ACES OF THE GREAT WAR
ACES OF THE GREAT WAR
In the early stages of The Great War, different air services evolved different methods of assigning credit for aerial victories. None of these scoring systems were ironclad and they were all subject to flux. The actual number of air victories required to officially qualify as an "ace" varied.
The Germans, who did not use the term "ace" but referred to German pilots who had shot down 10 aircraft as Überkanone (big gun), gave credit to a single pilot with each downing of a particular enemy aircraft, and then only after visual verification of the wreckage of the fallen craft or its occupant(s). The French Armee de l'Air system also only counted aircraft destroyed, but granted full credit to every pilot or aerial gunner participating in a victory, which could sometimes be several individuals. Most other nations (including the United States) adopted the French system. British aircraft often fought over German territory, and could not follow the German practice of visual verification of the wreckage of the fallen craft or its occupant(s).Early fighting often only resulted in an opponent being forced to retreat or land ("driven down") within its own territory. Therefore, British practice awarded credit for combats endorsed as "decisive" by the commanding officer of his squadron; this could include German planes "driven down" or aircraft last seen "out of control" but not verified to have crashed. Russian scores sometimes reflected defeats without destruction of the foe. The term "ace" was never used officially by the British.
ACES OF THE GREAT WAR
Adolphe Célestin Pégoud
13 June 1889 - 31 Aug 1915
The term "ace” was first used by French newspapers to describe Adolphe Pegoud as l'as (the ace), after he downed five German aircraft at the beginning of The Great War. On 31 August 1915 Pégoud was shot down, ironically by one of his former German students, Unteroffizier Kandulski, while intercepting a German reconnaissance aircraft.
Manfred Albrecht Freiherr von Richthofen.
2 May 1892 – 21 April 1918
Widely known as the Red Baron, a German fighter pilot with the Imperial German Army Air Service (Luftstreitkräfte) during The Great War. He is considered the ace-of-aces being officially credited with 80 air combat victories. Originally a cavalryman he transferred to the Air Service in 1915, becoming one of the first members of Jasta 2 in 1916. He quickly distinguished himself as a fighter pilot, and during 1917 became leader of Jasta 11 and then the larger unit Jagdgeschwader 1 (better known as the "Flying Circus"). By 1918 he was regarded as a national hero in Germany.
Richthofen was shot down and killed near Amiens on 21 April 1918.
René Paul Fonck
27 Mar 1894–18 June 1953
The Allies and France top fighter ace of The Great War. He received confirmation for 75 victories (72 solo and three shared). Conscripted on 22 August 1914, he saw service in the trenches as a combat engineer He completed his pilot training in May 1915 and flew Caudron observation aircraft with Escadrille C 47. His first confirmed victory came in August 1916. Made an Officer of the Legion of Honor in 1918 and later a Commander of the Legion of Honor after the war.
Edward Corringham "Mick" Mannock
24 May1887 – 26 July 1918
He was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross and may have been the highest-scoring British Empire ace of all time and is regarded as one of the finest fighter pilots of the Great War. At the outbreak of the war he was working as a telephone engineer in Turkey. The Turks interned him and his health rapidly declined in prison. Near death, he was repatriated and, in 1915, joined the Royal Army Medical Corps. By 1916, he had become an officer in the Royal Engineers and in August 1916 transferred to the Royal Flying Corps. On 26 July, Major Mannock was shot down by a volley of ground-fire. The engine of Mannock's aircraft was hit and immediately caught fire and crashed behind German lines.
William Avery "Billy" Bishop
8 Feb 1894 – 11 Sept 1956
Canada’s top flying ace of the Great War, officially credited with 72 victories,
A commissioned cavalry officer He transferred to the Royal Flying Corps eventually joining 60 Squadron on 17 March 1917. Bishop claimed his first victory on the 25 March. He survived an encounter with Jasta 11 and Manfred von Richthofen, the Red Baron the following month. On 2 June 1917, He flew a solo mission behind enemy lines to attack a German-held aerodrome, where he claimed that he shot down three aircraft and destroyed several more on the ground. For this feat, he was awarded the VC, it remains one of two awarded in violation of the warrant requiring witnesses the other being that of the Unknown Soldier.
26 April 1896–17 Nov 1941
The second-highest and one of the youngest scoring German aces of the Great War. He joined the German Army Air Service in 1915. Won the Iron Cross in 1916 and was later court-martialed for losing his aircraft before transferring to fighter command scoring his first victory on 18 Mar 1916, adding a further nineteen, which earned him an invitation to join the Flying Circus under the command of the famed Red Baron Manfred von Richthofen. Udet was one of the early fliers to be saved by parachuting from a disabled aircraft. His parachute did not open until he was 250 feet from the ground, causing him to sprain his ankle. On 28 Sept 1918, Udet was wounded in the thigh. He was still recovering from this wound on Armistice Day when the war ended.
