Sunday, December 10, 2017

German Ace, Xavier Dannhuber


Dannhuber was born January 27th, 1891, in Gars am Inn, Bavaria.
Little has been recorded regarding his early years in The Great War from what I have found he transferred from ground forces to the bombing unit Kagohl 6. When the four of the Kagohls were disbanded and reformed as 24 Schutzstaffeln, he requested transfer to a fighter unit, being placed at Jasta 26 on July 1917.
One must assume he had pilot experience as he shot down an observation balloon near Vlamertinghe on August 12th 1917 to start his victory string. He promptly went on to score on the 17th, and again on the 21st. By September’s end he became an ace.
October he saw 5 more victories to bring his count to ten on the 17th.
On the 18th, Dannhuber took a bullet through his upper arm while being shot down, which removed Dannhuber from action until 7 November.

He returned to action in a different squadron, Jasta 79, where he ended 1917 by taking command of the jasta in December.
On February 11th, 1918, he was severely injured when he crashed a Pfalz D.IIIa during a test flight at Thugny airfield.

Recovering from his injuries, he resumed command of Jasta 79b on October 9th 1918. Five days later, on October 14th, exactly one year since his last victory, he scored his final triumph. He shot down a new Sopwith Dolphin near Bohain, France.

The only award I see listed for him is the Cross of the Royal House Order of Hohenzollern.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

The Ponnier L.1 Scout

Prior to the Great War the basic military aircraft design was the monoplane. When the Schneider Trophy of 1913 was won by a British biplane, the Sopwith Tabloid, the French government encouraged French aircraft designers to consider the possibilities of that wing configuration for military craft. 
One response was, Avions Ponnier. They redesigned their unsuccessful Ponnier D.III monoplane and designated it the Ponnier L.1. The L.1 and D.III used the same basic fuselage.
For reasons unclear, the L.1 was powered by a 50 hp Gnome rotary engine rather than the more powerful than the 160 hp Gnome in the D.III. Engines were mounted on tubular steel extensions of the main wooden, rectangular in cross section, fuselage. Four ash longerons interconnected by struts and braced by wires. The fuselage was aluminium covered ahead of the cockpit, extending to a partial, oil deflecting cowling around the upper half of the rotary engine. Behind the single seat open cockpit, the fuselage was fabric covered.

Ponnier D.lll

As on the Ponnier monoplanes there was no fixed fin but just a rounded, flat topped rudder. The tailplane was mounted on top of the fuselage and like the D.lll carried separate elevators; together they formed a horizontal rectangular tail. All the tail surfaces were steel tube structures.

The L.1 was a single bay biplane with a pair of tall, parallel interplane struts with flying and landing wires on each side. There was mild stagger and dihedral, with the lower wing having a slightly smaller span. The upper wing had a deep cut-out to provide some upward vision for the pilot, who sat under the wing just aft of mid-chord. The undercarriage was of conventional design on a pair of V-struts to the lower fuselage longerons. Of note is the long tailskid, mounted well forward.
Ponnier had hoped for military orders but none came.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Irish Ace, Edward "Mick" Mannock

Born May 24th 1887, in Aldershot, Hampshire, England. 
At age twelve, his father abandoned the family leaving them destitute. Halting his education, he sought work to help the family's finances. Moving through a variety of menial jobs, he ultimately trained and found work as a telephone engineer. In February 1914, Mannock's employer, the National Telephone Company, sent him to Turkey to assist with a project. With the outbreak of World War I he found himself held in a detainment camp for several months.
While there, he was beaten and kept in solitary confinement after making multiple escape attempts. 

Finally repatriated in April 1915, he immediately enlisted in the Royal Engineers and then Royal Army Medical Corps. He moved services again and in 1916 joined Royal Flying Corps(RFC). Despite a congenital defect that left him virtually blind in his left eye, 2nd Lieutenant Mannock received Royal Aero Club Aviator's Certificate at Beatty School, Hendon in November 1916

After completing his training he was assigned to 40 Squadron RFC. He got off to a slow start with his peers and also with the Nieuport scout but would soon prove himself as an exceptional pilot, scoring his first victory on May 7th 1917. Mannock went into combat on the Western Front participating in three separate combat tours. 

