Mehtidis, Alexis - Italian and Austro-Hungarian Aviation in WWI 2008
Italian and Austro-Hungarian Military Aviation on the Italian Front In World War One
This book is a considerably enriched version of "Italian Aviation in World War I" that Alexis Mehtidis published in 2004. The author has added detailed sections on Italian anti-aircraft defense, Austro-Hungarian aviation, maps and insignia, offering us one of the few complete books in English on this subject.
The first part, devoted to the Italian forces, explains that at the beginning of the hostilities, the Italian air component was fully integrated into the army. It included a few squadrons equipped with Nieuport, Farman and Blériot, as well as balloon units attached to the artillery. The Navy also had its air component with two airships and 14 seaplanes.
In 1915 this component became independent and became the Corpo Aeronautico Militare. The first Caproni bombers make their appearance, as well as the Caudron, Macchi, Voisin and Aviatik fighters (German, but manufactured under license); this new air force also uses seaplanes and soon takes control of the navy's air component in 1916. A year later, the navy resumed its naval aeronautical prerogatives ("déjà vu" in other countries...) and ended the conflict with 223 seaplanes.
Throughout the pages, one gets the impression that this air force kept moderate and stable numbers throughout the conflict - which varied between 600 and 800 aircraft - but very structured; an inventive air force that launched the first massive bomber raids very early (on Trieste), that used radio communications, high-resolution (for the time!) reconnaissance photography and that bombed railway junctions with airships. An army also showing that it was capable of projection, with units in Albania, Greece and Libya.
Curiously, it was not until November 1917 that an authority was created to coordinate the production of aircraft and aircraft engines.
Interesting and unusual approach, the author proposes us a section on the Italian anti-aerial artillery, a very complete part with the list of all the batteries and equipment, from the machine gun to the 75 mm gun.
The next part is devoted to the Austro-Hungarian air component, both the air force - Kaiserlich and Koniglich (K.u.K.) Luftfahrtruppen (L.F.T.) - and the naval air force - K.u.K. Seeflieger - deployed along the Croatian and Albanian coasts.
In 1915, at the beginning of hostilities, the Austro-Hungarian Air Force aligned 13 flying companies (FLiK - Fliegerkompanie) and three balloon detachments; by the armistice, these figures had risen to 50 and 30 (about 600 aircraft). The main types used were the Albatros, the Brandenburg and ... the Aviatik (too!).
The rest of the book is an impressive compilation, unit by unit, FLiK by FLiK (about a hundred), with its equipment and deployments. The author reviews the units and training centres, the balloon units, logistic units, meteorological units, as well as the aircraft used by the naval air, unit by unit, naval base by naval base (in Austria, Croatia and Albania). An effort made all the more complex by the fact that the campaign diaries of the different belligerents all write the same geographical locations with different spellings .
A comprehensive bibliography on the subject is included at the end of the book. A unique work of its kind.
142 pages – in english