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TOPIC: Great War Pilot Profiles

Great War Pilot Profiles 6 years 3 months ago #141854

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Eddie Rickenbacker the greatest American ace of WWI and winner of the MOH(not to mention race car driver and car designer):

Eddie Rickenbacker - Early Life:

Born October 8, 1890, as Edward Reichenbacher, Eddie Rickenbacker was the son of German-speaking Swiss immigrants who had settled in Columbus, OH. He attended school until the age of twelve, when following the death of his father, he ended his education to help support his family. Mechanically inclined, Rickenbacker soon was working in a machine shop for the Pennsylvania Railroad. This led to employment with the Frayer Miller Aircooled Car Company. As his skills developed, Rickenbacker began racing his employer's cars in 1910.

Eddie Rickenbacker - Auto Racing:

A successful driver, he earned the nickname "Fast Eddie" and participated in the 1912, 1914, 1915, and 1916 Indianapolis 500s. His best and only finish was placing 10th in 1914, with his car breaking down in the other years. Among his achievements was setting a race speed record of 134 mph while driving a Blitzen Benz. In addition to fame, racing proved extremely lucrative for Rickenbacker as he earned over $40,000 a year as a driver. During his time as a driver his interest in aviation increased as a result of various encounters with pilots.

Eddie Rickenbacker - World War I:

Intensely patriotic, Rickenbacker immediately volunteered for service upon the United States' entry into World War I. After having his offer to form a fighter squadron of racecar drivers refused, he was assigned to be the personal driver for the commander of the American Expeditionary Force, General John J. Pershing. It was during this time that Rickenbacker anglicized his last name to avoid anti-German sentiment. Still interested in aviation, Rickenbacker received a break when he was requested to repair the car of the chief of the US Army Air Service, Colonel Billy Mitchell.

Though considered old (he was 27) for flight training, Mitchell arranged for him to be sent to flight school at Issoudun. Upon completion of training, he was retained at Issoudun as an engineering officer due to his mechanical skills. Permitted to fly during his off hours, he was prevented from entering combat. After locating a suitable replacement for himself, he applied to Major Carl Spaatz for permission to join the newest US fighter unit, the 94th Aero Squadron. This request was granted and Rickenbacker arrived at the front in April 1918.

Flying his first mission on April 6, 1918, in company with veteran Major Raoul Lufbery, Rickenbacker would go on to log over 300 combat hours in the air. During this early period, the 94th occasionally encountered the famed "Flying Circus" of the "Red Baron," Manfred von Richthofen. On April 26, while flying a Nieuport 28, Rickenbacker scored his first victory when he brought down a German Pfalz. He achieved the status of ace on May 30 after downing two Germans in one day. In August the 94th transitioned to the newer, stronger SPAD S.XIII.

In this new aircraft Rickenbacker continued to add to his total and on September 24 was promoted to command the squadron with the rank of captain. On October 30, Rickenbacker downed his twenty-sixth and final aircraft making him the top American scorer of the war. Upon the announcement of the armistice, he flew over the lines to view the celebrations. Returning home, he became the most celebrated aviator in America. After speaking on a Liberty Bond tour, Rickenbacker wrote his memoirs entitled Fighting the Flying Circus.

Eddie Rickenbacker - Postwar:

Settling into postwar life, Rickenbacker married Adelaide Frost in 1922. The couple soon adopted two children, David (1925) and William (1928). That same year, he started Rickenbacker Motors with the goal of bringing racing-developed technology to the consumer auto industry. Though he was soon driven out of business by the larger manufacturers, Rickenbacker pioneered advances that later caught on such as four-wheel braking. In 1927, he purchased the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Operating the track until 1945, he introduced banked curves and significantly upgraded the facilities.

Continuing his connection to aviation, Rickenbacker bought Eastern Air Lines in 1938. Negotiating with the federal government to purchase air mail routes, he revolutionized how commercial airlines operated. During his tenure with Eastern he oversaw the company's growth from a small carrier to one that was influential on the national level. On February 26, 1941, Rickenbacker was nearly killed when the Eastern DC-3 on which he was flying crashed outside Atlanta. Suffering numerous broken bones, a paralyzed hand, and an expelled left eye, he spent months in the hospital but made a full recovery.

Eddie Rickenbacker - World War II:

With the outbreak of World War II, Rickenbacker volunteered his services to the government. At the request of Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson, Rickenbacker visited various Allied bases in Europe to assess their operations. Impressed by his findings, Stimson dispatched him to the Pacific on a similar tour as well as to deliver a secret message to General Douglas MacArthur. En route, his plane went down in the Pacific. Adrift for 24 days, Rickenbacker led the survivors in catching food and water until they were rescued.

In 1943, Rickenbacker requested permission to travel to the Soviet Union to aid with their American-built aircraft and to assess their military capabilities. This was granted and he reached Russia via Africa, China, and India. While he successfully accomplished his mission, the trip is best remembered for his error in alerting the Soviets to the secret B-29 Superfortress project.

Eddie Rickenbacker - World War II

With the war concluded, Rickenbacker returned to Eastern. He remained with the company until a downturn in economic conditions forced him from his position as CEO in 1959. He stayed on as chairman of the board until December 31, 1963. Now 73, Rickenbacker and his wife began traveling the world enjoying retirement. The famed aviator died at Zurich, Switzerland on July 27, 1973, after suffering a stroke.

Edward Vernon Rickenbacker

Capt. E.V. "Eddie" Rickenbacker wearing the Medal of Honor. (U.S. Air Force photo)
Nickname Eddie
Fast Eddie
Born October 8, 1890
Columbus, Ohio
Died July 23, 1973 (aged 82)[1]
Zürich, Switzerland
Place of burial Columbus, Ohio
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army Air Service
Years of service 1917–1919
Rank Major
Commands held 94th Aero Squadron
Battles/wars World War I
Awards
Medal of Honor
Distinguished Service Cross (9)
World War I Victory Medal
Legion of Honor
Croix de Guerre











RIP CRAZYWOLF


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Great War Pilot Profiles 6 years 3 months ago #141926

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Longrifle, many thanks for dreaming up this thread. For my part, a fascination with the Great War lay on the illusion of it as the last "honorable" war. Don't really hold to that too much, but the air war is full of these tales of chivalry that match anything offered by the round table. One of my favorites was the match up between Ernst Udet (probably second only to Von Richtofen) and the French ace, Georges Guynemer. Both were notorious solo hunters. During their engagement, Udets guns jammed. Guynemer continued to maneuver for the kill, but once iit was clear he had Udets at his mercy, the Frenchman saluted him and left the scene. Sadly, he did not survive the war.

While there were many notable instances of honorable behavior on all sides in WWII, I think it is difficult to separate the horrors and abuses of Nazism from those who wore that uniform. So, even though there are many individual cases of honorable behavior by uniformed Germans during that war, what that regime ultimately represented tarnished them all. Similarly. The flash point of Pearl Harbor seems to make it very difficult for many Americans (and others) to find anything admirable in Japanese conduct during that war.

Now, before anyone gets their pants in a wad, I am personally trying to rationalize my, and just possibly some others', fascination with WWI. . My feelings/judgements about WWII regimes/actions are my own...opinions! I clearly follow my interests/views as a product of American/Western European indoctrination. As such, I don't give much credence to Axis justifications for what becomes WWII. OK, I am off my soap box...but thanks again, Longrifle... :cheer:

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Great War Pilot Profiles 6 years 3 months ago #141946

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The edelveiss! That's what that is on the level 5 German plane! Thanks for the profiles of Bäumer and Rickenbacker. The pics made me thin of starting another thread with paintings of various WWI aircraft, but that can wait until this one runs its course.

