Sunday, April 15, 2018


Royal Aircraft Factory S.E 5

Royal Aircraft Factory S.E 8


Sopwith Camel


Sopwith Dolphin


Fokker D.Vll


Bristol F.2B

Sunday, April 8, 2018

The LaFayette Escadrille

Sgt. Harold B. Willis poses standing beside the right side of an aircraft showing the Lafayette Escadrille insignia which he would later redesign. France, 1917.

The LaFayette Escadrille was officially created in April of 1916 and flew its first mission from Luxeuilles-Bains on May 13th.
It is worth noting that several hundred Americans, including writer William Faulkner, have claimed to have been LaFayette Escadrille aviators, only 38 American and 4 Frenchmen ever flew for it during all its existence.

Lafayette Escadrille pilots, standing (left to right) Robert Soubiron, James Doolittle, Andrew Campbell, Ted Parsons, Ray Bridgman, William Dugan, Douglas MacMonagle, Walter Lovell, Harold Willis, Henry Jones, David Peterson and  Antoine de Maison-Rouge. Seated (left to right) Dudley Hill, Didier Masson with "Soda," William Thaw, Georges Thénault, Raoul Lufbery with "Whiskey," Charles Johnson, Stephen Bigelow and Robert Rockwell.  

French borne American, Raoul Lufbery who was its highest scoring ace.
The statistics were impressive. By some accounts, the pilots flew 3,000 sorties in exchange for 9 pilots killed. The 42 fliers had 40 confirmed victories and 100 probabile victories. American pilots accounted for 35 of those, and Lufbery 17 of that 35. The French officers accounted for the other 5.
At the end of 1917 the escadrille would pass from the French service to the United States Air Service. The name would change from the elegant “La Fayette Escadrille” to the more mundane 103rd Aero Squadron. 

Informal photograph of Gervais Raoul Lufbery and the Lafayette Escadrille’s mascot 'Whiskey' wrestling on the ground. Chaudun, July 1917. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

French ace, Adolphe Pégoud

On this date in 1915, Adolphe Pégoud scores his fourth and fifth aerial victories, becoming history 's first ace, although the designation is not widely known or accepted. Pegoud had been a pre-war daredevil pilot and a publicist of his own efforts to demonstrate aviation to the public. The French newspapers described him as a “Volant l’As” (Flying Ace).

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Sunday, April 1, 2018

Canadian ace, William Avery Bishop

“At 15, Bishop had his first experience with aviation: he built an aircraft out of cardboard, wood crates and string, and "flew" off the roof of his three-story house. He was dug, unharmed, out of the wreckage by his sister”.

Bishop attended the Royal Military College before joining the 8th Canadian Mounted Rifles at the beginning of the war. After serving overseas with the Canadian Expeditionary Force, he transferred to the Royal Flying Corps in December 1915 and received his pilot's certificate in 1917. 

Flying Nieuport scouts and the S.E.5a, "The Lone Hawk" was considered by some to be a mediocre pilot, but his extraordinary eyesight and consistent practice earned him a reputation as a crack shot.

As the commanding officer of the "Flying Foxes," he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross(DFC) after scoring 25 victories in just twelve days. On the morning of 2 June 1917, his single-handed attack against a German aerodrome on the Arras front earned him the Victoria Cross, making Bishop the first Canadian flyer to receive this honor. Before the war ended, he found time to write "Winged Warfare," an autobiographical account of his exploits in the air over France.

He was officially credited with 72 victories, making him the top Canadian ace of the war.
Because Bishop flew many of his patrols alone, most of his victories were never witnessed.

"[Like] nearly all other pilots who come face to face with the [enemy] in the air for the first time, I could hardly realize that these were real live, hostile machines. I was fascinated by them and wanted to circle about and have a good look at them." William Bishop

Thursday, March 29, 2018

The Hamble Baby

Parnall-built Baby

In terms of new design thinking, the most important aircraft built by Fairey in the years before the legendary Fairey Fox was not one of their own, but a redesigned version of the Sopwith Baby single-seat seaplane. 

This variant, named the Hamble Baby, was the first production aircraft to be fitted with a practical system of adjustable trailing-edge flaps as a means of increasing lift for take-off and landing.

The Hamble Baby was produced at Hayes and Hamble by Fairey and also by Parnall & Sons at Bristol , under a sub-contract arrangement, - the latter company making very much the greater number if their Hamble Baby Converts are included.

These variants were fitted with land undercarriages and were used for training by the RNAS - notably at Cranwell. The Converts had their floats replaced by skids, to which the straight axle for the wheels was attached by rubber bungee cords; as the geometry of the undercarriage struts remained unchanged, the result was a very wide-track undercarriage which must have been appreciated for training work.

The Parnall-built Babies, including the Converts, could be distinguished from Fairey-built aircraft by the fact that they retained the Sopwith fins and rudders.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

German ace, Friedrich "Fritz" Ritter von Röth

Röth, like many WWl pilots, started military service on the ground. He served originally in an artillery regiment where he was seriously wounded early in the war. Once fit for duty, he transferred to the aerial service and was commissioned, in May 1915. Again Röth was severely injured in a crash during training and due to his extended recuperation, he did not win his wings until early 1917. 
His initial assignment was to a Bavarian artillery spotting unit. 
At some point, he served in Jasta 34, but did not score any victories until being assigned to Jasta 23.

Of his own admission Roth was a poor shot and it would not be until January of 1918 that he scored his first three victories. On that day, he shot down 3 enemy balloons in less than ten minutes. Convinced he had found his niche he concentrated upon balloon busting.
His decision meant he took upon himself one of the most hazardous duties of WWI fighter aviation. Balloons flew at a known altitude, antiaircraft guns ringing them were extremely accurate. The balloons were low enough that an attacker was exposed to small arms fire as well. Protective fighters also lurked in the vicinity. The balloons were so well defended as they were an important part of the artillery fire direction.

Roth finished the war at Jasta 16 and had established a reputation as a modest idealist, pious and courageous. By the end of the war, he was Germany's highest scoring balloon-buster. Of his 28 confirmed victories, 20 of them were balloons.
He was awarded the Iron Cross, the Cross of the Royal House of Hohenzollern, the Knight's Cross of Military Order of Maximillian-Joseph and the Pour le Mérite.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

The Airco DH.4 light bomber.

The Airco DH.4 was was the first British two-seat light day-bomber to have an effective defensive armament. 
Designed by Geoffrey de Havilland (hence "DH") for Airco, and it first flew in August 1916 and entered service with the Royal Flying Corps, No. 55 Squadron in France in March 1917. 
The majority of DH.4s were actually built as general purpose two-seaters in the United States, for service with the American forces in France.


The DH.4 was tried with several engines, of which the best was the 375 hp (280 kW) Rolls-Royce Eagle engine. Armament and ordnance for the aircraft consisted of one 0.303 in (7.7 mm) Vickers machine gun for the pilot and one 0.303 in (7.7 mm) Lewis gun on a Scarff ring mounting for the observer. Two 230 lb (100 kg) bombs or four 112 lb (51 kg) bombs could be carried.

"Air mechanics fixing small and large bombs to an Airco DH.4 day bomber at Serny Aerodrome, 17 February 1918."