Monday, March 20, 2017

Erich Lowenhardt

Was one of the German Air Service's highest-scoring fighter pilots of the First World War. Born on 7 April 1897 in Breslau, Germany.
At the age of 17 Lowenhardt began his military service with a German Army infantry regiment. Twice wounded he received the Iron Cross 2nd class in late 1914 and in early 1915 the Iron Cross 1st class for saving the lives of five wounded men.
Having successfully negotiating a transfer to the German Air Service, he then completed pilot training in 1916. Served in two-seaters with Flieger-Abteilung until January 1917, when he underwent conversion training for fighters. He joined Jasta 10 in March 1917 and that same month he scored his first confirmed aerial victory, destroying an enemy observation balloon over Recicourt, Belgium.

Flying Albatros and Pfalz planes, Lowenhardt rapidly established a reputation as a fearless and aggressive skilled fighter whose victories grew steadily. By the end of September he became an ace and in that same month he was wounded, for the third time.

On 1 April, just before his 21st birthday, he was appointed to command Jasta 10. The following month, Jasta 10 was re-equipped with new Fokker D.VIIs. Löwenhardt would have his new Fokker painted yellow.

In May of 1918 he scored his 24th victory and was awarded the prestigious Pour le Merite the same month. He would go on to amass 54 victories by the summer of 1918.

His death came in a mid-air collision near Chaulnes, in August of 1918. Following the collision with fellow Jasta pilot Alfred Wenz, both men jumped from their planes, but Löwenhardt was killed when his parachute failed to open.

His loss proved a blow to the German Air Service.

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