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
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
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
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.
Osprey Publishing for the
Groupe de Combat 12, 'Les Cigognes'
Fighter Group in World War 1
Elite Units 18)
Illustrator: Harry Dempsey
US Price: $21.95
UK Price: £13.99
Publish Date: November 25, 2004
Details: 128 pages; ISBN:
Review Copyright © 2004 by
Page Created 18 November, 2004
17 November, 2004
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