Monday, May 29, 2017

Eduard Ritter von Schleich



Born in Munich, Bavaria in 1888, Schleich, enrolled in the Bavarian Army cadet program shortly after school and in 1909 was commissioned into the 11th Bavarian Infantry Regiment. 
Before the outbreak of the First World War, Schleich was plagued by medical problems and was released from active duty. 
He volunteered again and in August 1914 was badly wounded in the Battle of Lorraine.

While Schleich was recovering from his wounds of August 1914 he decided to volunteer for the Royal Bavarian Air Service and was accepted for training as an observer. 
After service with FEA 1 on two-seaters, he applied for pilot training and qualified in September 1915. 
In October 1915 he joined FA 2b, and in January 1916, during an observation flight, Schleich was wounded in the arm by an exploding anti-aircraft shell. Instead of returning to base, while still in the air he had his crewman bandage his wound and then completed his assignment. He was decorated with the Iron Cross First Class for this action. The wound meant he did not see further active service until September, when he assumed command of Fliegerschule 1. 


He joined Jasta 21 in May 1917 and commanded the unit from June onwards. Prior to his leadership, Jasta 21 had a lacklustre combat record and low morale, but under Schleich within a month the Jasta had downed 36 enemy aircraft, 19 of them credited to Schleich personally.

When Leutnant Erich Limpert, his best friend on the Jasta, was killed in a dogfight, Schleich ordered his plane to be painted all black. This black plane soon led to Schleich being dubbed 'The Black Knight'.


Ongoing Prussian and Bavarian political arguments over a non-Prussian commanding a Prussian fighter unit caused a new Bavarian Jasta to be formed, and in October 1917 Schleich was reassigned to command Jasta 32, with his tally of kills then at 25.
At war's end Schleich was commanding Jasta 21 and his total score was 35.


Schleich's decorations would be;
Iron Cross of 1914, 1st and 2nd class (December 1917)

Order Pour le Mérite (December 1917)

Knight's Cross of the Military Order of Max Joseph (June 1918)



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Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Austin Motor Company SE 5




Austin's first government contract was for the RE 7 plane with production commencing September 1915. Fifty two planes were delivered.
The revised version, called RE 8, was developed and a order for 300 placed. In 1918 a order was placed for 350 SE 5 planes. The military was so pleased with the quality of Austin's aircraft that the order was revised several times, ending with a total of 1550. 
At the start of this contract the delivery schedule was one plane per day (24hrs). With the larger numbers required, production rose steadily to an average of 30 per week. From Monday 3 June to Saturday in six days they turned out sixty three planes. 
Airplane construction in those days was very much like airplane modeling. 


The body of a plane contained thousands of separate and accurately made pieces of wood which were then assembled together. 
One of the grey arts was the ‘doping’ of the canvas, because if not done correctly the canvas skin would be too tight and so was likey to tear, if loose it was not very aerodynamic and would also tear. The Austin dope-room was regarded as the best in the country because it was fully ventilated along with a controlled temperature. At this time all this experimental work and production need skilled men who could manufacture the aircraft, At the time the SE 5s were being built, Austin at Longbridge, employed around 130 aircraft carpenters and about 200 riggers and fitters.



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Monday, May 22, 2017

Armand Pinsard


Pinsard was born in Nercillac, Department of Charente, in the cognac country of France. He joined the military in 1906 and fought in Morocco as a cavalryman in 2nd Regiment de Spahis.
He then transferred to aviation in May 1912, becoming one of the rare professional military men to become a prewar pilot. He trained as a pilot at Chateau Fort on a Borel pusher two seater aircraft, and proved to be a natural.


In September 1914, he was promoted to adjutant and received his first citation. In October, he participated in a bombing raid that attempted to kill the German Kaiser. He was commissioned in November 1914 because of this bombing raid. It was about this time that he pioneered the use of an aircraft to place an espionage agent behind enemy lines, an act that brought him a second citation.

In February 1915, he fell into German hands and was held prisoner of war when his plane was forced down behind German lines. It took him a month to recover from injuries received in the accident. Thirteen months and several attempts later, Pinsard tunneled under a prison wall to freedom. It took him another two weeks to cross the lines into neutral Switzerland and to repatriate himself on April 10, 1915.

His reward for his daring escape was retraining as a fighter pilot and an assignment to France's foremost fighter squadron, Les Cigognes. By July 1916, he was flying a Nieuport with Squadron N26. On August 7th, in a pioneering close air support role, he made no fewer than six firing passes on German troops attempting to counterattack a French unit. Then he and his three wingmen went on to strafe a train loaded with German troops.