In February 1918, he was reassigned to 74 Squadron as a flight commander, scoring thirty six victories with an S.E.5a before replacing William Bishop as the commanding officer of 85 Squadron in July 3rd 1918. Here he quickly scored nine more victories.

Days after warning fellow ace George McElroy about the hazards of flying low into ground fire, that fate befell Mannock and he was killed in action dogfighting too close to the ground on 26 July 1918.
Mannock, with 61 victories, was among the most decorated men in the British Armed Forces. He was honoured with the Military Cross twice, was one of the rare three-time recipients of the Distinguished Service Order, and was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

The French Dorand AR reconnaissance aircraft.

By 1916 French Colonel Dorand, who headed the French STAé recognized that the Farman F.40 was obsolete with respect to performing daytime reconnaissance. He therefore had formulated a requirement for a 2-seat reconnaissance aircraft of the tractor configuration. Farman declined to produce the aircraft so production of these aircraft was turned over to the state-owned French Army Aircraft Establishment (or S.T.Aé.) factory at Chalais-Meudon, near Paris. Captain Georges Lepère of the French Army Aircraft Establishment would oversee the design and manufacturing. The result was the A.R. 1 and A.R. 2 (Avion de Reconnaissance).

The AR was characterized by backward-staggered three-bay wings and angular all-moving tail surfaces. The pilot sat beneath the leading edge of the upper wing, with the observer's cockpit being under the trailing edge, and there were cut-outs in both wings to improve the latter's field of view. Rather unusually for a single-engine tractor biplane of the era, the lower wing was not directly attached to the fuselage, instead being somewhat below it, supported by struts.

There was a window and camera opening on the floor of the observer's cockpit. Four bomb cells were located between the pilot and the observer which permitted storage of four 120mm bombs. The pilot had a 7.7mm Vickers gun fixed on the starboard side of the fuselage. The observer had one or two Lewis Guns on a movable mount.
They were initially powered by a 160 hp Renault. Later versions had a 190 hp Renault 8Gd or a 240 hp Loraine 8A engine.

The AR.1 had a wingspan of 43.5 ft, and used frontal radiators, while the AR.2 was a slightly smaller aircraft, with a wingspan of 39.4 ft, and wing mounted radiators. All these types had "A.2" added to their names in French service, indicating that they were two-seater reconnaissance aircraft.

The first of the thirteen squadrons which flew Dorands on the Western Front received their aircraft in the spring 1917. Five other French squadrons used the type on the Italian Front. These aircraft were withdrawn from the combat units in early 1918.

In 1917 the American Expeditionary Force ordered the Renault-engined varieties of the Dorand, these were delivered in December 1917 thru the following February. The Americans operated these types on the Western Front for the first half 1918, until replacing them with the Salmson 2. They were greatly disliked by the American pilots who contended that the design stood for "Antique Rattletraps". After being retired from fighting duties, the surviving examples were used as trainers. All in all, the Dorand AR-types didn't have a particularly distinguished career in either French or American service.

A small number of Dorand AR.1s were also supplied to Kingdom of Serbia, which operated these aircraft in four squadrons from April 1918 onwards.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Welsh Ace, James Ira Thomas "Taffy" Jones

Jones was born on 18 April 1896 at Woolstone Farm, near St. Clears, Carmarthenshire.
In 1913, while working as a clerk, Jones enlisted with the 4th Welsh in the Territorial Army. Jones was in London studying Wireless and Cable Telegraphy when the First World War started. Awaiting call-up, Jones joined the fledgling Royal Flying Corps, and after training joined No. 10 Squadron RAF as an 1st Class Air Mechanic in the wireless section.
He was posted to France in July 1915, and by January 1916 he was flying combat missions as an observer/gunner on BE-2's, winning his Observer's brevet in October 1916.

He returned to England for pilot training in May 1917 and received Royal Aero Club Aviator's Certificate on the Maurice Farman biplane at Military School, Ruislip on 26 August 1917. He was posted to 74 Squadron in early 1918 where he remained until the end of the war. 

Jones may have been short in stature, 5’ 4”, but he made up for it with his skillful tactics, marksmanship and high courage. However, for some reason he developed an unfortunate habit of crashing aircraft while attempting to land. Regardless, he recorded all of his 37 victories, flying a S.E.5a, in just three months.

