War Wings: films of the First Air War
Author: Phillip W. Stewart
Publisher: PMS Press (2008)
Binding: Hardcover, 236 pages
Ever wish you could see a World War I Curtiss "Jenny" do a triple loop? How about a squadron of American-made DH-4 "Liberty" bombers taking off on a mission over the front? You can, in glorious black-and-white--shot on location by the military's own movie makers, using state of the art (1918-style) wooden boxes with crude brass-encased glass lenses, metal hand cranks, and cumbersome tripods. Thousands of WWI-related motion picture reels sit in the vaults at the National Archives and Records Administration facility in College Park, Maryland--but only 71 titles contain aviation footage. This amazing real-time visual history of the first ever air war could have been lost to time. Luckily, with the publication of WAR WINGS: Films of the First Air War, you can locate those needles in the giant haystack of the Archives, and know precisely what moving images are on each reel.
WAR WINGS chronicles over 2,550 individual scenes of filmed action--while hundreds more are summarized. Scenes of pilot training, airplane manufacturing, fighting in the skies over France, and the post-Armistice testing of enemy airplanes, were all captured on film during 1917-1919. This superbly-researched landmark work is a boon to scholars, librarians, museum curators, historians, students of film, and those interested in genealogy. The detailed information contained within the pages of this invaluable research tool provides an accurate and timeless word-picture record of the aviation-related moving images of the "War to End All Wars."
One of Kind Research Book on WWI Air War Films
What a treasure chest of information for researchers - "War Wings: Films of the First Air War", by author and aviation research expert, Philip W. Stewart, is a true undiscovered gem. It is a one of a kind book that will someday in the future be recognized as a monumental and historic achievement. It is hard to fathom all the long hours of work went into getting the detailed data and information that is contained within these wonderful pages.
As an author and documentary film maker myself, I could see this book being used as a tool for anyone putting together a TV show, or movie, on the air combat in WWI. This book has put together a user friendly guidebook to aviation documentary motion pictures from the first war that classifies what is in the U.S. National Archives. This is not small achievement!
The book is really specialized by virtue of the information it presents and may not be of much interests to the average reader of war or aviation books; however, for those with a deeper need for finding actual film footage from that war, this is a must have book. There is something in the last part of this book that might interest most readers - an reprinted article by Brigadier General "Billy" Mitchell that is worth reading.
I give this book FIVE STARS because if its great value for historic preservation - but this book will have a small readership interest due to its very nature. This is not a casual book to sit down and read at the beach or the airport - this is for real aviation buffs, historians, film makers and perhaps, some college libraries. I found it enjoyable but it is has a specific target readership and is not recommend it for the general reading public at large.
Reviewed by: Bill McDonald (2008)