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Friday, May 12, 2017

Dog Fight

WWI Dog Fights and Military Aviation Advice from WWI to WWIII 

"Son, your wife's legs have more time in the air than you do." 

British Handley-Page bombers on a mission, Western Front

At the start of WWI, airplanes were initially used for reconnaissance. Enemy pilots would trade insults and rude hand gestures. 

"Try to stay in the middle of the air. Do not go near the edges of it. The edges of the air can be recognized by the appearance of ground, buildings, sea, trees and interstellar space. It is much more difficult to fly there." - Basic flight rules

WWI pilots started to bring up bricks to lob at each other and pistols to take shots at anyone in range.

Priest blesses an airplane, France, 1915

"You've never been lost until you've been lost at Mach 3." - Test pilot Paul F. Crickmore

"If you can walk away from a landing, it’s a good landing. If you use the airplane the next day, it’s an outstanding landing." - Chuck Yeager, USAF

Practicing gunner positions

Eventually the planes were modified to accommodate heavier fire power. Front mounted machine guns had to fire through the propeller. A Dutch designer created a timing system to correlate propeller spin and bullets.

A crewman of an SSZ airship prepares to drop a bomb on a U-boat during a patrol of the North Sea

"We do not consider that aeroplanes will be of any possible use for war purposes." - The British Secretary of State for War, 1910.

"Their Lordships are of the opinion that they would not be of any practical use to the Naval Service." - British Admiralty, in reply to the Wright's offer of patents for their airplane, 1907.

A captured German Taube monoplane,
on display in the courtyard of Les Invalides in Paris, 1915.

The Etrich Taube was the first military aeroplane to be mass-produced in Germany. Not suitable as a warplane, it was replaced by newer and more effective designs. 

Taube monoplane as seen from below

The wings were modeled after the large winged seeds of the Javan cucumber. 

Airplane landing on a ship, January 18, 1911

"Because during World War Two I was responsible for the destruction of six aircraft, fortunately three were enemy." - Captain Ray Lancaster, USAAF, when asked why he was called 'Ace'.

"It is generally inadvisable to eject directly over the area you just bombed." - US Air Force Manual

Faked photo of a WWI dog fight. 

Death in the Air:
 The War Diary and Photographs of a Flying Corps Pilot
was published in 1933. The book combined the diary of an anonymous WWI pilot along with stunning photographs of dog fights. 

Years later, the photos and diary were determined to be fake. 

The WWI dog fight photos weren't Faked photo of a WWI dog fight. 1985

Wesley D Archer, who served in the RAF, created the scenes using models of aircrafts which he suspended in the air using 'invisible' string and wires. He had been paid $20,000 for the photos and diary. 

"The only time you have too much fuel is when you're on fire." - Ernest K. Gann’s Flying Circus

"If the wings are traveling faster than the fuselage, it's probably a helicopter -- and therefore, unsafe."

Military leadership refused to provide parachutes for the WWI pilots assuming that the pilots would unnecessarily abandon their airplanes.

“It is the opinion of the board that the presence of such an apparatus might impair the fighting spirit of pilots and cause them to abandon machines which might otherwise be capable of returning to base for repair”.

Belgian “Death’s Head”, piloted by Lt Jaumotte with observer Lt Wouters

"Even with ammunition, the USAF is just another expensive flying club."

Responding to a test pilot crash, "What happened?" "I don't know, I just got here myself!" - Attributed to Ray Crandell (Lockheed test pilot)   

Biplanes flying in formation, ca.1918

"The Piper Cub is the safest airplane in the world; it can just barely kill you." - Attributed to Max Stanley (Northrop test pilot)

"When one engine fails on a twin-engine airplane you always have enough power left to get you to the scene of the crash."

The Red Baron
2 May 1892 – 21 April 1918

Manfred Albrecht Freiherr von Richthofen, the Red Baronshot down 80 enemy aircraft in 20 months of combat, including 21 planes in the month of April, 1917,

Initially, he appeared to be a below-average pilot and he crashed during his first flight at the controls.

The Red Baron’s Albatros is second from the front, black crosses barely visible against the red overspray.

The Red Baron took the flamboyant step of having his Albatros painted red when he became a squadron commander. Other members of squadron also painted parts of their aircraft red. 

Tri-plane Fighter Brigade 

They became known as "The Flying Circus" due to the unit's brightly colored aircraft and its mobility, including the use of tents, trains, and caravans.

WWI German flying ace, ‘The Red Baron’ and his dog (1916)

In 1917, Richthofen suffered a head wound during a flight. He was temporarily paralyzed and blinded but regained the use of his limbs a few thousand feet above the ground and was able to land.

The Red Baron and his father, recovering after a head wound

An attempt was made to keep him from flying from fear that his death would seriously undermine the morale of the German people. In spite of ongoing headaches and nausea, he refused to stop flying.

"I would become miserable if now, honoured with glory and decorations, I became a pensioner of my own dignity in order to preserve my precious life ... while every poor fellow in the trenches endures his duty exactly as I did mine." - Manfred Albrecht Freiherr von Richthofen, The Red Baron

Australian airmen with Richthofen's triplane, after it was dismembered by souvenir hunters.

In 1918, a single bullet hit The Red Baron in the chest, damaging his heart and lungs. In the last seconds of his life, he managed to retain sufficient control to make a rough landing behind enemy lines. 

"If I should come out of this war alive, I will have more luck than brains. I like to fly, not to kill." - Manfred Albrecht Freiherr von Richthofen, The Red Baron, in a letter to his mother.

The funeral of Manfred von Richthofen. April 22, 1918, at Bertangles Cemetery, France

The allied soldiers held a military funeral for Richthofen and hundreds of Allied soldiers filed by to pay their respects. RAF pilots dropped canisters containing news of Richthofen’s death and pictures of his funeral over the airbase where Richthofen's squadron was stationed. 

The Red Baron was only 25 years old when he died.

Eight Fairey Albacore planes from the British Royal Navy

"Airspeed, altitude and brains. At least two are always needed to fly safely."

"Weather forecasts are horoscopes with numbers."

Military controller inquired if a pilot needed assistance as his plane skidded down the tarmac when the landing gear malfunctioned. "Dunno - we ain't done crashin' yet."

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