It's sometimes noted that when Rickenbacker (born reichenbacher, Anglicanized during the war to avoid anti-German sentiment) first started flying, he was often airsick.

I think its important to highlight a line in one of the Bäumer articles; he was one of just five awarded both the Pour le Merite and the Golden Military Merit Cross.

BT, I agree it's a morbid fascination, but even after having followed the trumpets and seen the carnage of a modern war, it still draws me to be a student of WWI aviation. Ever since I saw "Dawn Patrol" and read "Frank Luke; Balloon Buster" I've been hooked.
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Great War Pilot Profiles 6 years 3 months ago #141951

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Bea Tea

Not to take this out of WWI and into WWII, but I just finished reading the Rape of Nanking by Iris Chang. What the Japanese did to the Chinese was every bit as criminal and disgusting as what the Nazi's have done. The primary difference is the government of Japan will not even apologize. They prefer to act as if it never happened.


RIP CRAZYWOLF


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Great War Pilot Profiles 6 years 3 months ago #141964

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The Edelweiss was actually what helped me find out who the plane belonged too. I had a helluva time tracking that one down. I will eventually find all of the aircraft in the game. I've already found the next one. The German planes are easier to identify. The markings are very pilot specific. I had no clue what kind of flower that was on the side. The edelweiss should have been my first guess for the side of a German plane. I tried to find the significance of the star on the MORAF albie. Why he used it. No luck. I would have liked to known the story. The super personalized planes are one of the things I like about WW1 fighters.

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Great War Pilot Profiles 6 years 3 months ago #142847

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from Wikipedia:
Harold Ernest Goettler (July 21, 1890-October 6, 1918) was a U.S. Army Air Service aviator killed in action on October 6, 1918 while locating the Lost Battalion of the 77th Division during World War I. He died of wounds resulting from German fire from the ground during the flight. For his actions, he posthumously received the Medal of Honor. He attended the The University of Chicago, and the Harold E. Goettler Political Institutions Prize awarded to University of Chicago undergraduates is named in his honor.

The lost battalion is a battalion from ww1 that lost all communication to their superiors and ended up too far ahead on the lines, thus effectively disconnecting themselves from their flanks.
Such as is the case with the 20th Maine in the American Civil War, they brilliantly fought off wave after wave of German attack even through supply shortages.
Goettler was flying to locate the battalion and drop supplies as the first supply drop fell behind German lines. As he located the battalion, he circled overhead while getting the location on his map and was shot at by German rifle fire mortally wounding him.
The Allies found the crashed plane with the dead pilot clutching the map and were able to locate and evacuate the lost battalion.
Goettler received the medal of honor for his actions
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Great War Pilot Profiles 6 years 3 months ago #143571

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Below is a profile of one of the better known pilots, and highest scoring aces, Werner Voss, selected here simply due to the fact that both sides openly admired his skill and courage. Had it not been for the war, it's hard to say what he might have done in life, as to be admired so by one's foe is a great testament to character, but we are left only with his service record and quotes of those who flew with or against him.




Source: about.com/militaryhistory

Born at Krefeld, Germany on April 13, 1897, Werner Voss was the son of an industrial dyer. Educated locally, Voss was the youngest of five children. Completing his schooling in 1914, Voss volunteered for the Krefeld militia as war seemed inevitable. In November, three months after the beginning of World War I, Voss was transferred to the 2nd Westphalian Hussar Regiment. Serving on the Eastern Front, Voss proved a capable horse-soldier and earned the Iron Cross. When his regiment disbanded the following year, Voss, tired of the ground war, asked for a transfer to the Luftstreitkräfte (German Air Service).

Werner Voss - Learning to Fly:

Granted in August 1915, Voss received orders to report to Cologne to commence training. Assigned to Fliegerersatz-Abteilung 7 (FEA 7), he traveled to Egelsburg a month later for flying lessons. A natural pilot, Voss excelled and after graduating from training in February 1916, he was returned to FEA 7 as an instructor. Desiring service at the front, he accepted an assignment as an observer with Kampfstaffel 20. Receiving his pilot's certificate in May, he began flying for the unit until requesting a transfer to a fighter unit in September.

Werner Voss - Boelcke & Richthofen:

Promoted to lieutenant, Voss was able to join Captain Oswald Boelcke's elite Jasta 2 in November. Germany's foremost ace, Boelcke had assembled a formidable and talented unit that included Manfred von Richthofen (The Red Baron). Scoring his first two kills on November 27, Voss quickly proved a skilled fighter pilot. Flying for Boelcke, he rapidly added to his tally through the spring of 1917 and received the prestigious Pour le Merite in April with his score at 24. Despite his young age, Voss was appointed to command Jasta 5 on May 20, 1917.

Werner Voss - Flying for Richthofen:

This was soon followed by stints as the leader of Jastas 29 and 14. Wounded on June 6 during an engagement with 6 Naval Squadron, Royal Naval Air Service, he soon recovered. On July 30, Richthofen, who now led Jagdgeschwader 1, had Voss moved to his command and appointed him to lead Jasta 10. Openly acknowledged by Richthofen as his closest rival, Voss had 34 kills when he arrived while his commander had 57. Voss opened his account with Jasta 10 on August 10 when he downed a SPAD XIII south of Dixmude. A skilled engineer, Voss enjoyed altering and enhancing his Albatross D.III as well as tinkering with motorcycles.

Werner Voss - A New Aircraft:

In August 1917, Voss received one of two early model Fokker Dr.I triplanes that were sent to the front for testing (Richthofen received the other). Exceptionally pleased with the new aircraft's maneuverability and handling, he adopted the type for combat use. Personalizing the new fighter, he painted a face on the cowling. While leading Jasta 10, Voss added an additional fourteen kills to his total, the last being a D.H.4 south of Roulers on September 23, 1917. Returning to the skies later that day, Voss stood second behind Richthofen (61) in terms of kills.

Werner Voss - A Career Cut Short:

Commencing his patrol, Voss encountered B Flight of the elite No. 56 Squadron near Poelkapelle. Comprised of seven RAF S.E.5 fighters, B Flight was led by Captain James McCudden and consisted almost entirely of ace pilots. As the dogfight developed, Lieutenant Karl Menckhoff attempted to aid Voss but was downed by Lieutenant Arthur Rhys-Davids. Engaging McCudden's flight for ten minutes, Voss inflicted damage on each of the British aircraft while eluding their fire.

As the action continued, Captain Reginald Hoidge may have severely wounded Voss during an attack from the right. Most likely wounded, Voss flew straight for several moments allowing Rhys-Davids to attack from behind and inflict heavy damage. Critically hit, the Dr.I plummeted to the ground and crashed behind British lines near Frezenberg. Returning to base, the pilots of B Flight later marveled over Voss' performance. The skill Voss displayed led Rhys-Davids to comment, "If I could only have brought him down alive." Recovering Voss' body, it was later buried at the German war cemetery at Langemark.