He was made a Chevalier of the Légion d'honneur for this action, the citation read;
"Has shown, under particularly difficult circumstances, exceptional energy and tenacity. Posted to an escadrille de chasse, at his request, he has had numerous combats during the course of which his plane was riddled by bullets. On 7 August 1916, during an infantry attack, he made six strafing runs from a height of 200 meters as German reserves massed for a counter attack. Already cited twice." 

After a winter's layoff, he resumed his winning way on January 23rd 1917, flying as Commanding Officer of Squadron N78. He became an ace on March 6th, and would continue to fly Nieuports into battle until his 16th victory in June, 1917.
Just one week later, Pinsard crashed and suffered serious injuries. He would be confined to hospital for several months. Upon his recovery, he was appointed commanding officer of Squadron Spa23.
Pinsard was entrusted with the first Spad VII fighter to see combat, on August 23rd, 1917. He painted it black and entitled it, Revanche IV ("Revenge IV").



He picked up his victory count with his 17th triumph on February 20th 1918. With his next win, on May 4th, he began a string that saw him down nine observation balloons in his final decade of wins. Rather remarkably, he had help downing only one of the heavily defended balloons. 
His 27th victory came on August 22nd, 1918. 

Pinsard's Officier de la Légion d'Honneur citation read;
"Incomparable escadrille commander, and at the same time an admirable pilot. Constant example of self-denial, spirit and sacrifice, a model of bravery, audacity and strength. Possesses the highest qualities of a leading pilot. Seriously wounded in 1917, he returned to take his place at the front and continue his glorious exploits, bringing his total to 25 victories. Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur for feats of war, cited 13 times in army orders." 

Image result for Officier de la Légion d'Honneur
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Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Albatros

D.l

Albatros Flugzeugwerke GmbH were responsible for some of the most graceful and effective fighters of the Great War. Their twin gun, semi-monocoque plywood Albatros D.1 powered by a 160PS Daimler Mercedes D.III engine arrived at the front in September 1916 and achieved instant air superiority over its main opposition of Nieuport 11 and DH.2 fighters. 


Followed immediately by the slightly improved D.II and in December by the much improved D.III with a V strutted sesqiplane wing greatly influenced by the successful Neiuport fighters. The D.III was more maneuverable than the D.II and its single spar lower "half" wing afforded greater visibility for the pilot but was also the cause of numerous, and usually fatal, structural failures. Despite much effort this problem was never completely resolved. Nevertheless the D.III remained in production well into late 1917.


D.lll

Even as the excellent D.III went into production plans were underway for its successor, the Albatros D.V. Retaining the wings of the D.III but with aileron controls routed through the upper wing and with a redesigned fuselage completely oval in section, the D.V was arguably the best looking of all Albatros designs. Unfortunately it inherited the lower wing structural failure problem of the D.III and turned out to not be any real improvement over its predecessor. Despite this the Albatros D.V, along with the slightly re-designed D.Va, was manufactured in greater numbers than any previous German fighter of the war, only surpassed later by the Fokker D.VII.


Albatros D.V Karl Schattauer - Jasta 16b 

The D.V. first appeared in May 1917 and would soon be outclassed by the improved SE.5a, Sopwith Camel and SPAD fighters being fielded by the allies at the time.

However, in the hands of a talented pilot the beautiful (and plentiful), Albatros D.V and D.Va were quite capable of holding their own. Flown by most of Germany’s top aces of the time, Albatros D.Vs continued to provide good service even when superseded by the newer Fokker Dr.1, Pfalz D.III and IIIa fighters.

Albatros D.Va  Ltn. Hans Joachim von Hippel Jasta 5

Albatros D.Va 

Even after the introduction of the superb Fokker D.VII, Albatros D.Vs could still be found equipping frontline Jastas right up to the armistice, though most had been relegated to training duties by this time. 
(credit the Vintage Aviator for text)









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Monday, May 15, 2017

Josef "Seppl" Veltjens



Veltjens was born in Geldern, Rhineland, Imperial Germany. August 1914, at the age of 20 he enlisted in the Kaiserin Augusta Guards Regiment. Four days later, he and his regiment were at the front. He rapidly rose to the rank of Vizefeldwebel (literally vice-sergeant). After several requests, toward the end of 1915, he transferred to the German Air Force and was assigned to Flieger Abteilung 23 in May 1916. His skills as a reconnaissance pilot were quickly recognized and by March 1917, he was flying single-seat fighters with Jasta 14 and scored his first five victories.

Veltjens was re-assigned to Jasta 18 in August of 1917. Here he scored his ninth victory in November to close out 1917. He marked up his tenth victory in February, 1918.

Veltjens' aircraft were often easily identified by a barbed arrow painted on the fuselage.


The following month, Commander Rudolf Berthold of Jasta 18, transferred to Jasta 15.
It became an interesting swap, in which Berthold took his pilots with him when he transferred; Jasta 15's pilots in turn became Jasta 18. The exchange meant Berthold, Veltjens, and the rest of the pilots would be re-equipped with the new Fokker D.VII.
In May, 1918, Veltjens would temporarily assume command of Jasta 15, when Berthold was wounded and again in August 1918, serving as its commanding officer until the end of the war.

