Knights of the Air: Canadian Fighter Pilots in the First World War


210 pages
Contains Photos, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 1-55278-153-4
DDC 940.4'4'0922





Illustrations by Stephen P. Quick
Reviewed by Danial Duda

Danial Duda is a librarian specializing in military history at the
Rutherford Library, University of Alberta.


Knights of the Air is narrative, technical, and analytical history of
the air war during World War I. Canada’s major contribution to this
theatre of war was her pilots. To quote from the prologue, “of the
twenty-six empire aces with thirty or more victory claims, ten were
Canadian, including the highest ... the second highest ... and two more
among the top seven, all of whom had fifty or more victories.”

Using the Canadian pilots as the main backdrop in his story, Bashow
explains how air tactics and strategy quickly evolved from practically
nothing in 1914 to highly complex formations in 1918. He gives a
balanced account of the contributions made by all the belligerents
involved on the Western Front: Great Britain and the Empire, France, and
Germany. He also shows how war is the mother of ingenuity by describing
all the major technical innovations that occurred between 1914 and 1918
and how the pilots from both sides of the front used this technology to
gain the advantage. He devotes one chapter to each year of the war and
two chapters to Canada’s most famous aces, Billy Bishop, credited with
72 victories (highest among Empire pilots) and Roy Brown, the man who
shot down Manfred von Richthofen, the Red Baron. Illustrations by
Stephen Quick, along with photographs and maps, complement Bashow’s
fine text.


Bashow, David L., “Knights of the Air: Canadian Fighter Pilots in the First World War,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 24, 2024,