James Thomas Byford McCudden
28 Mar 1895–9 July 1918
He was the most highly decorated British pilot of the Great War and one of the longest serving, having joined the Royal Flying Corps in 1913, he rose though the RFC ranks (from Air Mechanic to Major) during the war he become one of the most decorated soldiers of the conflict. At his death he had amassed 57 victories, making him the seventh highest scoring ace. Despite his Victoria Cross his DSO and bar and a bar to his Military Cross and promotion to the rank of Major he was reportedly turned down for command of No. 85 Squadron RAF because of his lack of a public school education for service. He Accepted command of No. 60 Squadron RAF on his way to his new command he was killed when his plane crashed in France.
7 April 1897-10 Aug 1918
The 3rd highest German flying ace with 54 victories during the Great War, Began the war in the infantry In Oct 1914 he was commissioned and by 30 Oct had been decorated and wounded. He returned to his unit in the Carpathians. In early 1915 he received the Iron Cross 1st Class for saving five wounded men.
He volunteered for the Imperial German Army Air Service, completing pilot training in 1916. Following service in two-seaters with FAA 265 he transferred to fighters and joined Jagdstaffel 10 in March 1917. In June 1917 "Jasta" 10 became one of the four squadrons in Manfred von Richthofen's Jagdgeschwader 1 (wing), and the 20-year-old flier soon made a name for himself. By year's end he had eight victories, and upon doubling his score he became the commander of Jasta 10 on 1 April 1918.
10Aug, 1918, shooting down a British fighter, he collided with another Fokker D.VII though he jumped from his aircraft, his parachute failed to open, and plummeted to his death He was 21.
24 Dec 1894-11 Sept 1917
He quickly established himself as one of France's premier fighter pilots. He became an ace by his fifth victory in February 1916, and was promoted to lieutenant in March. At the year's end, his score had risen to 25 he was the first French ace to attain 50 victories. He failed to return from a combat mission on 11 Sept 1917 the wreckage of his airplane, his body, nor was his personal effects ever found. At the time of his death, he had tallied 53 victories. In all, he survived being shot down seven times, despite not having a parachute. Guynemer was lionized by the French press and became a national hero. His death was a profound shock to France, he remained an icon for the duration of the war. Only 22 at his death, he continued to inspire the nation with his advice, "Until one has given all, one has given nothing."
William George Barker
3 Nov 1894 – 12 Mar 1930
He is officially credited with one captured, two (and seven shared) balloons destroyed, 33 (and two shared) aircraft destroyed, and five aircraft "out of control;" the highest "destroyed" ratio for any RAF, RFC or RNAS pilot during the conflict and is recognized as "holding the record for fighting decorations" awarded in the Great War. He was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions on 27 Oct 1918.Having shot down one enemy plane he was involved in a descending battle against 15 or more enemy machines, wounded three times in the legs, and having his left elbow blown away, he shoot or drove down three more enemy aircraft. Severely wounded and bleeding profusely, Barker force landed inside Allied lines, his life being saved by the men of an RAF Kite Balloon Section, who transported him to a field dressing station.
At a hospital in Rouen, France, Barker clung to life until mid-Jan 1919, and then was transported back to England. He was not fit enough to walk the necessary few paces for the VC investiture at Buckingham Palace until 1 Mar 1919.
Josef Carl Peter Jacobs
15 May 1894-29 July 1978
Achieved his first official victory, over an enemy aircraft on 12 May when he shot down a two-seater Caudron. From early 1918 onwards, Jacobs started flying the Fokker Dr.I triplane with Jasta 7, and had his aircraft finished in a distinctive black scheme. The Dr I was his favoured mount until October 1918 and he used its manouevibility to his advantage, becoming the triplane's highest scoring ace, with over 30 confirmed victories, at 24 victories (achieved on July 19, 1918) he was awarded the coveted Pour le Mérite, his final victory tally was 48 enemy aircraft and balloons. Jacobs continued to fight against the Bolshevik forces in the Baltic in 1919, with Kommando Sachsenberg.
13 April 1897–23 Sept 1917
Described as "the bravest German airman" by James McCudden he was a friend and rival of the famous Red Baron, Manfred von Richthofen. Enlisted in 1914 at the age of 17 serving on the Eastern Front. Transferred to the German Air Service in Aug 1915 He scored his first two victories at the age of 18 on 27 November 1916 and was awarded the Pour le Merite on 8 April 1917, with his score already in the twenties. On the 23rd of Sept, he was engaged by six Aircraft of 56 Squadron – the nearest thing to a unit of aces the Royal Flying Corps was ever to field. Voss fought an epic single-handed dogfight against several aces including Capt. James T.B. McCudden Voss fought the RFC aces for 10 minutes, eluding them and putting some bullets into all six until a round pierced his right side and passed through his lungs. Nearing death stalled and crashed into the British line.
3 Mar 1891–27 Sept 1918
Originally enlisted as an infantryman he saw action against the Russians and was decorated with the Iron Cross 2nd class. In Aug 1915 he joined the German Air Service on completion of his pilot training was sent to France in early 1917. His first victim was a British observation balloon, flamed on 6 July 1917. With 29 victories to his credit, he received the coveted Pour le Mérite in July 1918. This made him one of only five pilots to have received both this award and the Golden Military Merit Cross.
