Book Review
The Eagle of Lille
  • Ace Biographies

by: Stephen T. Lawson [ JACKFLASH ]

The man,

Max Immelmann and Oswald Boelcke were awarded the Orden Pour le Mérite on 12 January 1916. Later that year on 16 June 1916, Immelmann was killed in a dogfight with seven British aircraft. His death, like that of many other aces, was controversial. While the British credited the pilot of an F.E.2b with his loss, the Germans proclaimed that the synchronized machine gun on Immelmann's Fokker E.III malfunctioned and he shot his own propellor off. However, after examining the wreckage, Anthony Fokker concluded that Immelmann's aircraft was brought down by German anti-aircraft fire.

With the introduction of aircraft armed with forward firing machine guns, the "Eagle of Lille" laid the foundation for single seat fighter tactics in World War I. Today, he is best remembered for the "Immelmann turn," a half-loop followed by a half-roll.

The story of one of Germany’s pioneers in aerial combat . . .

Max Immelmann was born in Dresden, the son of a container factory owner. When World War I started, Immelmann was recalled to active service, transferred to the Luftstreitkäfte and was sent for pilot training in November 1914. He was initially stationed in northern France as a reconnaissance aviator. On June 3, 1915 he was shot down by a French pilot but managed to land safely behind German lines. He was decorated with the Iron Cross, Second Class for preserving his aircraft. Later in 1915, he became one of the first German fighter pilots, quickly building an impressive score of victories as he became known as The Eagle of Lille (Der Adler von Lille).

Immelmann was the first pilot to be awarded the Pour le Mérite, Germany’s highest military honor. The medal became colloquially known as the “Blue Max” in the German Air Service in honor of Immelmann. His medal was presented by Kaiser Wilhelm II in January 1916. Oswald Boelcke received his medal at the same ceremony.

Founder of the aerial combat maneuver that still bears his name, Immelmann was credited with 17 victories, his final one coming on 30 March 1916. He will forever be associated with the Fokker Eindecker, Germany’s first fighter aircraft, and the first to be armed with a machine gun synchronized to fire forward through the propeller arc. Along with Oswald Boelcke and other pilots, Immelmann was one of the main instigators of the Fokker Scourge which inflicted heavy loses upon British and French aircrews during 1915. Who flying the slower observation machines called themselves "Fokker Fodder."

The book,

Written by his brother Frantz Immelmann it was originally published in 1930 by John Hamilton in London, the book has been reprinted (most recently in the 1990’s by Greenhill Books as part of it’s Vintage Aviation Library) and each time has been reproduced from the original 1930’s version of the book. Much that was published during this time was because the regime in power wanted to glorify former heros. Note also while not the only book on Max Immelmann is is important for thorough research and quite honestly a fine read.

This new Casemate edition has been entirely re-originated. Not a word has been changed, but the original (very dated) type and page layout have been reworked, as has been the format in which the book is presented, to give a beautiful new treatment to this classic of aviation literature.

4.75 x 7.5"
209 pages not 256 as advertised.
16 pages b/w photos of third or fourth generation quality.
$29.95 USD
hardback by Casemate

When contacting manufacturers or publishers please note that you say this review on AEROSCALE

Note that most of the images included here are from the reviewer's own files on Early Aviation.
Highs: Facts in evidence the combats are truthfully discussed.
Lows: Published during by a close releative who saw only the hero.
Verdict: A must read for anyone wanting to know the men who flew and fought in those long gone days.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: Other
  Mfg. ID: 978-1-932033-98-4
  Suggested Retail: $29.95 USD
  Related Link: New Looking Classics
  PUBLISHED: Sep 21, 2009

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About Stephen T. Lawson (JackFlash)

I was building Off topic jet age kits at the age of 7. I remember building my first WWI kit way back in 1964-5 at the age of 8-9. Hundreds of 1/72 scale Revell and Airfix kits later my eyes started to change and I wanted to do more detail. With the advent of DML / Dragon and Eduard I sold off my ...

Copyright ©2021 text by Stephen T. Lawson [ JACKFLASH ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.


Good news! Casemate has sent an extra copy of the book! So now I get to offer it here on Aeroscale to one of the lucky members! Now How should I do this? Hhhhhmmmm. . .
SEP 22, 2009 - 12:26 PM

Click image to enlarge
  • Ace Biographies
    Reprint from 1934
  • Fokker E type
    Max Immelmann & his Fokker E.I type. Note the war time censors have erased the rotary cylinders of the machine.
  • Fokker E type
    Fokker E.IV type in flight.
  • Fokker E type
    Fokker E.I or II type on take off.
  • Fokker E type
    Fokker E.II(?)type. The pilot is a Ltn. Hesse
  • Fokker E type
    Fokker E.I type
  • Fokker E type
    Fokker E.IV type