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Five Years in the Royal Flying Corps (1918)

Five Years in the Royal Flying Corps (1918)

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James McCudden V.C.


The 1st edition of the autobiography of British WW1 Fighter ace James McCudden V.C. who was killed in a flying accident in 1918, aged just 23, shortly after completing this book. Undated, but published in 1918 (the preface is dated 8/8/18). During his time with the Royal Flying Corps from 1913 to 1918, McCudden rose from mechanic to pilot. Gaining his first kill in September 1916, he went on to shoot down a total of 57 enemy planes, including three in a single encounter in January 1918. Most of his victories came while flying his favourite S.E.5a fighter with the renowned 56 Squadron. His success was based on careful preparation, great tactical awareness and exceptional marksmanship. Crucial to McCudden's success was his belief in only attacking when the odds favoured him. Other more reckless pilots would attack the enemy whenever possible, regardless of conditions or the likely outcome. This often proved to be a fatal miscalculation. McCudden survived for so long because he went into combat when he had an advantage: when the Germans had the advantage, he sensibly broke off and headed for home.

Five Years in the Royal Flying Corps is McCudden's personal account of both his own career and the RFC from its earliest days, when he started out as a mechanic, before going on to fly as an observer and finally becoming an outstanding fighter pilot. He describes the day to day life of an RFC squadron, alongside the extraordinary aerial battles he took part in. His account of the death of German Ace Werner Voss is particularly moving: "As long as I live I shall never forget my admiration for that German pilot, who single-handed fought seven of us for ten minutes, and also put some bullets through all of our machines. His flying was wonderful, his courage magnificent, and in my opinion he is the bravest German airman whom it has been my privilege to see fight". 


In very good condition. The boards are in good condition, with wear to the edges and spine, and fading to the spine. The binding and hinges are good and secure. The text and plates are in very good condition. The book is signed on the front endpapers by 'R. P. Cooper' (there was a 2/Lt R. P. Cooper serving in the R.F.C. during WW1).

Published: 1918
Blue boards, with dark blue titling
Dimensions: 130mm x 195mm
Pages: 348