Recalling the action, McCudden later commented:

"I shall never forget my admiration for that German pilot, who single handed, fought seven of us for ten minutes. I saw him go into a fairly steep dive and so I continued to watch, and then saw the triplane hit the ground and disappear into a thousand fragments, for it seemed to me that it literally went into powder."
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Great War Pilot Profiles 6 years 2 months ago #145419

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Francesco Baracca




Stolen from Wikipedia:

Baracca was born in Lugo di Romagna. He was the son of a wealthy landowner. The younger Baracca initially studied at a private school in Florence before entering the Military Academy of Modena in October 1907. As he had become a passionate equestrian as an antidote to classroom boredom, he became a cavalryman with the prestigious Piemonte Reale Cavalleria Regiment upon his commissioning in 1910. His first duty station allowed him to attend concerts and opera in Rome, as well as pursuing hunting and equestrian competitions; he gained some fame in the latter. This little idyll was spoiled by orders to a small town in central Italy. Baracca then became interested in aviation and learned to fly at Rheims, France, receiving his pilot's license on 9 July 1912.[1] He then served with the Battaglione Aviatori and in 1914 with the 5th and 6th Squadriglie.[citation needed]
World War I

During the months between the outbreak of World War I and Italy's entry into the war, there was intense political controversy in Italy between pro-war and pro-peace factions. Baracca remained aloofly neutral, but ready to serve his nation. After Italy's entry into the war on the Allied side in May 1915, he was sent to Paris to convert to Nieuport two-seaters. Upon his return in July, he was assigned to the 8a Squadriglia Nieuport. The Nieuport 10s that equipped this squadron were almost useless against Austro-Hungarian raids; they were too slow, with too slow a rate of climb, to bring the intruders to battle with any regularity. The frustrated Italian pilots even resorted to leaving their observers ground-bound in attempts to improve performance, to little avail. On those rare occasions when battle was joined, the Nieuports' guns usually jammed. Renaming the unit to 1a Squadriglia Caccia on 1 December 1915 did nothing to solve the problems.[2]

The Nieuport 11 single seat fighter with Lewis guns entered service in April 1916, and on 7 April, flying this new fighter, Baracca scored his first victory, holing the fuel tank of an Austrian Hansa-Brandenburg C.I and wounding its two-man crew. This was also Italy's first aerial victory in the war.[3][4] This first victory featured his favorite manoeuvre, which was to zoom in unseen behind and below an enemy and fire his machine gun from pistol range.[5]

It was around this time that Baracca adopted as a personal emblem a black prancing horse on his Nieuport 17, in tribute to his former cavalry regiment.[5] This prompted some to call him, "The Cavalier of the Skies".[citation needed] Flying the Nieuport 17 and then, from March 1917, the SPAD VII, he scored both individually, and in combination with other Italian aces.[6][7]

Baracca's second victory was an Austrian Lohner over Gorizia on 23 April 1916. After his third victory, he transferred to 70a Squadriglia.[4] Promoted to Capitano, Baracca remained with the unit until, with 9 victories, he transferred to the newly formed 91st Squadriglia, known as the "Squadron of the Aces", in 1 May 1917. By that time, his ever increasing list of victories had made him nationally famous. While he initially dodged the responsibilities and paperwork that went with command, he finally settled into heading the squadron.[5]

Baracca's friend Fulco Ruffo di Calabria nearly ended Baracca's career—and life—in June 1917. Ruffo di Calabria burst out of a cloud firing in a head-on pass at an enemy airplane, and barely missed Baracca. Later, on the ground, Baracca assured his companion, "Dear Fulco, next time, if you want to shoot me down, aim a couple of meters to the right. Now let's go for a drink and not talk of it any more!"[8]

Baracca temporarily upgraded to a Spad XIII in October 1917, using it to achieve a couple of victories on the 22nd, and on a win scored on a joint sortie with Pier Piccio on the 25th. That night he wrote: "I had my SPAD shot up and its longeron broken into pieces by enemy machine gun fire in an aerial dogfight." As a result, Baracca returned to the more manoeuvrable Spad VII, remarking, "It doesn't matter if the VII is equipped with a single gun. Provided you are a good fighter, a single gun is just enough." Nevertheless, after repair, he sometimes returned to the Spad XIII.[9]

A dedicated fighter pilot, Baracca found life away from the front unbearable and remained as much as possible with the 91st Squadriglia, even after being promoted to Maggiore in November 1917.[citation needed] Baracca remained a modest, sensitive man conscious of his duty and compassionate to both his squadron comrades and to his defeated enemies. He would try to visit his victims in hospital afterwards, to pay his respects, or he would place a wreath on the grave of those he killed.[5] He had raised his score to 30 by the end of 1917.[7]

Soon afterwards, Baracca, Piccio, and Ruffo di Calabria were tasked with evaluating the new Ansaldo A.1 Balilla fighter. Baracca was personally decorated by King Victor Emmanuel III at La Scala at this time. It was March 1918 before Baracca convinced his superiors that he belonged back at the front. He was not long back before he found himself in a situation similar to the previous late October: his squadron was forced to withdraw by enemy advances on 27 April. It was about this time that he adopted the griffin as an insignia for the planes in his unit. Most of his pilots adopted it, though some still flaunted the prancing stallion as a gesture of respect for their commander.[10]
Death

Baracca saw little action in 1918, but he added more victories, for a total of 34, before failing to return from a strafing mission on the Montello hill area on 19 June.[4] The Italians were taking advantage of their air supremacy to fly treetop ground attack missions into a storm of small arms fire. In the 0630 troop support mission, Baracca and rookie pilot Tenente Franco Osnago were hit by ground fire and split from one another. A few minutes later, both Baracca's home airfield and Osnago saw a burning airplane fall.[11] According to other sources, Baracca had left Osnago to provide him with top cover as he dived on the enemy trenches. Osnago lost sight of his commander, then he saw something burning in a nearby valley.[12] Some days later, on 24 June, after an Austro-Hungarian retreat, Baracca's remains were recovered from where they lay, four meters from the burnt remnants of his Spad VII.[11] A monument in his memory was later built on the site. Osnago, Ferruccio Ranza, and a journalist named Garinei retrieved his body for the large funeral that was held in his home town of Lugo.[13]
The monument at Nervesa della battaglia.

His body, when found, reportedly bore the marks of a bullet to the head. In his hand, he held a pistol, leading to suspicions that he elected to take his own life rather than die in a crash or be taken prisoner.[14] An Austrian pilot reportedly claimed to have shot him down in combat. Both these theories are unsupported by firm evidence and the most accepted version is that Baracca was hit by ground-fire.[11] It should, however, be noted that research in Austro-Hungarian records indicates that he was killed by the gunner of an Austrian two-seater while attacking from above and behind.[15] Ltn Arnold Barwig in Phönix C.I 121.17, piloted by Zgsf Max Kauer, claimed to have shot down the Italian ace.[12]
Legacy

Baracca's total of 34 victory claims can largely be verified from known Austro-Hungarian losses and surviving military records, establishing the Italian as one of the highest scoring Allied pilots during the conflict.

Many roads in Italy are named after Baracca. The airport of Bolzano, a city in the province of South Tyrol, the Roma-Centocelle Italian Air Force base, and the Lugo di Romagna air field are all named after Baracca.[citation needed]

In later years, Baracca's mother presented his prancing stallion emblem, the Cavallino Rampante, to Enzo Ferrari. The prancing horse has been the official symbol of the Scuderia Ferrari racing team since 1929, and of Ferrari automobiles since they began manufacture.[11]





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Great War Pilot Profiles 6 years 2 months ago #145436

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I'd like to chime in about rickenbacker with some trivia real.quick. Without googling who knows a) what he did before being allowed to fly, b) what he did to be allowed to fly in combat, and c) the one time he he was nearly killed in action where was he hit. I know the answers, do you? :whistle:

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Great War Pilot Profiles 6 years 2 months ago #145488

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Cavalry?

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Great War Pilot Profiles 6 years 2 months ago #145495

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General lee CSA wrote: Cavalry?


