Air Aces: The Lives and Times of Twelve Canadian Fighter Pilots


234 pages
Contains Photos, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 1-55028-321-9
DDC 358.4'3'0922




Reviewed by Trevor S. Raymond

Trevor S. Raymond is a teacher and librarian with the Peel Board of Education and editor of Canadian Holmes.


Why is it that “staid Canada has produced, by far, more air aces per
capita than any other nation on earth”? McCaffery, a Sarnia journalist
and a biographer of Billy Bishop, attempts to answer that question, and
then goes on to describe the wartime exploits of a dozen extraordinary
Canadians, six from World War I and the rest from World War II. One of
the latter went on to fly in Korea, where he brought his number of
“kills” to five, the number at which a pilot is designated an ace.

McCaffery’s prose is breezy, but full of repetitive clichés. There
are historical errors (including one on the first page) and some silly
speculation. (Did Roy Brown win World War II by killing the Red Baron in
1918, thus preventing the Baron from leading the Luftwaffe to victory in
the Battle of Britain in 1940?) Most of McCaffery’s research relies on
secondary sources (although he did interview some survivors), and his
documentation is sometimes imprecise (“Macleans 1943,” for
instance). Nonetheless, McCaffery has provided a popular history of some
value: he has recovered from a rapidly fading record the names of nearly
300 Canadian aces and he has given exciting if somewhat breathless
accounts of a dozen who deserve to be remembered, as were the heroes of
ancient sagas in whose company they belong.


McCaffery, Dan., “Air Aces: The Lives and Times of Twelve Canadian Fighter Pilots,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 13, 2024,