He ended the war with 35 victories. He was awarded Pour le Mérite, the Royal House Order of Hohenzollern, and the Iron Cross.







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Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Vickers Vimy


was a British heavy bomber designed by Reginald Pierson, Vicker's chief designer. It was developed during the latter stages of the First World War. Only a handful of aircraft had entered service by the time that the Armistice of 11 November 1918 came into effect, thus the type was not used in active combat operations during the conflict. 


The Vimy did become the core of the RAF's heavy bomber force throughout the 1920s and achieved success as both a military and civil aircraft, the latter using the Vimy Commercial model of the type.

During the interwar period, the Vimy set several notable records for long-distance flights; perhaps the most celebrated and significant of these was the first non-stop crossing of the Atlantic Ocean.

Related image
Alcock and Brown Vimy
British aviators John Alcock and Arthur Brown made the first non-stop transatlantic flight in June 1919. They flew a modified First World War Vickers Vimy bomber from St. John's, Newfoundland, to Clifden, Connemara, County Galway, Ireland.


Captain Smith's Vimy
In 1919 the Australian government offered £10,000 for the first All-Australian crew to fly an aeroplane from England to Australia. Australian pilot Captain Ross Smith persuaded the Vickers company to supply a Vimy bomber for entry into the first England to Australia flight. Piloted by Smith it became the first aircraft to do so.

The Vimy Commercial was a civilian version with a larger-diameter fuselage (largely of spruce plywood) and first flew on 13 April 1919.


Vimy Commercial, "City of London"


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Monday, May 8, 2017

Max Immelmann


Max Immelmann 2.jpg


A former graduate of the Dresden Cadet School, Immelmann was called to active service when World War I started. He soon transferred to the Imperial German Flying Corps and was sent for pilot training at Johannisthal Air Field in November 1914. He was initially stationed in northern France.
The twenty four year old Immelmann was an introvert; his closest friends seemed to be his mother and his dog, Tyras. No carousing and dancing with the young girls for him.

Immelmann served as a pilot with Field Flier Detachment 10 from February to April 1915, and then in FFA 62 by early May 1915. On several occasions he engaged in combat while flying the L.V.G. two-seaters with which his units were equipped, but never with any success. On 3 June 1915, he was shot down by a French pilot but managed to land safely behind German lines. Immelmann was decorated with the Iron Cross, Second Class for preserving his aircraft.


Fokker EIII - Max Immelmann.jpg


Two very early examples of the Fokker Eindeckers were delivered to the unit, one for Oswald Boelcke's use, with Immelmann later in July receiving a production Fokker E.I for his own use. It was with this aircraft that he gained his first confirmed air victory of the war on 1 August 1915.
Immelmann quickly built an impressive score of air victories. During September, three more victories followed, and then in October he became solely responsible for the air defense of the city of Lille. Immelmann became known as The Eagle of Lille. He gained two further victories during September, to become the first German ace.

Immelmann flirted with the position of Germany's leading ace, trading that spot off with Oswald Boelcke. Having come second to Boelcke for his sixth victory, he was second to be awarded the Royal House Order of Hohenzollern for this feat.

Later the 
Order of Hohenzollern medal became unofficially known as the "Blue Max" in the German Air Service in honor of Immelmann.

On 15 December, Immelmann shot down his seventh British plane and moved into an unchallenged lead in the competition to be Germany's leading ace.
By the end of May of 1916, Immelmann's victories had mounted to 15.



Max Immelmann.jpg


On June 18, Immelmann engaged some aircraft of RFC Squadron 25. According to British accounts, gunfire from an FE-2 piloted by Lt. G.R. McCubbin and gunned by Cpl. J. H. Waller hit Immelmann's Fokker and it dived into the ground, resulting in his death. 

Perhaps the notion that a lowly two-seater FE-2 had brought down their leading ace, the Germans announced that he had been downed by anti-aircraft fire. This explanation also suited Tony Fokker, who filed a report noting that "the fuselage had been shot in two by shrapnel fire."

Other sources, including Max's brother Franz, blamed the interrupter gear, and claimed that amongst the wreckage, his propeller had been found, shot away right in line with his own guns. Most authorities concur with this explanation, but like so many events of World War One's aerial combat, the death of Max Immelmann remains obscured by conflicting reports and uncertainty.



Max Immelmann 3.jpg



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Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Linke-Hoffman R.ll Bomber



This was the final R-bomber of the Linke-Hoffman Company. The R.II was an approximately three-fold scale-up of a conventional single-engined biplane, with a conventional tractor biplane layout and a single propeller in the nose, the unusual design of the R.II only really becomes apparent once the crew provides a sense of scale.