Yes, Cavalry. Cavalry Units were still active in WW1 even in WW2. There are still Cavalry units today (Air Cavalry) they just don't ride horses any more. Traded the horse for the chopper or something mechanized. Most all the early pilots in WW1 came from Infantry, Artillery, or Cavalry units before they got to fly. No air forces before WW1.






Paste the info below in google search. It is way to long to post here.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1st_Cavalry_Division_(United_States)‎
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Great War Pilot Profiles 6 years 2 months ago #145498

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Not quite the answer i was looking for. The answers are a) he drained the radiator on the general's car and stranded him in the boonies until the general agreed to let him fly, then he performed a low altitude spin over a baseball game that a bunch of allied generals were attending, sending the players diving for cover, that got him permission to enter combat, and finally he was grazed in the head and knocked unconscious by a german bullet while flying in combat. He came to at low altitude and flew home, and was grounded for a week with the injury. :)
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Great War Pilot Profiles 6 years 2 months ago #145503

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He served as a mechanic once for Billy Mitchell and begged to enter the air service. Given his background in racing and auto performance, he was a driver for the General Staff, including Gen. Pershing, in the First Expeditionary Force, which we now know as the 1st Infantry Division, No Mission Too Difficult, No Sacrifice Too Great. He deployed to France as a Sergeant First Class.

Among other close brushes with death, as a pilot in WWII he was forced down and spend weeks adrift in the Pacific, rescued after the search was to be called off only after his wife begged and used his name to continue the search.
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Great War Pilot Profiles 6 years 2 months ago #145505

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I was reading a book this morning called gunning for the Red Baron and it was saying that the raf and the Luftwaffe in WWI used cavalrymen as pilots because they figured if they could react to an animal they could react to a machine while the us just looked for prime physical specimens
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Great War Pilot Profiles 6 years 2 months ago #146052

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Here's another one in the "almost too strange to be true" category. The pilot in the photo below is a real groundbreaker, marking achievements of the day in swimming, cycling, mountain climbing, winter sports, ballooning, flying, riding, gymnastics, athletics, rifle shooting and fencing, to name a few. While fairly famous in France, our subject is mostly unknown in English speaking countries.



The strange part? This pilot was a she, born Marie Félicie Elisabeth Marvingt. So in a salute to Dogfight's female scout pilots, here is a profile of Marie Marvingt, nicknamed "Danger's Fiancée".

Source: Wikipedia

Marie Marvingt was born at six-thirty in the evening of 20 February 1875 in Aurillac, France. Her father was "Receveur principal des Postes" - roughly equivalent to Chief Postmaster. Later, her family moved to Metz, at that time part of Germany, where they lived from 1880-1889. When Marie Marvingt's mother died in 1889, the girl found herself, at 14, in charge of a household of four brothers and sisters whom she cared for while devouring books by explorers and scientists. After her mother's death, she moved with her father and siblings to Nancy in the Meurthe-et-Moselle département, where she remained for the rest of her life.

She was encouraged to participate in sports by her father. It is said that at the age of 5 she had already swum 4000m in a single day. She enjoyed many other sports including water polo, horse riding, athletics, boxing, martial arts, fencing, shooting, tennis, golf, hockey, football, winter sports, and mountaineering, and also practiced circus skills. In 1890, at the age of 15, she canoed over 400 kilometers from Nancy to Koblenz, Germany. In 1899 she earned her driving licence.

Marvingt became a world-class athlete who won numerous prizes in swimming, fencing, shooting, ski jumping, speed skating, luge and bobsledding. She was also a skilled mountaineer and between 1903 and 1910 she became the first woman to climb most of the peaks in the French and Swiss Alps – including traversing the Aiguille des Grands Charmoz and the Grépon Pass from Chamonix in a single day, with the guides of the Payot family of Chamonix. In 1905 during a race [2] she became the first Frenchwoman to swim the length of the Seine through Paris. The newspapers nicknamed her "l'amphibie rouge" ("the red amphibian") from the colour of her swimming costume.

In 1907 she won an international military shooting competition using a French army carbine and became the only woman ever awarded the palms du Premier Tireur (First Gunner palms) by a French Minister of War. She dominated the 1908 to 1910 winter sports seasons at Chamonix, Gérardmer, and Ballon d'Alsace, where she achieved first place on more than 20 occasions. On 26 January 1910 she won the Coupe Leon Auscher (Leon Auscher Cup) in the women's bobsledding world championship.

She enjoyed cycling and rode from Nancy, France, to Naples, Italy, to see a volcanic eruption. In 1908 she was refused permission to participate in the Tour de France because the race was only open to men. Marvingt refused to relinquish her ambition and cycled the course after the race. She successfully completed the gruelling ride, a feat which only 36 of 114 male riders had managed that year. On 15 March 1910 the Académie des Sports (French Academy of Sports) awarded her a Médaille d'Or (Gold Medal) "for all sports", the only multi-sport medal they have ever awarded.

Marie Marvingt ascended as a passenger in a free-flight balloon for the first time in 1901. Then, on 19 July 1907, she piloted one. In September 1909, she made her first solo flight as a balloon pilot. On 26 October 1909 Marvingt became the first woman to pilot a balloon across the North Sea and English Channel from Europe to England. For this flight, her balloon was called L'Étoile Filante (The Shooting Star/The Comet). She won prizes for ballooning in 1909 and 1910. She earned her balloon pilot's certificate (#145) from the Aero-Club Stella in 1910.

In September 1909, Marie Marvingt experienced her first flight as a passenger in an aeroplane piloted by Roger Sommer. During 1910, she studied fixed-wing aviation with Hubert Latham, the Anglo-French rival of Louis Blériot, in an Antoinette aeroplane. She piloted and flew solo in this monoplane, one of the first women to do so - she was the second to be licensed in a monoplane, the first being Marthe Niel.
Marie Marvingt received a pilot's licence from the Aéro-Club de France (Aero Club of France) on 8 November 1910, Licence No. 281; she was the third Frenchwoman to be registered after Raymonde de Laroche (No. 36) and Marthe Niel (No. 226). Around that time, she was the only woman licenced in the difficult-to-fly Antoinette monoplane. In her first 900 flights she never "broke wood" in a crash, a record unequaled at that time.

Once licenced, Marie Marvingt competed on a number of occasions for the Coupe Femina (Femina Cup). On the 3 December 1910, the Illustrated London News featured Marie Marvingt on its “Portraits and World’s News” page. A head and shoulders portrait is carried in a circular frame at the top of the page. She wears her leather flying helmet, with goggles pushed up. A fulsome report below states that she has beaten the long distance flight record for airwomen. “The flight was made for a cup offered by the Paris newspaper Femina.” She had beaten “Madame Laroche’s record”, with a flight of 27 miles in 53 minutes, piloting an Antoinette. This took place at Mourmelon-le-grand, where she was a pupil of Latham.

Marie Marvingt proposed the development of fixed-wing aircraft as air ambulances to the French government as early as 1910. With the help of Deperdussin company engineer Becherau (who also designed the SPAD fighter), she designed the first practical air ambulance. She carried out a campaign to raise money to purchase one for the French Government and the Red Cross, and in 1912 she ordered an air ambulance from Deperdussin, but it was never delivered because the business failed after the owner, Armand Deperdussin, embezzled company money.

