James McCudden was one of Great Britain’s most brilliant flying aces.
From September 1916 until his death in July 1918 he shot down fifty-seven German planes.
Flying Fury is his remarkable story, written a few months before his last flight, and records in fascinating detail the life of a World War One fighter pilot ace.
McCudden’s account provides fascinating insight into the development of aerial warfare. He began his life with the Royal Flying Corps in 1913 as a engine-fitter and records the early flights that were made by the British military. At the outbreak of the First World War he left England for France and by 1915 he was in the sky as an observer and gunner. It was only in 1916 that he began to train as a pilot before he took to the skies and became an exceptional fighter pilot; on one occasion shooting down three enemies in as many minutes.
His work records in brilliant detail the confusion of the dogfights, the camaraderie of the men who knew they were putting their lives on the lines, the boredom of being grounded and the thrill taking to the skies.
Tragically McCudden’s life was cut short just four months before the end of the war, not during combat with enemy planes, but instead due to engine failure that caused his plane to plunge into the ground below.
Flying Fury: Five Years in the Royal Flying Corps is essential reading for anyone interested in finding out more about the development of aerial combat and how one man rose to become one of the most formidable aces of the First World War.
With his six British medals and one French, McCudden received more awards for gallantry than any other airman of British nationality serving in the First World War. He was also one of the longest serving. By 1918, in part due to a campaign by the Daily Mail newspaper, McCudden became one of the most famous airmen in the British Isles. He died on 9 July 1918 at the age of twenty-three. His work was posthumously published as Five Years in the Royal Flying Corps in 1919.
“His skill and daring speak for themselves. Only the finest courage and an unsurpassed mastery of the art of flying and fighting in the air could account for such a record of unflagging work and incessant victory. His work was as thorough as it was brilliant and his thoroughness was an important cause of his success.” Lord Trenchard, Marshal of the Royal Flying Corps
“I am confident that he would agree with me when I say that the secret of his remarkable success lay in the fact that he fought with his head as well as with his great heart.” Sir John Salmond, Chief Air Marshal