Bloody April 1917

The birth of modern air power

Bloody April 1917 cover


Researched from original-language primary sources, this is a uniquely well-informed and multi-faceted history of the World War I air campaign of Bloody April.

Researched from original German-, French-, and English-language sources, and written by an authority on both air and ground military operations, author, Dr James S Corum examines how Bloody April caused Allied forces to reassess their approach to the use of airpower. Considering well-known problems such as technology and training doctrine, but also how the artillery-aircraft combination ideally had to work in late-WW I ground offensives, Dr Corum analyses what each side got wrong and why. He describes little-known parts of the April campaigns, such as both sides' use of strategic bombing with heavy aircraft, and considers the German use of advanced high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft with oxygen and heated suits while detailing the exploits of the infamous 'Red Baron', Manfred von Richthofen.

Lessons from Bloody April not only served to improve the coordination of Allied artillery and aircraft but subsequently aircraft played a much larger role in supporting ground troops in attack mode.

Bloody April paved the way for the airpower revolution that, by 1918, would make the Allies masters of the sky on the Western Front.

Table of Contents

The Entente air services in 1917
The French Service Aéronautique in the Nivelle Offensive
The Royal Flying Corps
Senior commanders
Army air commanders
British RFC brigade commanders
The Luftstreitkräfte: German Imperial Air Service
Luftstreitkräfte organization in the 1917 campaign
German aircraft
Senior commanders
German Army aviation commanders
The eyes of the big guns
Aircraft and the artillery
Fixed balloons and the artillery
The artillery flyers
Lessons from the Verdun and Somme campaigns
Lessons from the Somme: July–November, 1916
Air services and aircraft production
Aircraft attrition – the problem of quality control
Training for the air services
Fighter tactics
Squadron tactics
The Nivelle Offensive
The strategic situation in early 1917
Bloody April
March 1917: Germans withdraw to the Siegfriedstellung
Preparing the Nivelle Offensive
Air operations prior to the offensive
The French front
Attacking the balloons
The air campaign prior to the British attack
The Arras sector: the RFC's bombing campaign
The attack at Vimy Ridge and Arras, 9–14 April
The British offensive continues, 10 April–4 May
Arras Front, 11 April–4 May
Battle on the Chemin des Dames Front
Chemin des Dames Front, 18 April–4 May
The French Army mutinies
Losses and lessons for the air campaigns of April 1917

Product details

Published Nov 22 2022
Format Paperback
Edition 1st
Extent 96
ISBN 9781472853059
Imprint Osprey Publishing
Illustrations Illustrated throughout with around 60 photos and at least 14pp of colour illustrations
Dimensions 10 x 7 inches
Series Air Campaign
Short code ACM 33
Publisher Bloomsbury Publishing

About the contributors


James S. Corum

Dr James S. Corum is an internationally recognized…


Graham Turner

Graham Turner is a leading historical artist, spec…


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