In 1914 Marvingt was drawn by Émile Friant with her proposed air ambulance. During World War I she disguised herself as a man and, with the connivance of a French infantry lieutenant, served on the front lines as a Chasseur 2ième Classe (Soldier, 2nd Class) in the 42ième Bataillon de Chasseurs à Pied (42nd Battalion of Foot Soldiers). She was discovered and sent home but later participated in military operations with the Italian 3ème Régiment de Chasseurs Alpins (3rd Regiment of Alpine Soldiers) in the Italian Dolomites at the direct request of Marshal Foch. She also served as a Red Cross nurse.

In 1915 Marvingt became the first woman in the world to fly combat missions when she became a volunteer pilot flying bombing missions over German-held territory, and she received the Croix de Guerre (Military Cross) for her aerial bombing of a German military base in Metz.

Between the two World Wars she worked as a journalist, war correspondent, and medical officer with French Forces in North Africa. While in Morocco she invented metal skis and suggested their use on aeroplanes landing on sand. Marvingt devoted the remainder of her long life to the concept of aeromedical evacuation, giving more than 3000 conferences and seminars on the subject on at least four continents. She was co-founder of the French organisation Les Amies De L'Aviation Sanitaire (Friends of Aviation Medicine) and was also one of the organizers behind the success of the First International Congress on Medical Aviation in 1929.

In 1931 she created the Challenge Capitaine-Écheman (Captain Écheman Challenge) which gave a prize for the best air ambulance design. In 1934 she established a civil air ambulance service in Morocco and was subsequently awarded the Medaille de la Paix du Maroc (Medal of Peace of Morocco). In the same year she developed training courses for the Infirmières de l'Air (Nurses of the Air) and in 1935 became the first person certified as a Flight Nurse. In 1934 and 1935 she wrote, directed and appeared in two documentary films about the history, development and use of air ambulances: Les Ailes qui Sauvent (Wings which Save) and Sauvés par la Colombe (Saved by the Dove). On January 24, 1935 Marvingt was made a Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur (Chevalier of the Legion of Honour).

The Flying Ambulance Corps operated by women pilots and staffed by doctors and trained nurses, was intended to rescue the wounded on the battlefield using aircraft, landing at designated ground stations with crews of nurses, stretcher-bearers, and effective medical aid. By 1939, it appeared vital again and Marie Marvingt had been working on this and similar schemes for nearly thirty years. Whilst organising "L'Aviation Sanitaire," recruiting women pilots and nurses, she made several visits to America to confer with Government officials in that country. In France itself, she had been supported by authorities including Marshals Foch and Joffre. Her schemes caught the imagination of the young women of her country and at the start of WW II, this escalated. More than five hundred nurses with at least ten hours' flying experience joined a new parachute corps, directly initiated by another famous French flier, Maryse Hilsz,. Dressed in full nursing uniform and carrying supplies, Hilz and others made parachute landings on occasions when weather or ground conditions made it impossible for flying ambulances to land. With the fall of France, Hilz joined the resistance and briefly, just after the war, was involved in setting up a women pilots’ corps in the regular French Air Force (Armée de l'air). During World War II Marie Marvingt also established a convalescent centre for wounded aviators and served as a surgical nurse, inventing a new type of surgical suture. On 30 January 1955, she received the Deutsch de la Meurthe grand prize from the Fédération Nationale d'Aéronautique (French National Federation of Aeronautics) at the Sorbonne for her work in aviation medicine.

On 20 February 1955, her eightieth birthday, Marvingt was flown over Nancy by a U.S. Air Force officer from Toul-Rosières Air Base in an American fighter jet. In the same year she also studied piloting helicopters, though she never earned her helicopter pilot's licence. In 1961, at the age of 86, she cycled from Nancy to Paris. Marie Marvingt died on 14 December 1963, aged 88, at Laxou, a small commune in the Meurthe-et-Moselle department in north-eastern France. Her funeral was on 17 December in Saint-Epvre and she is buried in the Cimetière de Préville, Nancy, department, Lorraine, France.
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Great War Pilot Profiles 6 years 2 months ago #148088

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There are a few more I'd like to profile before letting this thread go; below is a biography of Albert Ball. Like Werner Voss, it is easy to imagine that if he survived the war he would not have only achieved a greater tally of opponents, but gone on to do great things in life. The tragedy of the loss of life in the Great War is astounding, and echoes in the art and literature of the 20's, in a great outpouring of both grief and the recognition of the consequences of losing so many of the best of a generation. It can also be heard in the progressively melancholy letter Ball frequently wrote to his parents.



Source: Wikipedia, edited for length

Albert Ball was born on 14 August 1896 in Lenton, Nottingham. After a series of moves throughout the area, his family settled at Sedgley. His parents were Albert Ball, a successful businessman who rose from employment as a plumber to become Lord Mayor of Nottingham, and who was later knighted, and Harriett Mary Page. Young Albert had two siblings, a brother and a sister. In his youth, Ball had a small hut behind the family house where he tinkered with engines and electrical equipment. He was raised with a knowledge of firearms, and conducted target practice in Sedgley's gardens. Possessed of keen vision, he soon became a crack shot. He was also deeply religious.

Ball studied at the Lenton Church School, Grantham Grammar School and Nottingham High School before transferring to Trent College in January 1911, at the age of 14. As a student he displayed only average ability, but was able to develop his curiosity for things mechanical. His best subjects were carpentry, modelling, violin and photography. He also served in the Officers Training Corps. When Albert left school in December 1913, aged 17, his father helped him gain employment at Universal Engineering Works near the family home.

Following the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914, Ball enlisted in the British Army, joining the 2/7th (Robin Hood) Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters (Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment). Soon promoted to sergeant, he gained his commission as a second lieutenant on 29 October. He was assigned to training recruits, but this rear-echelon role irked him. In an attempt to see action, he transferred early the following year to the North Midlands Cyclist Company, Divisional Mounted Troops, but remained confined to a posting in England. On 24 February 1915, he wrote to his parents, "I have just sent five boys to France, and I hear that they will be in the firing line on Monday. It is just my luck to be unable to go."

In June, he decided to take private flying lessons at Hendon Aerodrome, which would give him an outlet for his interest in engineering and possibly help him to see action in France sooner. He paid to undertake pilot training in his own time at the Ruffy-Baumann School, waking at 3:00 am to ride his motorcycle to Ruffy-Baumann for flying practice at dawn, before beginning his daily military duty at 6:45 am. In letters home Ball recorded that he found flying "great sport", and displayed what Peter de la Billière described as "almost brutal" detachment regarding accidents suffered by his fellow trainees: "Yesterday a ripping boy had a smash, and when we got up to him he was nearly dead, he had a two-inch piece of wood right through his head and died this morning. If you would like a flight I should be pleased to take you any time you wish."

Although considered an average pilot at best by his instructors, Ball qualified for his Royal Aero Club certificate (no. 1898) on 15 October 1915, and promptly requested transfer to the Royal Flying Corps (RFC). He was seconded to No. 9 (Reserve) Squadron RFC on 23 October, and trained at Mousehold Heath aerodrome near Norwich. In the first week of December, he soloed in a Maurice Farman Longhorn after standing duty all night, and his touchdown was rough. When his instructor commented sarcastically on the landing, Ball angrily exclaimed that he had only 15 minutes experience in the plane, and that if this was the best instruction he was going to get, he would rather return to his old unit. The instructor relented, and Ball then soloed again and landed successfully in five consecutive flights. His rough landing was not the last Ball was involved in, however; he survived two others. He completed his training at Central Flying School, Upavon, and was awarded his wings on 22 January 1916. A week later, he was officially transferred from the North Midlands Cyclist Company to the RFC as a pilot.

