Published on
February 20, 2022
Review Author(s)
Book Author(s)
Alan E. Durkota
Illustrators: Juanita Franzi and Bob Pearson
Other Publication Information
Square Softbound, (8.5” x 11”), 148 pages
Series: Medal of Honor Volume I
Company: Aeronaut Books - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Aeronaut Books - Website: Visit Site

Aeronaut Books is a publisher of aviation history books for enthusiasts by enthusiasts. Aeronaut Books is to publish fun, exciting books about aviation in the Great War for our readers, and also to preserve the history. It is owned by Jack Herris, founder and former owner of Flying Machines Press (which was sold to another publisher in September 2000). Ten years later, Jack Herris jumped back in the publishing pool with Aeronaut Books in November 2010.

Alan E. Durkota has authored Imperial Russian Air Service: Famous Pilots and Aircraft of World War I (Flying Machine Press, 1995) and the first edition of Medal of Honor: Aviators of World War I (Flying Machine Press, 1998).

Alan Durkota’s second edition of Medal of Honor Volume I: Aviators of WWI, is one of the latest from Aeronaut Books. This edition is in their standard 8.5” x 11” format square-back softbound publication that is 148 pages (excluding covers). The first edition was published in 1998 and was 112 pages long, so to save you the math, this second edition is 36 pages longer. A new front cover highlights another difference between editions, with the second edition featuring a new Russell Smith painting of Robert Robinson & Ralph Talbot in their Dayton-Wright DH-4 on October 6, 1918. The rear cover is also new with color illustrations of the Medal of Honor and of all eight winners from this Volume. I counted 150 black and white period photographs and 12 color photographs. Juanita Franzi and Bob Pearson contribute 44 color profiles along with 16 scrap views. There are two illustrative color maps, two color figure illustrations, and three color paintings.

Alan Durkota kicks this tome off with a history of the Medal of Honor. The Medal of Honor was created during the American Civil War to recognize individual acts of bravery. Interestingly, not all Medal of Honor awards are for military service. Some 200 individuals have received the Medal of Honor for personal bravery or self-sacrifice during peaceful times. Others have received the Medal of Honor through ‘special legislation’, for their ‘lifetime of service’, or for ‘contributions in exploration”. All eight WWI aviators that received the Medal of Honor are covered in their own chapters that follow. This coverage includes plenty of clear, well captioned period photographs, supported by color illustrations of their aircraft.

The sections include:

  • Acknowledgments
  • Medal of Honor
  • Erin R. Bleckley and Harold E. Goettler [Page 009]
  • Charles Hazeltine Hammann [Page 047]
  • The Italian Front on the Adriatic
  • The Opposition
  • Phonix D.I
  • Frank Luke, Jr. [Page 073]
  • Francis Edward Ormsbee, Jr. [Page 085]
  • Edward Vernon Rickenbacker
  • Robert Robinson & Ralph Talbot [Page 123]
  • Colors & Markings
  • Endnotes
  • Index

All eight of the Medal of Honor narratives are very interesting, but I focused in on Charles Hazeltine Hammann’s story. Specifically because I had recently acquired Lone Star Model’s 1/48 kit of the Macchi M.5 that also included Hammann’s markings. Hammann was awarded the Medal of Honor for rescuing George Ludlow from his disabled Macchi M.5 and flying the overloaded aircraft back 60 miles to Porto Corsini [Page 047]. Hammann had had considerable trouble taking off with Ludlow as his Macchi M.5 was taking on water due to bullet holes sustained from the aerial battle. Ludlow was hanging on engine mounting struts as the Macchi sustained additional damage to its nose before becoming airborne. Upon landing this damage caused the Macchi to nose into the war and flip on its back, trapping Hammann under water. Luckily Ludlow was able to dive underneath the aircraft and free Hammann from his safety belt.

Alan Durkota has delivered an essential book on WWI aviators that is presented in an easy to read style. Each story is quite interesting for the aviation historian and the details in the photographs and color illustrations are quite supportive for the aviation modeler.

The aircraft that are detailed include:

  • Dayton-Wright DeHavilland DH 4
  • Macchi M.5
  • Phonix D.I
  • SPAD 13C-1
  • Burgess N-9
  • Nieuport 28

Three new books were released in this series on the same day with Medal of Honor Volume 2: Interwar Years, 1919-1939, Volume 3: Marine Aviators of WWII Part 1; and Volume 4: Marine Aviators of World War II Part 2. If you have any of Aeronaut’s previous books, you know how great a value this book is. Highly Recommended!

My thanks to Aeronaut Books and IPMS/USA for the chance to review this great book.

Highly recommended!


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