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OVER THE FRONT, VOL.23 NO.24

 |  reviews

From Over the Front.com

An advance peek at this book was offered in the Summer 2006 issue of Over the Front (“Fighting Machines of the Air Service, AEF,” pp. 102 – 119). The article promised new information and illustrative material, and the book delivers on the promise.
Briefly stated, The Nieuport 28 – America’s First Fighter is a design history, covering development of all variants of the Nieuport 28, from prototype through wartime production models, as well as the modified Nieuport 28A advanced fighter-trainers delivered to the U.S. Air Service after the Armistice. In a lucid text, League member, Ted Hamady’s book makes clear why the French Aviation Militaire rejected the Nieuport 28 in favor of the Spad XIII, and how the U.S. Air Service came to be equipped with the Nieuport 28. Hamady also dispatches the long-held contention that a “fabric break” occurred during abrupt recovery from a high-speed dive; he presents evidence that a top wing leading edge break was the culprit in “wing failure” incidents reported.
The French biplane fighter’s contribution to the U.S. Air Service during the critical first months of combat is analyzed beginning with its first air combat successes. They were the result of a fight on 14 April 1918 when a pair of American-piloted Nieuport 28s from the 94th Aero Squadron had the first official combats by a U.S.-trained fighter unit, ending with victories by Lieutenants Douglas Campbell and Alan Winslow. A painting of the incident by noted aviation artist, Frank Wootton graces the book’s front cover and, inside, author Hamady uses a two-page spread for a full-color multi-dimensional overview of the fight to portray and analyze the paths of the two U.S. pilots and the Pfalz D.III and Albatros D.Va aircraft they brought down that day.
The book includes comprehensive presentations of a variety of colors and markings of Nieuport 28 aircraft – complemented by splendidly reproduced black & white photos from archives and personal collections. Information and photos about the origins and current locations of surviving Nieuport 28s and Nieuport 28As around the world wrap up this splendid account.
The Nieuport 28 – America’s First Fighter is recommended highly.