Rumey was killed on the 27 Sept 1918 when jumping from his damaged plane his parachute failed to open. His tally of 45 victories was almost entirely over enemy fighter planes. He shot down more enemy scouts (35) than the more famous Red Baron, von Richthofen.
14 Aug 1896 – 7 May 1917
At the time of his death, he was the leading Allied ace with forty-four victories; he joined the Sherwood Foresters at the outbreak of the First World War and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in Oct 1914, training at Central Flying School, where he was awarded his wings on 26 Jan 1916. On 16 May 1916, Ball scored his first aerial victory, driving down an Albatros C. He was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions from 25 April to 6 May 1917 Taking part in twenty-six combats in the air destroying eleven hostile aeroplanes, driving down two out of control, and forced several others to land. On 7 May 1917, he crashed to his death in a field in France whilst pursuing the Red Baron's brother, Lothar von Richthofen. He managed to force von Richthofen to the ground, but soon after emerged from a cloud bank upside down and hit the ground before he could recover.
24 Mar 1891–15 Mar 1920
Joined the German Air Service when war broke out in August 1914, for two years flew as an Observer on Halberstadt and DFW two seaters with FFA 23, winning the Iron Cross 1st and 2nd class. Wounded on several occasions including a fractured skull broken, pelvis, and thigh. During a dogfight on 10 Oct 1917 a bullet crippled his right upper arm, this was the same day he was awarded the Pour le Merite. Berthold's stern behaviour subsequently became more erratic under the influence of morphine; Berthold had a personal insignia of a winged sword on the side of the blue fuselages and red noses sported by all aircraft of Jasta 15. His final wartime mishap came on 10 Aug 1918, when he shot down two RAF DH-4 bombers, but collided with the second of these victories and crashed into a house. He was hospitalized until after the war.
22 Jan 1891 - 23 Aug 1960
A pre-war army officer who learned to fly in 1914, Hermann Göring flew as Loerzer's observer until mid-1915. He transferred to fighters in 1916, scored his first victory on 21 Mar 1916. His tally reached 20 at the end of Oct 1917 and he received the Pour le Mérite in February 1918 that same month, he took command of the newly formed Jagdgeschwader III, the third of Germany's famed "flying circuses." He achieved his last ten victories in Sept 1918 when he reached his final score of 44, shortly before the armistice.
11 May 1896–15 July 1927
Know as “The Iron Eagle" (Der Eiserne Adler) He joined the infantry in 1914, after being wounded in the arm transferred to the German Air Service as a dental assistant before being accepted for military pilot training in 1917. He claimed his first victory on 12 July 1917 and received the Pour le Mérite shortly before the Armistice with a final credit of 43. He was one of only five recipients to be awarded both the Blue Max and the Golden Military Merit Cross. He was one of the few pilots in World War I whose lives were saved by parachute deployment, when he was shot down in flames.
Charles Eugène Jules Marie Nungesser
15 March 1892-8 May 1927
Became know as "The Knight of Death," He enlisted in the cavalry before transferring to the Service Aéronautique.Dispite being assigned non-flying duties on 31 July 1915, recorded his first victory which lead to his arrest for insubordination then decorated and then transferred to fighter training. Where the cycle of victories, arrests, decorations and crashes continued, because of his injuries which included Skull fracture, brain concussion, internal, five fractures of the upper jaw, two fractures of lower jaw, dislocation of knees (left and right), bullet wound in mouth, bullet wound in ear, atrophy of tendons in left leg, atrophy of muscles in calf, dislocated clavicle, he often needed to be helped into his cockpit. His flamboyant personality, and appetite for danger, beautiful women, wine and fast cars made him a cult figure with the French public.
Georges Felix Madon
28 July 1892-11 Nov 1924
A pre-war pilot in the French army, he was interned for several months In April, 1915, when thrown off course by heavy fog; he flew into Swiss air space. He escaped in Dec 1915 by chloroforming and kidnapping his guard. His reward was a court-martial and 60 days confinement. He scored his first victory on the 28 Sept 1916, by war's end, he was credited with 41 confirmed victories and 64 probables, he once nonchalantly remarked, "The Boche knows his losses." he was promoted to temporary captain on the last day of the war.
19 May 1891 – 28 Oct 1916
"The father of pursuit aviation" and the "creator of the Flying Circus. Idolized by his fellow pilots, he was the first to formalize rules of air fighting, which he presented as the Dicta Boelcke. Transferred to the Flying Corps in 1914 won his first individual aerial combat on 19 Aug 1915 was the pilot chosen to test Anthony Fokker's new machine gun. Become the first German ace. He and Max Immelmann were awarded the Orden Pour le Mérite on 12 Jan 1916. They were the first two pilots to receive Prussia's highest award for bravery. On 28 Oct 1916 during a dog-fight he struck another German machine. With his aircraft disabled Boelcke crash-landed behind German lines. He died on impact.