By the age of 25 Lanoe Hawker of the Royal Flying Corps had won the VC and DSO. He was the first pilot to record five 'kills' before being shot down and killed by Baron von Richthofen (The Red Baron).
Lanoe's biography was written by his brother Tyrrel as a tribute. The Hawkers came from a distinguished sporting family with strong military and naval records and Lanoe from the outset set his sights on flying for the RFC. After attending the Central Flying School, he crossed to France in October 1914 with 6 Squadron equipped with BE2s and Henri Farmans.
As the war in the air progressed, Hawker shone as both a combat pilot and commander. He was rapidly promoted and given command of 24 Squadron. He, like other pilots, flew numerous early fighter aircraft such as the Bristol Scout, BE2c, FE2b and the famous DH2. Casualty/death rates were appalling but this special band of brothers flew on regardless until their turn came.
This book contains many combat reports by pilots of their actions in the air which make the most graphic reading. Of particular interest is von Richthofen's account of their fatal encounter. The relative merits, qualities and characteristics of the aircraft, both British, French and German, are discussed with pilots' opinions.
As an insight into Great War combat air operations Hawker VC – RFC Ace is unlikely to be surpassed.
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