On 18 February 1916, Ball joined No. 13 Squadron RFC at Marieux in France, flying a two-seat Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2c on reconnaissance missions. He survived being shot down by anti-aircraft fire on 27 March. Three days later, he fought the first of several combats in the B.E.2; he and his observer, Lieutenant S. A. Villiers, fired a drum and a half of Lewis Gun ammunition at an enemy two-seater, but were driven off by a second one. After this inconclusive skirmish, Ball wrote home in one of his many letters, "I like this job, but nerves do not last long, and you soon want a rest". In letters home to his father, he discouraged the idea of his younger brother following him into the RFC. Ball and Villiers tried to shoot down an enemy observation balloon in their two-seater on 10 April. Ball's burgeoning skills and aggressiveness gained him access to the squadron's single-seat Bristol Scout fighter later that month.

On 7 May 1916, Ball was posted to No. 11 Squadron, which operated a mix of fighters including Bristol Scouts, Nieuport 11s, and Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.2b "pushers". After his first day of flying with his new unit, he wrote a letter home complaining about fatigue. He was unhappy with the hygiene of his assigned billet in the nearest village, and elected to live in a tent on the flight line. Ball built a hut for himself to replace the tent and cultivated a garden. Throughout his flying service Ball was primarily a "lone-wolf" pilot, stalking his prey from below until he drew close enough to use his top-wing Lewis gun on its Foster mounting, angled to fire upwards into the enemy's fuselage. According to fellow ace and Victoria Cross recipient James McCudden, "it was quite a work of art to pull this gun down and shoot upwards, and at the same time manage one's machine accurately". Ball was as much a loner on the ground as in the air, preferring to stay in his hut on the flight line away from other squadron members. His off-duty hours were spent tending his small garden and practising the violin. While not unsociable per se, he was extremely sensitive and shy. Ball acted as his own mechanic on his aircraft and, as a consequence, was often untidy and dishevelled. His singularity in dress extended to his habit of flying without a helmet and goggles, and he wore his thick black hair longer than regulations generally permitted.

While flying a Bristol Scout on 16 May 1916, Ball scored his first aerial victory, driving down a German reconnaissance plane. He then switched to Nieuports, bringing down two LVGs on 29 May and a Fokker Eindecker on 1 June. On 25 June he became a balloon buster and an ace by destroying an observation balloon with phosphor bombs. During the month he had written to his parents admonishing them to try and "take it well" if he was killed, "for men tons better than I go in hundreds every day". He again achieved two victories in one sortie on 2 July, shooting down a Roland C.II and an Aviatik to bring his score to seven.
Ball then requested a few days off but, to his dismay, was temporarily reassigned to aerial reconnaissance duty with No. 8 Squadron, where he flew B.E.2s from 18 July until 14 August. During this posting, Ball undertook an unusual mission. On the evening of 28 July, he flew a French espionage agent across enemy lines. Dodging an attack by three German fighters, as well as anti-aircraft fire, he landed in a deserted field, only to find that the agent refused to get out of the aircraft. While he was on reconnaissance duties with No. 8 Squadron, the London Gazette announced that he had been awarded the Military Cross "for conspicuous skill and gallantry on many occasions," particularly for "one occasion [when] he attacked six in one flight". This was not unusual; Ball generally attacked on sight and heedless of the odds throughout his career. However, he professed no hatred for his opponents, writing to his parents "I only scrap because it is my duty ... Nothing makes me feel more rotten than to see them go down, but you see it is either them or me, so I must do my duty best to make it a case of them".

Ball's 20th birthday was marked by his promotion to temporary captain and his return to No. 11 Squadron. He destroyed three Roland C.IIs in one sortie on 22 August 1916, the first RFC pilot to do so. He ended the day by fighting 14 Germans some 15 miles (24 km) behind their lines. With his plane badly damaged and out of fuel, he struggled back to Allied lines to land.[40] He transferred with part of No. 11 Squadron to No. 60 Squadron RFC on 23 August. His new commanding officer gave Ball a free rein to fly solo missions, and assigned him his own personal aircraft and maintenance crew.[41] One of the squadron mechanics painted up a non-standard red propeller boss; A201 became the first of a series of Ball's aeroplanes to have such a colour scheme. He found that it helped his fellow squadron members identify his plane and confirm his combat claims. By end of the month, he had increased his tally to 17 enemy aircraft, including three on 28 August.

Ball then took leave in England. While he had been in France, his feats had received considerable publicity. He was the first British ace to become a household name, and found that his celebrity was such that he could not walk down the streets of Nottingham without being stopped and congratulated. Prior to this the British government had suppressed the names of its aces—in contrast to the policy of the French and Germans—but the losses of the Battle of the Somme, which had commenced in July, made politic the publicising of its successes in the air. Upon return to No. 60 Squadron in France, Ball scored morning and evening victories on 15 September, flying two different Nieuports. On the evening mission, he armed his plane with eight Le Prieur rockets on the outer struts, set to fire electrically. He intended to use them on an observation balloon. However, when he spotted three German Roland C.IIs, he broke their formation by salvoing his rockets at them, then picked off one of the confused pilots with machine-gun fire. After this he settled into an improved aeroplane, Nieuport 17 no. A213. He had it rigged to fly tail-heavy to facilitate his changing of ammunition drums in the machine-gun, and had a holster built into the cockpit for the Colt automatic that he habitually carried. Three times during September he scored triple victories in a day, ending the month with his total score standing at 31, making him Britain's top-scoring ace. By this time he had told his commanding officer that he had to have a rest and that he was taking unnecessary risks because of his nerves. On 3 October, he was sent on leave, en route to a posting at the Home Establishment in England.

Ball had been awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) and bar simultaneously on 26 September 1916. The first award was "for conspicuous gallantry and skill" when he took on two enemy formations. The bar was also "for conspicuous skill and gallantry" when he attacked four enemy aircraft in formation and then, on another occasion, 12 enemy machines. He was awarded the Russian Order of St. George the same month. Now that Ball had been posted back to England, he was lionised as a national hero with a reputation as a fearless pilot and expert marksman. A crowd of journalists awaited him on his family's doorstep. In an interview, he mentioned being downed six times in combat. On 18 November, he was invested with his Military Cross and both DSOs by King George V at Buckingham Palace. A second bar to the DSO, for taking on three enemy aircraft and shooting one down, followed on 25 November, making him the first three-time recipient of the award. Ball was promoted to the substantive rank of lieutenant on 8 December 1916.

Instead of returning to combat after his leave, Ball was posted to instructional duties with No. 34 (Reserve) Squadron RFC, based at Orford Ness, Suffolk. It was while serving on the home front that he was able to lobby for the building and testing of the Austin-Ball A.F.B.1 fighter. He hoped to be able to take an example of the type to France with him. In November he was invited to test fly the prototype of the new Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5 scout (single-seat fighter), apparently the first service pilot to do so. He was unimpressed, finding the heavier, more stable fighter less responsive to the controls than the Nieuports he was used to. His negative assessment of other aspects of the S.E.'s performance, on the other hand, contrasted markedly with the reactions of fellow pilots who tested the prototype about this time. Ball was to maintain his opinion of the S.E. as a "dud", at least until he had scored several victories on the type after his return to France.

On 19 February 1917, in a tribute from his native city, Ball became an Honorary Freeman of Nottingham. Around this time he met James McCudden, also on leave, who later reported his impressions in most favourable terms. In London, Ball also encountered Canadian pilot Billy Bishop, who had not as yet seen combat. He immediately liked Bishop, and may have helped the latter secure a posting to No. 60 Squadron. On 25 March, while off-duty, Ball met 18-year-old Flora Young. He impulsively invited her to fly with him, and she promptly accepted, wearing a leather flying coat that they had borrowed. On 5 April, they became engaged; she wore his silver identification wrist bracelet in lieu of an engagement ring.

