Author Topic: On this Day (WWI aviation news)  (Read 11493 times)

Offline PJ Fisher

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Re: On this Day (WWI aviation news)
« Reply #300 on: November 29, 2022, 11:41:30 PM »
Over the Front
This simple article from the sixteen-month-old war unwittingly touches upon all the aspects that make this microcosm of WWI aviation such an interesting history to study: the evolution of fighting tactics in a wager for month-by-month supremacy, the introduction of new technology in real time, the race for more powerful engines, ever-increasing firepower, adaptive ingenuity in the field, plus the individual struggle of man vs. man (and sometimes man vs. machine).
(from the Hickory Daily Record, 29 November 1915):


Offline KiwiZac

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Re: On this Day (WWI aviation news)
« Reply #301 on: November 30, 2022, 06:33:55 AM »
A fascinating story, but is it true? Or, rather, is the name correct as a quick Google search comes up with nothing.

Offline PJ Fisher

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Re: On this Day (WWI aviation news)
« Reply #302 on: November 30, 2022, 11:23:33 PM »
A fascinating story, but is it true? Or, rather, is the name correct as a quick Google search comes up with nothing.

Are you referring to the one-legged flyer?  Names (particularly foreign ones) were indeed commonly misspelled in these old articles. I also scanned google with no success... I don't readily have access to German newspapers so didn't investigate further.  There was a 1916 article back in May on Theodore Marburg Jr., an American aviator who lost a leg in action then became a flying instructor (though he didn't return to combat), so perhaps there's potential to this story.  For now I'm leaving it in the 'questionable' category!

Offline PJ Fisher

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Re: On this Day (WWI aviation news)
« Reply #303 on: November 30, 2022, 11:45:36 PM »
"One never knows when one goes up when or where or how one may descend"
Following yesterday's synopsis on conditions above the Western Front, here's a good read from a German perspective over the Eastern Front, namely Galicia (now largely Ukraine).  One takeaway here seems to parallel themes from future conflicts - that there never a shortage of men but rather materiel.  Though clearly a pilot is always kept busy, this observer astonishingly admits to having it so easy being unopposed in the sky he brings a novel aboard to pass the time!
(from the Daily Gate City, 30 November 1915):

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« Last Edit: November 30, 2022, 11:52:06 PM by PJ Fisher »

Offline KiwiZac

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Re: On this Day (WWI aviation news)
« Reply #304 on: December 01, 2022, 08:20:03 AM »
A fascinating story, but is it true? Or, rather, is the name correct as a quick Google search comes up with nothing.
Are you referring to the one-legged flyer? 
Sorry, yes!

Offline PJ Fisher

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Re: On this Day (WWI aviation news)
« Reply #305 on: December 01, 2022, 10:41:59 PM »
World's First Female Military Pilot Heads to the Front
And this wasn't even the first war she volunteered for.  While Eugenie Mikhailovna Countess Shakhovskaya wasn't Russia's first female 'aviatress' (that credit goes to Lydia Zvereva) she was an early bird, having first flown in 1911. Her public offer to serve as a pilot in the Italo-Turkish War of 1911-1912 (the first conflict to involve aircraft in combat) was twice denied but when the Great War erupted Shakhovskaya again appealed... which brings us to today's news.  Evidently her request was approved by Tsar Nicholas II (her cousin), who assigned her to the aviation detachment of Kovno Fortress (now Kaunas, Lithuania). 

From here Shakhovskaya's story goes sideways.  Reputedly she was shortly thereafter dismissed from active service, accused of being a spy, arrested, and sentenced to death.  Tsar Nicholas apparently intervened again and Shakhovskaya's sentence was commuted to life in prison. Freed during the revolution, she then supposedly became a member of the newly formed Soviet secret-police organization Cheka.  She is said to have become addicted to narcotics, possibly deriving from pain-killers prescribed pursuant to plane crash she survived in 1912, which killed her instructor and rumored lover Vsevolod Abramovich (pictured aside her below).  By 1920 Shakhovskaya was dead.  Some reports claim she was killed in an opium-fueled gunfight with a colleague. 
(respectively from the Evening Public Ledger and the Bridgeport Evening Farmer, 1 December 1914):

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More details about this pioneer aviator's short but dramatic life (which aided today's backstory) can be found here on Aerotime Hub: https://www.aerotime.aero/articles/27441-Princess-spy-aviatress-the-life-of-Evgeniya-Shakhovskaya

And if anyone cares to revisit, here's a link to our earlier snippet on Nedeshda Degtereva, the first female aviator to be wounded in combat: https://forum.ww1aircraftmodels.com/index.php?topic=12930.msg245511#msg245511

