Author Topic: Otto, AGO and BFW Aircraft of WW1  (Read 3027 times)

Offline Dave W

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Otto, AGO and BFW Aircraft of WW1
« on: November 08, 2019, 02:37:47 PM »
Otto, AGO, and BFW Aircraft of WWI

A Centennial Perspective on Great War Airplanes

Reviewed by Erik W. Whipple

ISBN 978-1-935881-78-0
Format: 8 ˝ x 11”. 244 pages, 382 photos of which 23 are in color. 24 pages of line drawings in 1/72 and/or 1/48 scale.

Author: Jack Herris
©Aeronaut Books/Jack Herris
Color Profiles: Bob Pearson
Scale Line Drawings: Martin Digmayer
Cover Design:Aaron Weaver
Cover Painting: by Mike O'Neal

Retail Price: $49.99USD

Available online at and

Overall impressions:

Nice, large format in a well-organized layout.  Excellent depth and scope, including robust data tables. Loaded with biographical, historical, and technical information all described in a concise, smooth-flowing manner.  Beautifully crisp profiles and line drawings.  Several familiar and authoritave names appear among the acknowledgements, while the author's own efforts in terms of communication, travel, and direct, first-hand research may have been slightly understated.


I'm one of those WWI aviation enthusiasts who gets frustrated when I read vague references to aircraft with which I'm not familiar while reading about aerial operations and combat encounters.  Especially when internet and forum searches reveal little to no further useful information on the types.  Admittedly, I probably didn't know enough about these subjects to pen a decent haiku, so I'm very grateful to have this book.

The book starts out with a brief, yet informative introduction to pioneer German aircraft designer Gustav Otto, son of the man who invented the four-stroke engine.  It then goes on to describe his early efforts in aerodynamics, aircraft design, the companies he founded and led, as well as other firms that sprang forth from them.

 Also, the author provides detailed information about unrelated manufacturers who built his aircraft under license, carefully noting differences in detail wherever they deviated from the basic designs.  It is also fairly easy to see how this family of aircraft influenced the ideas and later designs of other manufacturers.

Flowing naturally from there, the book presents a very logical series of sections and chapters covering first the Otto machines- including pre-war types- then AGO, followed by BFW. 
Relevant photographs with informative captions are accompanied by various tables interspersed throughout each section.

In all, there are in excess of 32 types of aircraft covered- early unarmed training and reconnaissance types, later armed versions, those configured as seaplanes and liaison machines- including detailed information about their powerplants, armaments, production levels, and operational histories.  Refinements and advances in equipment are noted either in the text and/or photo captions.

Throughout the book, easy-to-follow tables are provided to illustrate which firms built what types, how many, and the numbers assigned to training and operational field units.  Losses and airframe retirements are often noted as well.

The photographs and illustrations in the book are also highly noteworthy.  Clearly, the author selected only the best photos that he could locate from the collections noted- the vast majority are well-focused and were taken from vantage points that reveal great detail.

There is also a series of color photos from certain museum examples, including a standalone Argus 4-cylinder engine.  Bob Pearson's profile art conforms to his usual high standards, Martin Digmeyer's line drawings are crisp, detailed, and include important scrap views.  Most of the drawings are given a full page, while the photographs and profiles are sufficient in size, mostly page width- to view the subjects with the unaided eye.

On my second pass through the book, I kept my magnifying glass handy because some of the detail evident in the photos would be considered excellent even for images of much later vintage.  There's also some vintage drawings including factory plans, construction scrap views, and camoflage diagrams to serve as additional eye candy.  In total, these illustrations should prove highly informative to enthusiasts and quite useful to kit modeler and scratchbuilder alike.


Those familiar with previous titles from Aeronaut Books will already be aware of the high standards that this publisher sets for their products.  With this latest publication, they may have raised that bar even higher.

This book has been an enjoyable, interesting, and informative read.  I find it to be handsome in appearance, logical in layout, and very informative.  It's one of those rare books that can either be enjoyed from cover to cover or quickly referenced for very specific information.

Highly recommended for any modeler or book collector interested in the pioneers of early aviation and the evolution of WW1 aircraft.
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