Inaction chafed Ball, and he began agitating for a return to combat duty. He finally managed to obtain a posting as a flight commander with No. 56 Squadron RFC, considered to be as close to an elite unit as any established by the RFC. Ball was still first among Britain's aces, and some documents hint that his attachment to No. 56 was planned to be temporary. According to one account he had been slated to serve with the squadron for only a month to mentor novice pilots. The latest type from the Royal Aircraft Factory, the S.E.5, had been selected to equip the new squadron. This choice was viewed with some trepidation by the RFC high command, and Ball himself was personally far from happy with the S.E.5. After some intense lobbying he was allowed to retain his Nieuport 17 no. B1522 when the unit went to France; the Nieuport was for his solo missions, and he would fly an S.E.5 on patrols with the rest of the squadron. This arrangement had the personal approval of General Hugh Trenchard, who went on to become the first Chief of the Air Staff of the Royal Air Force. No. 56 Squadron moved to the Western Front on 7 April 1917. On arrival Ball wrote to his parents, "Cheero, am just about to start the great game again". S.E.5 no. A4850, fresh from its packing crate, was extensively modified for Ball: in particular he had the synchronised Vickers machine-gun removed, to be replaced with a second Lewis Gun fitted to fire downwards through the floor of the cockpit. He also had a slightly larger fuel tank installed. On 9 April, however, A4850 was refitted, and the downward-firing Lewis gun removed and replaced by the normal Vickers gun mounting. In a letter to Flora Young on 18 April, Ball mentioned getting his own hut on the flight line, and installing the members of his flight nearby.

On 23 April 1917, Ball was under strict orders to stay over British lines, but still engaged the Germans five times in his Nieuport. In his first combat that day, using his preferred belly shot, he sent an Albatros into a spin, following it down and continuing to fire at it until it struck the ground. It was No. 56 Squadron's first victory. Regaining an altitude of 5,000 feet (1,500 m), he tried to dive underneath an Albatros two-seater and pop up under its belly as usual, but he overshot, and the German rear gunner put a burst of 15 bullets through the Nieuport's wings and spars. Ball coaxed the Nieuport home for repairs, returning to battle in an S.E.5. In his third combat of the day, he fired five rounds before his machine gun jammed. After landing to clear the gun, he took off once more, surprising five Albatros fighters and sending one down in flames. His fifth battle, shortly thereafter, appeared inconclusive, as the enemy plane managed to land safely. However, its observer had been mortally wounded.

Three days later, on 26 April, Ball scored another double victory, flying S.E.5 no. A4850, and one more on 28 April. This last day's fighting left the S.E.5 so battered by enemy action that it was dismantled and sent away for repair. The following month, despite continual problems with jamming guns in the S.E.5s, Ball shot down seven Albatroses in five days, including two reconnaissance models on 1 May, a reconnaissance plane and an Albatros D.III fighter on 2 May; a D.III on 4 May, and two D.IIIs the following day, 5 May. The second of these victims nearly rammed Ball as they shot it out in a head-on firing pass. As they sped past one another, Ball was left temporarily blinded by oil spraying from the holed oil tank of his craft. Clearing the oil from his eyes, he flew his S.E.5 home with zero oil pressure in an engine on the brink of seizure. He was so overwrought that it was some time after landing before he could finish thanking God, then dictating his combat report.

While squadron armourers and mechanics repaired the faulty machine-gun synchroniser on his most recent S.E.5 mount, A8898, Ball had been sporadically flying the Nieuport again, and was successful with it on 6 May, destroying one more Albatros D.III in an evening flight to raise his tally to 44. He had continued to undertake his habitual lone patrols, but had of late been fortunate to survive. The heavier battle damage that Ball's aircraft were now suffering bore witness to the improved team tactics being developed by his German opponents. Some time on 6 May, Ball had visited his friend Billy Bishop at the latter's aerodrome. He proposed that the pair attack the Red Baron's squadron at its airfield at dawn, catching the German pilots off guard. Bishop agreed to take part in the daring scheme at the end of the month, after he returned from his forthcoming leave. That night, in his last letter to his father, Ball wrote "I do get tired of always living to kill, and am really beginning to feel like a murderer. Shall be so pleased when I have finished".

On the evening of 7 May 1917, near Douai, 11 British aircraft from No. 56 Squadron led by Ball in an S.E.5 encountered German fighters from Jasta 11. A running dogfight in deteriorating visibility resulted, and the aircraft became scattered. Cecil Arthur Lewis, a participant in this fight, described it in his memoir Sagittarius Rising. Ball was last seen by fellow pilots pursuing the red Albatros D.III of the Red Baron's younger brother, Lothar von Richthofen, who eventually landed near Annoeullin with a punctured fuel tank. Cyril Crowe observed Ball flying into a dark thundercloud. A German pilot officer on the ground, Lieutenant Hailer, then saw Ball's plane falling upside-down from the bottom of the cloud, at an altitude of 200 feet (61 m), with a dead prop. Brothers Franz and Carl Hailer and the other two men in their party were from a German reconnaissance unit, Flieger-Abteilung A292. Franz Hailer noted, "It was leaving a cloud of black smoke ... caused by oil leaking into the cylinders." The engine had to be inverted for this to happen. The Hispano engine was known to flood its inlet manifold with fuel when upside down and then quit running. Franz Hailer and his three companions hurried to the crash site. Ball was already dead when they arrived. The four German airmen agreed that the crashed craft had suffered no battle damage. No bullet wounds were found on Ball's body, even though Hailer went through Ball's clothing to find identification. Hailer also took Ball to a field hospital. A German doctor subsequently described a broken back and a crushed chest, along with fractured limbs, as the cause of death.

The Germans credited Richthofen with shooting down Ball; however, there is some doubt as to what happened, especially as Richthofen's claim was for a Sopwith Triplane, not an S.E.5, which was a biplane. Given the amount of propaganda the German high command generated touting the younger Richthofen, a high-level decision may have been taken to attribute Ball's death to him. It is probable that Ball was not shot down at all, but had become disoriented and lost control during his final combat, the victim of a form of temporary vertigo that has claimed other pilots. Ball's squadron harboured hopes that he was a prisoner of war, and the British government officially listed him as "missing" on 18 May. There was much speculation in the press; in France, the Havas news agency reported: "Albert Ball, the star of aviators ... has been missing since the 7th May. Is he a prisoner or has he been killed? If he is dead, he died fighting for his forty-fifth victory." It was only at the end of the month that the Germans dropped messages behind Allied lines announcing that Ball was dead, and had been buried in Annoeullin with full military honours two days after he crashed. Over the grave of the man they dubbed "the English Richthofen", the Germans erected a cross bearing the inscription In Luftkampf gefallen für sein Vaterland Engl. Flieger Hauptmann Albert Ball, Royal Flying Corps ("Fallen in air combat for his fatherland English pilot Captain Albert Ball").

