War Wings


1st Place!
Stars and Flag Book Awards
Non-Fiction
Technical Reference



To the World War One aviation enthusiast in England whose letter started my long journey into historic aviation motion picture sleuthing. With this book, I hope I've answered your questions.
Sorry it took so long.

Have you ever seen a "Jenny" do a triple loop or a squadron of American made "Liberty" bombers take off on a mission over the front? You can...In glorious black and white!

WAR WINGS is a unique reference guide that describes, in detail, over 2,500 scenes of WWI aviation related documentary motion pictures. 

According to aviation historian, Walter J. Boyne, "This book is absolutely indispensable to a student of WWI aviation."

To quote Leo Opdycke, author and publisher, "It's the next best thing to seeing the films themselves."

Contrary to some widely held beliefs, large, heavy, wooden boxes with crude brass-encased glass lenses, metal hand cranks, and ungainly tripods were, indeed filming the events of the Great War. They were shot on location, as history happened, by dedicated and courageous U.S. Army Signal Corps soldier-cameramen. Scenes of pilot training, aerial combat in the skies over France, airplane manufacturing, and the post-Armistice testing of enemy airplanes were all captured on film from 1917 through 1919. The films that found their way back from "Over There" are considered official government records and are preserved in the National Archives.

Unfortunately, few of these motion pictures show the newest weapon of the war, the airplane, in action. In fact, of the thousands of WWI related reels held in the National Archives, only 71 film titles document aviation activities, and half of those titles consist of only a few scenes.

With the centennial of America's involvement in World War I less than a decade away, it's important for all of us, who share more than a casual interest in early aviation, to re-discover and explore all available resources. The films cataloged in this book document a fascinating visual story of war in the air of 90 years ago. It is incumbent upon all of us, as we begin the process of re-telling, re-writing, and re-showing the first air war to generations of people with little knowledge of it, that we include the moving image element--the motion picture.



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