Jones later volunteered to fight the Bolsheviks and was posted to the Archangel front but saw no further air combat. After the Armistice he became Commanding Officer of No. 74 Squadron until it was disbanded in 1919.

Jones was once quoted; "My habit of attacking Huns dangling from their parachutes led to many arguments in the mess. Some officers, of the Eton and Sandhurst type, thought I was 'unsportsmanlike' to do it. Never having been to a public school, I was unhampered by such considerations of form. I just pointed out that there was a bloody war on, and that I intended to avenge my pals."

Throughout his service with the 74th he won several awards and decorations; being awarded the Military Cross, the Distinguished Flying Cross and bar, the Distinguished Service Order and the Military Medal. 

Thursday, November 23, 2017

The Dornier-Zeppelin D.I

Named Zeppelin D.I (Do) in orgional German documents the aircraft has been referred to postwar as the Dornier D.I or Dornier-Zeppelin D.I, it was developed by Claude Dornier while working for Luftschiffbau Zeppelin at their Lindau facility.
It was a single-seat all-metal stressed skin monocoque cantilever-wing biplane fighter,

The Dornier D.I was one of several designs by Claude Dornier to have an all-metal stressed skin monocoque structure, and it was the first fighter to feature such construction and although production was cancelled prior to the completion of any production versions, it was also the first aircraft with these features to go into production. To reduce the hazards of inflight fires, it also had an external fuel tank, which, according to some sources may have been jettisonable, and thick-section cantilevered wings for improved aerodynamics.

The Dornier Do H Falke was developed from it, but had an enlarged upper wing and dispensed with the lower wing.

Seven prototypes were built as part of the development program. Luftstreitkräfte pilots evaluated the type in May and June 1918 and again in October. German ace Wilhelm Reinhard was killed on 3 July 1918 after a structural failure, while it was supposed to have been grounded for structural improvements. There were reports of heavy aileron controls and poor climb performance at higher altitudes. After being fitted with a more powerful BMW engine that boosted the climb rate to 16,000 ft from 25 minutes to 13 minutes.

An order was placed for 50 aircraft either in October or November. The airframes for this order were roughly 50 percent complete when production was halted due to the end of World War I.

One of the prototypes was shipped to the Wright Aeronautical Company, who fitted it with a licence-built Wright-Hisso H-3 engine. It was evaluated by the United States Navy with the designation Wright WP-1. It performed well, but the Navy considered the monoplane fighter too advanced for its needs.

Monday, November 20, 2017

German Ace, Paul Bäumer, "The Iron Eagle"

Bäumer was born May 11th, 1896 in Duisburg Ruhror, Germany. 
Prior to the war he was a dental assistant and at the start of the war, he joined the 70th Infantry Regiment. He served in both France and Russia, being wounded in the arm in the latter. After recovery he transferred to the air service as a dental assistant before being accepted for military pilot training. (Bäumer had his pilot's license when he entered the army.)
By October 1916, he was serving as a ferry pilot and instructor at Armee Flugpark 1 (flight school). His skills and attitude so impressed his superiors that he was, he was promoted to Gefreiter (corporal) February 1917 then in March, he was assigned to Flieger Abteilung 7 and promoted to Unteroffizier (sergeant) on the 29th.

He subsequently received training on single-seater fighters, consequently being posted to fighter duty with Jastal 5 in June 1917. Here he scored three victories as a balloon buster in mid-July before being transferred to the elite Jasta Boelcke.
Bäumer proved to be a natural combat pilot by reaching 18 victories by year end. He was commissioned Leutnant in April 1918.

On May 29th he was injured in a crash, breaking his jaw, and didn’t return to duty until September. His return was outstanding, flying the new Fokker D.VII he added 16 more victories to his tally in September. At war’s end he was credited with 43 victories, ranking ninth among German aces.

Nicknamed "The Iron Eagle", he flew with a personal emblem of an Edelweiss on his aircraft. He was one of the few pilots in World War I whose lives were saved by parachute deployment, when he was shot down in flames.
Bäumer was one of only five recipients to be awarded both the Pour le Mérite and the Golden Military Merit Cross.