Monday, March 13, 2017

Ernst Udet


Ernst Udet 1.jpg

Udet started his military career as a motorcycle messenger with the Württemberg Reserve Division in 1914. He learned to fly by taking private lessons and entered the German Air Force in September 1915. 


Ernst Udet left to right Pfälzer, Weingärtner, Udet, Glinkermann.jpg
 left to right Pfälzer, Weingärtner, Udet, Glinkermann
 Udet started his military career as a motorcycle messenger with the Württemberg Reserve Division in 1914. He learned to fly by taking private lessons and entered the German Air Force in September 1915. 

Udet at first flew in an observation unit as an non-commissioned pilot with observer Leutnant Justinius. He and his observer won the Iron Cross (2nd class for Udet and 1st class for his lieutenant)for nursing their damaged Aviatik B.I two-seater back to German lines after a shackle on a wing-cable snapped. Justinius had climbed out to hold the wing and balance it rather than landing behind the enemy lines and being captured.


Ernst Udet 3.jpg

At one point, Udet was court-martialed for losing an aircraft in an incident the flying corps considered a result of bad judgement. Overloaded with fuel and bombs, the aircraft stalled after a sharp bank and plunged to the ground. Miraculously, both Udet and Justinius survived with only minor injuries.

Udet was placed under arrest in the guardhouse for seven days. Upon his release from the guardhouse, he was asked to fly Leutnant Hartmann to observe a bombing raid on Belfort. A bomb thrown by hand by the leutnant became stuck in the landing gear, but Udet performed aerobatics and managed to shake it loose. As soon as the Air Staff Officer heard about Udet's performance during the incident, he ordered Udet transferred to the fighter command.


Ernst Udet 2.jpg

Flying a Fokker D.III, he scored his first victory on 18 March 1916 in a lone attack against 22 French aircraft. He scored five more victories with Jasta 15 and reportedly dueled with Georges Guynemer in June 1917. Udet would later write that during the dogfight, his guns jammed and the French ace broke off his attack when he saw Udet pounding on the breech of his machine gun. On 26 July 1917, he transferred to Jasta 37 where he scored fifteen victories. From there he transferred to Jasta 11 in March 1918 and Jasta 4 in May 1918. On 26 September 1918 he was wounded in the thigh. All of the aircraft he flew in combat were marked with "LO!" on the fuselage in honor of his fiancée, Eleonore Zink. Udet was the highest scoring German ace to survive World War I. Scoring 62 confirmed victories.

Ernst Udet 4.jpg


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