Salmson Aircraft of World War I

Salmson Aircraft of World War I

Salmson Aircraft of World War I, by Colin A. Owers, Jon S. Guttman and James J. Davilla, Flying Machines Press, 2001; 116 pp., 12" x 9", softcover, profusely illustrated with photos, line drawings and color profiles; ISBN 1-891268-16-3; $49.95; available from Paladin Press, 7077 Winchester Cir., Boulder, CO 80301-3505 (Tel: 1-800-466-6868).

No, this is not the 'Colin A. Owers Edition' of Over The Front. It's just that the works of the productive Australian air historian are showing up with increasing regularity. In this case, he and two well-known French aviation experts have produced a truly fine volume devoted to a series of important French aircraft of World War I; Jon Guttman is well known to readers of this journal for his fine articles on French markings, and James J. Davilla is co-author of the recent and well-regarded volume 'French Aircraft of the the First World War'.

Best known for the 2A2 two-seat reconnaisance aircraft, used by American air units, the Société de Moteurs Salmson began as an engine manufacturer. In 1916, the Salmson company began building aircraft designed by noted pre-war aviator René Moineau: the radically-designed, complicated, drag-producing S.M.1. It did not take many iterations of that two-propellor aircraft for Emile Salmson to return to a more conventional airplane that resulted in the Salmson 2 series that secured his reputation. Five further aircraft were produced, but the 2A2 is the Salmson most people associate with World War I air combat. It was an effective observation aircraft and a tough opponent in an airfight.

This hefty volume includes same-scale, fold-out drawings of the Salmson series, as well as eight pages and inside and outside rear covers of excellent color views of a variety of aircraft rendered by Juanita Franzi; the latter includes aircraft in American, Czechoslovakian, French, Japanese and Polish colors and markings. Excellent markings notes explain the various color features. Mike O'Neal's fine front cover color painting of an American Salmson under attack by two German Fokker D.VIIs accurately depicts the aircraft in its natural combat environment.

Whether for good interesting reading or well-documented and lucidly-presented research, 'Salmson Aircraft of World War I' by Owers, Guttman and Davilla is highy recommended.

submitted by Peter Kilduff