The 147th Aero Squadron in World War I: A Training and Combat History of the "Who Said Rats" Squadron. By John Stokes Ballard and James John Parks. Atglen, Pa.: Schiffer Military History, 2013. Maps. Photographs. Notes. Appendices. Bibliography. Index. Pp. 240. $59.99 ISBN: 978-0-7643-4400-8
Jack Ballard, the author of several books relating to military history, particularly in the western United States, finished the work started by the late James Park, a devotee of the 147th Aero Squadron who interviewed many of the surviving flyers before their passing. Park's son, Andy, executive director of the Vintage Air Museum and Lafayette Foundation of Denver, Colorado, made available to Ballard a treasure trove of letters, journals, and photographs gathered over the years. Probably the least known of the First Pursuit Group's four squadrons (the 27th, 94th, and 95th compose today's 1st Fighter Wing at Langley AFB, Virginia), the 147th nevertheless engaged in some of the most intense aerial combat encountered by United States Army Air Service units in World War I.
The 147th began to emerge during its pilots' initial training under British guidance at bases around Toronto, Ontario. Later, the flyers moved to Fort Worth, Texas, where the unit was formally organized before shipping overseas to France in March 1918.
After gaining their confidence and skill in Curtiss JN-4 Jennys in North America, the pilots' next step involved transition training to French aircraft under French instruction. Understandably, the different approach frustrated some before they become comfortable in their first combat aircraft, the French-designed and -built Nieuport...