by: Stephen T. Lawson [ ]
Honestly speaking, I have had my hands on, and read thousands of books concerning World War One aviation. After so many titles you can get a bit jaded and can trace the rehash of bad or dubious source information like reading a road map. It is a real pleasure to pick up Aeronaut’s newest publication. “Rumpler Aircraft of WWI” is from their Centennial Perspective on Great War Airplanes series. It is authored by Mr. Jack Herris and his team of Aaron Weaver, Bob Pearson and Steve Anderson with their contributing talents. Seldom have I found the level of research that I find in this book.
About the bookFrom the factory designations to the correct identification of developments in aircraft series this manuscript takes you through almost every step. A case in point is the late version Ru. C.III versus the early C.IV. It can be confusing to the knowledgeable reader, but the detail oriented photo captions and general text do more to explain these mysteries than any book previously published on the subject. In just 208 pages this book covers every production and prototype produced by The Rumpler Werke A.G. Johannistahl, Germany.
Described generically as an all-purpose reconnaissance biplane the unarmed two seat “B” series progressed to the “C” armed series. These were marked by variations of either land based or water based series. There were “D” single seat fighter versions and even the multiple engine and crew “G” series bombers. From the developments on the drawing boards and various prototype attempts Mr. Herris has done a thorough job especially in covering the pluses and minuses of their designs. Photo images are of a generally higher quality than I have seen previously.
Technical notes go beyond the general specifications and engine types. In the back of the book are some very decent plan views. Aeronaut publishing has gone to some lengths to get the drawings accurately rendered in 1/48 or 1/72 scale. Often I have seen lesser publishers attempt to fit scale drawings to a dimensional page width, therefore sacrificing the scale in blowing up or shrinking a drawing.
The text refers to first hand accounts of German aircrews and their Allied opponents. At the end of these sections on each aircraft type Mr. Herris has added a retrospective paragraph on the final grade or level in overall performance of the type.
Generally the two seat version was known as a handful to fly and not the meat for less experienced crews. The common theme of Rumpler performance reports read, “...she could stall in turns very easily but in a shallow dive or climb there was nothing faster...” Eventually it became the backbone, ribs, and legs of the two-seater operations. Post war, The Rumpler C.IV - IX were look-alike aircraft with specific operation capabilities. The remaining kissing cousins were sold to fledgling air forces and wore many and varied national markings. All total there were about 2201 airframes produced.
Conclusion I don’t like to use gushing terms to describe a product. It seems better to tell you that this book impresses me more than most publications I have ever read. It is a serious and comprehensive study on Rumpler aircraft of WWI. I highly recommend it to any student of the genre.
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