Ball's death was reported world-wide in the press. He was lauded as the "wonder boy of the Flying Corps" in Britain's Weekly Dispatch. On 7 June 1917, the London Gazette announced that he had received the Croix de Chevalier, Legion d'Honneur from the French government. The following day, he was awarded the Victoria Cross for his "most conspicuous and consistent bravery" in action from 25 April to 6 May 1917. On 10 June 1917, a memorial service was held for Ball in the centre of Nottingham at St Mary's Church, with large crowds paying tribute as the procession of mourners passed by. Among those attending were Ball's father Albert, Sr. and brother Cyril, now also a pilot in the RFC; his mother Harriett, overwhelmed with grief, was not present. Ball was posthumously promoted to captain on 15 June. His Victoria Cross was presented to his parents by King George V on 22 July 1917.

In 1918, Walter A. Briscoe and H. Russell Stannard released a seminal biography, Captain Ball VC, reprinting many of Ball's letters and prefaced with encomiums by Prime Minister David Lloyd George, Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig, and Major General Sir Hugh Trenchard. Lloyd George wrote that "What he says in one of his letters, 'I hate this game, but it is the only thing one must do just now', represents, I believe, the conviction of those vast armies who, realising what is at stake, have risked all and endured all that liberty may be saved". Haig spoke of Ball's "unrivalled courage" and his "example and incentive to those who have taken up his work". In Trenchard's opinion, Ball had "a wonderfully well-balanced brain, and his loss to the Flying Corps was the greatest loss it could sustain at that time".

In the book proper, Briscoe and Stannard quote Ball's most notable opponent, Manfred von Richthofen. The Red Baron, who believed in his younger brother's victory award, considered Ball "by far the best English flying man". Elsewhere in the book, an unidentified Royal Flying Corps pilot who flew with Ball in his last engagement was quoted as saying, "I see they have given him the V.C. Of course he won it a dozen times over—the whole squadron knows that." The authors themselves described the story of Ball's life as that of "a young knight of gentle manner who learnt to fly and to kill at a time when all the world was killing ... saddened by the great tragedy that had come into the world and made him a terrible instrument of Death".
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Great War Pilot Profiles 6 years 1 month ago #153599

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This topic/thread is filled with awesomeness! Thanks Longrifle!
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Great War Pilot Profiles 6 years 1 month ago #153616

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Thanks, it was interesting to put these together, and I hadn't realized the significance of several of the DF planes before this thread. I enjoyed reading the submissions from others, and thanks to those that contributed. Some of those pilots were new to me, other had new details or connectivity to the game, and I found a few more nonfiction works to read through the winter.

I would vote to move this to the Cool Threads as has been suggested, but I'm not sure who to petition to do that.
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Great War Pilot Profiles 5 years 11 months ago #168084

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Lieutenant Comander John Babington

Although not necessarily the most recognised pilot of the 1st world war, I feel he needs some publicity.For he was the first pilot to take to the sky and test the Handley Page Bomber. I try to imagine what it must have felt like to fly that enormous great lump of wood and wire for the first time!!! And then have to control it. A very brave man in my opinion .

www.google.co.uk/imgres?imgurl=http://ww...=0CCAQ9QEwBA&start=5


Handley Page Bomber
The Handley Page O/100 and O/400 bombers were Britain’s only heavy bombers used during World War One. At the time, the Handley Page was the largest aircraft in the UK. By the end of World War One the Handley Page O/100 and O/400 had nearly proved themselves to be the “bloody paralysers” their original Admiralty remit had demanded of them.

The idea for a long-range bomber had been mooted in December 1914. The head of the Air Department at the Admiralty, Captain Murray Sueter, wanted a bomber that would be able to paralyse the Germans. Aircraft designer Frederick Handley Page took up the challenge, even if he did not have a pedigree for such work.

The Royal Navy’s brief was somewhat stretching. What was wanted was an aircraft that could provide a defence of the coast and naval ports but which was also capable of bombing Kiel, the heart of the German Navy, which housed the German High Seas Fleet.

Parts of the new aircraft were made at Crickelwood and then transported to Kingsbury where it was fully assembled. The completed aircraft was given the serial number 1455 and towed to Hendon for final checks.

The first prototype designed by Handley Page flew on December 17th 1915 piloted by Lieutenant Commander John Babington. The cockpit and the area surrounding the crew were given added protection when compared to other aircraft. Unfortunately this made the aircraft too heavy for the power generated by the engines. There was not enough time to develop a more powerful engine so the only way to solve this was to ditch the extra plating even if it made the crew more vulnerable to gunfire. This became the basis for the first version of the Handley Page bomber – the O/100.

The Royal Navy was the first to procure the O/100 when it established a training school to fly the O/100 at Manston in Kent. It ordered 28 O/100’s for the Royal Naval Air Service. The Royal Flying Corps, realising the value that such an aircraft might have, ordered 12. This was a major success for the Handley Page Company as it had built a few aircraft before 1914 but these had been described as “unconventional”. In the space of 12 months, the idea had gone from thought to paper to actual flight.

The first Handley Page O/100 bombers came into service in late 1916. The Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) was the first to use them at their base at Dunkirk, France. They were used for night-time raids as it soon became obvious that during the day, they were very vulnerable to German fighter aircraft. As the largest Allied aircraft, they would have appeared to be lumbering giants to much faster German Albatros and Fokker fighters. To start with, the tactic when using Handley-Page bombers was to send them off on a mission individually – to bomb a rail line, a German coastal position or to patrol the sea looking for U-boats. As aircrews became more experienced, this tactic was broadened so that a bombing raid on a German target might include up to 40 bombers.

In something that could have come out of a West End farce, the Germans were effectively given an O/100 by the British. An O/100 was flown to France to start its operational use against the Germans on January 1st 1917 but was mistakenly landed twelve miles behind German lines – the crew had landed in the first field they could see after coming through the clouds. One of the German pilots who thoroughly examined the prize was Manfred von Richthofen. O/100 No 1463 was swiftly painted in the colours of the Imperial German Army Air Service

The O/100 was first used in the anger by the British on the night of March 16th-17th 1917 when a rail yard at Metz was attacked.

The second version, O/400, had more powerful engines and first flew in September 1917. The O/400 was fitted with more powerful engines, a larger fuel tank and was capable of carrying more bombs. By the time war ended in November 1918, over 400 O/400’s had been built and supplied to the War Office.

The O/400 had a top speed of 97 mph and a range of 700 miles. Two Rolls-Royce Eagle engines provided the power and if the weather conditions were favourable, the O/400 could spend eight hours in the air. The O/400 could carry 2000 lbs of bombs. These were either 112 lb or 250 lb bombs carried within the fuselage with two other bombs carried on external bomb racks. However, the O/400 could also carry a single 1,650 lb bomb – the largest in the military’s armoury during World War One.

To ensure that these were delivered as accurately as was possible, the O/400 was fitted with an early bomb aimer – the Drift Sight Mark 1A. For defence, the O/400 was fitted with five Lewis machine guns; two at the front of the aircraft, two defending the rear while one other defended the sides.

When the night-time weather was good, up to 40 O/400’s would take part in raids on German industrial or transport installations. The furthest target from their bases was Mannheim. Such a raid involving forty O/400’s took place against the Saar region of Germany on the night of September 14th – 15th.

By the time the O/400 came into service, the German Air Force was having a very difficult time. The British naval blockade of German ports had led to severe shortages in all areas in Germany – including materials for making aircraft and the fuel to keep them in the air. This made large formation flights of Handley Page bombers more logical as they could be supported by Allied fighter aircraft and a larger number could deliver a much larger payload with consequently greater damage done to the target if it was successfully hit.

The Handley-Page bomber remained in use by the newly created Royal Air Force until the Vickers Vimy bomber replaced it once the war had ended. Those Handley Page bombers that survived the war were invariably converted to civilian use carrying both passengers and airmail.

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