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War Bird Ace

The Great War Exploits of Capt. Field E. Kindley

By Jack Stokes Ballard

Publication Year: 2007

Capt. Field E. Kindley, with the famous Eddie Rickenbacker, was one of America’s foremost World War I flying aces. Like Rickenbacker’s, Kindley’s story is one of fierce dogfights, daring aerial feats, and numerous brushes with death. Yet unlike Rickenbacker’s, Kindley’s story has not been fully told until now. Field Kindley gained experience with the RAF before providing leadership for the U.S. Air Service. Kindley was the fourth-ranking American air ace; his exploits earned him a Distinguished Service Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster from the United States and a Distinguished Flying Cross from the British government. In February 1920, during a practice drill Kindley led, some enlisted men unwittingly entered the bombing target area. “Buzzing” the troops to warn them off the field, Kindley somehow lost control of his plane and died in the ensuing crash. Using arduously gathered primary materials and accounts of Great War aces, Jack Ballard tells the story of this little-known hero from the glory days of aerial warfare. Through this tale, an era and a daring flyer live again.

Published by: Texas A&M University Press

Series: C. A. Brannen Series


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Title Page, Copyright Page

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p. vii

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p. ix

Jack Ballard’s War Bird Ace chronicles the exploits of one of America’s great, and relatively unknown, World War I aces. The fourth-ranking air ace of World War I, Kindley was killed in an air crash at only twenty-three years of age. Author Jack Ballard grew up in Gravette, Arkansas, Kindley’s hometown, and for many years was fascinated by the exploits of the young ...

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pp. xi-xvi

New books and articles about World War I, the so-called “Great War” and the “War to End All Wars,” continue to appear. To the historian, more information seems to materialize even when the subject appears to have reached a state of exhaustion. Clearly, new interpretations and insights come from renewed examination of old accounts, data, and ...

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1. The Early Years

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pp. 1-17

By the spring of 1917, the worldwide conflict with its deadly new weapons, such as the machine gun, produced heavy casualties in mass attacks by troops on both sides. As a consequence, the war ground to a stalemate on the Western Front, the German-French boundary. From the English Channel to the Alps, trench warfare dominated. Troops endured horrible ...

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2. Training for the Big Show

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pp. 18-35

It no doubt was the first time he had visited a major university, and certainly he must have been impressed and perhaps eager to explore this new environment. His time there, however, was not to be a relaxed introduction to academia. The School of Military Aeronautics, established to provide ground training for World War I pilots, required long hours and concentrated study. ...

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3. Ferrying Aircraft

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pp. 36-41

The father presumed that Field had gone to France and with some resignation to that thought added strong patriotic comments. “The bloody Kaiser has forced death to so many. . . . If Field could only be the one of thousands who may be fortunate to cast a ton of explosives on the head of the tyrant I shall be satisfied and die believing that my life has been well spent.” ...

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4. First Combat

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pp. 42-58

... by the new American pilots, they had been totally equipped by the British as well as completely trained by the RAF. In typical action, Lieutenant Kindley received orders first to the 65th Squadron of the Royal Air Force in France and later moved to the 148th American pursuit squadron at the northern British front. ...

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5. Four Victories

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pp. 59-78

It was nearly 10:30 P.M. as he pulled his baggage off the truck. He had just turned to shake hands with one of his “old Yankee friends” when he heard a whizzing and then a large explosion. A faint hum of an engine could be heard, and it was obvious that “Fritz” was overhead. It sounded as if he was headed ...

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6. Becoming an Air Ace

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pp. 79-107

The correspondence flow from the Philippines to France and vice versa must have taken a long time indeed. George C. Kindley, Field’s father, writing on August 19, 1918, from Malaybalay, acknowledged Field’s letter of June 4. “You don’t know dear boy how proud I am of you at this time,” he wrote. “I am so pleased to know you are doing ...

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7. The Postwar Experience

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pp. 108-126

As has been noted, he had expressed concern about his fraying nerves and wished for a break in his combat flying. It seems highly possible that if Kindley’s move to Toul and the process of transition to a new aircraft had not occurred, he might have been on that psychological downward spiral wherein that dreaded one last ...

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8. Return to the United States

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pp. 127-144

The New York newspaper went on to say, “Captain F. E. Kindley, next to ‘Eddie’ Rickenbacker, America’s greatest ace, returned yesterday on the transport Tiger, which brought 2,546 troops into port. Captain Kindley, who is officially credited with downing twelve German planes, was in command of the 141st Aero Squadron ...

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9. Fallen Aerial Warrior

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pp. 145-156

Once again, his hometown celebrated his arrival. At one point he was honored by the citizens with the presentation of a “handsome gold watch.” One young townsman remembered his very shiny brown boots.1 Others were impressed with his modesty and his military bearing. During his short stay there he expressed the wish to bring his father back from the Philippines to join him and perhaps to ...

Appendix A

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p. 157

Appendix B

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pp. 158-160

Appendix C

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pp. 161-163

Appendix D

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pp. 164-166


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pp. 167-186


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pp. 187-200


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pp. 201-208

E-ISBN-13: 9781603445139
E-ISBN-10: 1603445137
Print-ISBN-13: 9781585445547
Print-ISBN-10: 1585445541

Page Count: 224
Illustrations: 35 b&w photos. 4 maps.
Publication Year: 2007

Series Title: C. A. Brannen Series
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OCLC Number: 708568325
MUSE Marc Record: Download for War Bird Ace

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Subject Headings

  • Kindley, Field Eugene, 1896-1920.
  • United States. Army. Air Service. Aero Squadron, 148th.
  • World War, 1914-1918 -- Aerial operations, American -- Biography.
  • Fighter pilots -- United States -- Biography.
  • World War, 1914-1918 -- Regimental histories -- United States.
  • World War, 1914-1918 -- Campaigns -- France.
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