Powered by a quartet of Mercedes D.IVa inline-six engines turning a single 22 foot tractor propeller, the largest single propeller ever used to propel any aircraft in aviation history. The quartet of Mercedes power plants were arranged in pairs in the central fuselage and drove the propeller through clutches, shafts and gearboxes. The engine arrangement allowed for inflight maintenance and the R.II could shut down up to two engines during flight.
Required a crew of six, with defensive guns placed in two dorsal and one ventral position.


The Linke-Hofmann R.II, probably the largest single propeller driven aircraft that will ever be built, had a wingspan of 135 feet, length of 76 feet and height of 23 feet. Gross weight of 26,460 pounds.
The airframe was constructed largely of wood, with plywood covering the forward fuselage and a steel-tube v-strut chassis main undercarriage with two wheels and a tail-skid at the aft end of the fuselage.




Unfortunately, the R.II wouldn’t fly before the end of the war. Only in 1919 did it make its first flight, demonstrating a standard endurance of 7 hours and estimated maximum endurance of 30 hours. “It was said to be an eerie, weird experience to fly in it - the propeller was geared down to 545 rpm”.

Linke-Hofmann hoped to salvage their work in the aftermath of the Armistice by turning the R.II into a 12 passenger airliner, but the conditions of the Versailles treaty put an end to the project.






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Monday, May 1, 2017

Lanoe G. Hawker



Growing up, he became very interested in mechanics and engineering and later entered the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich. He qualified as a second lieutenant in the Royal Engineers in 1911, but an increasing interest in flying led him to train as a pilot. He joined the Royal Flying Corps (RFC)'s Central Flying School in August 1914.
Hawker was posted to France in October 1914, as a captain with No. 6 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps, flying Henri Farmans. The squadron converted to the RAF B.E. 2c and he undertook numerous reconnaissance missions into 1915.

On 22 April he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for attacking a German zeppelin shed at Gontrode by dropping hand grenades at low level (below 200 ft) from his B.E.2c.



Hawker was a natural pilot and his aggressive tactics saw him become the first flying 'ace' of the RFC.

The 6th squadron received several single seat Bristol Scouts, and some early F.E.2 'pushers'.
One Scout that Hawker, with assistance from Air Mechanic Ernest Elton (who later became an Ace Pilot himself), equipped with their design of Lewis gun mount, enabling the machine gun to fire forward obliquely at an acute horizontal angle to the axis of flight, missing the propeller arc.
On 25 July 1915, in that Scout he brought down three German aircraft near Ypres and by September 1915, Hawker had added four more victories. 



Although Hawker received only seven credited victories, historians feel his score could have been over fifty aircraft, as the British kept no records of aircraft destroyed in those early days.

Also in the same month Hawker was sent home to take command of the newly-formed 24 Squadron, RFC. This fighter unit was the first to be equipped exclusively with Airco DH2 single-seater scouting aircraft intended for combat. As a 'pusher' with the engine located behind the pilot, the DH2 had a good field of fire for its Lewis gun mounted at the front.

Hawker led 24 Squadron to France in February 1916 and established it at Bertangles, north of the Somme. It was during this period that he invented the fleece-lined, thigh-length boots that became known as 'fug boots' and later became standard issue.
Hawker's innovative ideas at this time greatly benefited the still fledgling RFC. He helped to invent the Prideaux disintegrating link machine-gun belt feed, and initiated the practice of putting fabric protective coverings on the tips of wooden propellers and devising a primitive 'rocking fuselage' for target practice on the ground. In 1916 he also developed (with W.L. French) the increased capacity 97-round 'double drum' for the Lewis machine gun.





In early 1916, the German Fokker E1 monoplane was still dominant over the Western Front. But the arrival of 24 Squadron, motivated by Hawker's concise philosophy - 'Attack Everything!' - soon helped the Royal Flying Corps to turn the balance. On 1 July, the opening day of the Battle of the Somme, the squadron flew a number of patrols and Hawker personally led two reconnaissances. Soon, British airpower dominated the skies over the Somme and 24 Squadron had claimed 70 victories by November.

In September 1916, the arrival of new German aircraft once again shifted the balance of power away from the Royal Flying Corps. On 23 November, a week after the Battle of the Somme ended, Hawker took part in a patrol near Bapaume. 
After attacking up to eight German aircraft over Achiet, he began a long dogfight with one in particular. The pilot was German 'ace' Manfred von Richthofen, who later wrote, 'I discovered that I was not meeting a beginner. He had not the slightest intention of breaking off the fight…' The battle lasted for more than 30 minutes until, with Hawker running out of fuel, he was finally brought down and killed, von Richthofen's eleventh victim. Hawker was aged just 25 when he died.

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