Monday, January 30, 2017

James McCudden

James McCudden joined his father in the Royal Engineers as a 15 year old bugler in 1910. By the time war was declared, he was an aircraft mechanic with 3 Squadron in the Royal Flying Corps. 
One of three brothers to serve with the R.F.C., he saw combat in France as an observer and gunner before returning to England for flight training in 1916. 
Flight Sergeant McCudden received Royal Aero Club Aviator's Certificate 2745 on a Maurice Farman biplane at Gosport on 16 April 1916. 
His talents as a pilot were so extraordinary that he became an instructor within days of receiving his aviator's certificate. By the beginning of April 1918, 22 year old James McCudden was the most decorated pilot in the Royal Air Force. 
Sadly, he was killed three months later when his aircraft stalled after take off and crashed to the ground.

London—Wherever flying men or men interested in flying meet today, be it in Britain or at the British front in France, there is only one name on their lips. It is that of Capt. James Byford McCudden, who has just been awarded the Victoria cross, the most honorable decoration that British valor can win, and who, in receiving it, has been officially revealed as the greatest and most successful air fighter, living or dead, that the allies have yet produced. Captain McCudden, who is only twenty-two, has a bigger bag of hostile machines brought down than Bishop, Guynemer or Ball, or any other flying man that the war has brought forward, with the single exception of Baron von Richthofen, who recently was killed in action.
McCudden's record of hostile machines accounted for up to February 27 is 54. Of these 42 were definitely destroyed—four of them in just 90 minutes, 19 falling on the British side of the lines. Only 12 out of the 54 were driven down out of control.The Gettysburg Times (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania) - Tuesday, May 14, 1918

Regarding his early service flying F.E.2Ds with 20 Squadron and DH2s with 29 Squadron. He wrote in his memoir "I was very sorry to leave my cumbersome old F.E., for those aeroplanes had certainly earned for themselves the wholesome respect of the German pilots, and with good cause too"

The 250 HP Rolls Royce engine

"One felt very safe indeed flying a Rolls F.E. At that time the F.E. with the 250hp Rolls was a wonderful machine, and the way our observers and pilots used to climb around the capacious nacelle was most amusing. In fact, on patrol, up high, I sometimes stood on my seat and looked over the tail, the machine was so steady and stable".

"My observer never liked this part of the performance, especially when one day I was doing it and one of my gloves blew off into the propeller, which shed a blade, and nearly wrecked the machine before I could reach my seat and throttle my engine down".

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