« Last Edit: January 07, 2023, 05:34:39 PM by PJ Fisher »

Offline PJ Fisher

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Re: On this Day (WWI aviation news)
« Reply #306 on: December 02, 2022, 03:01:16 PM »
Tom Gunn: China's Top Gun
San-Francisco-born Tan Gen (commonly called Tom Gunn), became the first Chinese-American aviator when he began flying 1911.  By the summer of 1912, Gunn was flying demonstrations for the public including military officials of the newly born Republic of China; which, in 1915, would offer him a captain's commission to head their Air Force. Interspersed with stints in Honolulu and Manila over the next two years, Gunn is said to have made more than 800 flights and carried more than 300 passengers in the Pacific region.  Today's news article, similar to yesterday's tale of Princess Shakhovskaya, echoes the shifting tides of revolutionary politics as Gunn somehow found himself out of official favor and with a bounty on his head.  Tan Gen reportedly remained a target for assassination and at one point he was doused with acid.  He was killed in a suspicious 'rickshaw accident' in 1925.
(from the New-York Tribune, 2 December 1917):


A few more details on Tom Gunn's life can be read on warbirdsnews: https://warbirdsnews.com/aviation-museum-news/tom-gunn-exhibit-pacific-aviation-museum.html
« Last Edit: December 04, 2022, 12:23:11 AM by PJ Fisher »

Offline PJ Fisher

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Re: On this Day (WWI aviation news)
« Reply #307 on: December 03, 2022, 01:36:20 PM »
"Kichthofen's Traveling Circus"
While we're on the topic of trusting old news articles and of names getting lost in translation...
(from the East Oregonian, 3 December 1917):

« Last Edit: January 07, 2023, 05:36:24 PM by PJ Fisher »

Offline PJ Fisher

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Re: On this Day (WWI aviation news)
« Reply #308 on: December 03, 2022, 11:07:03 PM »
"There was nothing for me to do but fight, and my hands were full..."
Helmet cleaved by gunfire... and he survives.  Shot through mouth; bullet lodges in throat... and he survives.  Nosedives unconscious 8,000 feet into the ground... and he survives.  Leaps from window of a speeding prisoner train... and he survives.  Scavenges behind enemy lines for 72 days... and survives.  Electrocuted by charged-wire fence... and survives.  This is just part of Lieutenant Patrick Alva O'Brien's fascinating biography.  He began flying in 1912 and was one of a handful American aviators to fight over Europe in the Royal Flying Corps (via Canada) before the U.S. joined the conflict.  He reportedly was the first American pilot to escape from a German prisoner camp (while captive he witnessed his best friend get shot down from the sky above him). This excerpt from O'Brien's memoir Outwitting the Hun paints a picture of his final night flight:

I realized that my only chance lay in making an Immermann (sic) turn. This maneuver... brought one of their machines right in front of me, and as he sailed along barely ten yards away I had "the drop" on him, and he knew it. His white face and startled eyes I can still see. He knew beyond question that his last moment had come, because his position prevented his taking aim at me, while my gun pointed straight at him. My first tracer-bullet passed within a yard of his head, the second looked as if it hit his shoulder, the third struck him in the neck, and then I let him have the whole works and he went down in a spinning nose dive.  All this time the three other Hun machines were shooting away at me. I could hear the bullets striking my machine one after another. I hadn't the slightest idea that I could ever beat off those three Huns, but there was nothing for me to do but fight, and my hands were full.  In fighting, your machine is dropping, dropping all the time. I glanced at my instruments and my altitude was between eight and nine thousand feet. While I was still looking at the instruments the whole blamed works disappeared. A burst of bullets went into the instrument board and blew it to smithereens, another bullet went through my upper lip, came out of the roof of my mouth and lodged in my throat, and the next thing I knew was when I came to in a German hospital the following morning at five o'clock, German time.  I was a prisoner of war!


Today's article shines the first light the public was to receive about his ordeal. Once free, O'Brien was celebrated.  He received an audience with the King of England. He was awarded the Military Cross 'in recognition of gallantry in escaping from captivity whilst a Prisoner of War'.  Back home a book deal, a lecture-circuit tour, and a Hollywood movie brought wealth to match his newfound fame.  Yet despite defying death so many times, just three years after O'Brien's great escape... he killed himself.  Felled by domestic strife after only a few months of marriage.  His suicide note read in part, "To the five armies I have been in... to all the world and to adventure, I say good-bye."  As the old saying goes, 'with war there are victims but with love there are only volunteers'.  Like so many of history's intriguing characters, O'Brien's has largely faded from memory; however, relatively recently (in 2007) a memorial was dedicated in his honor.
(from the Daily Missoulian, 3 December 1917):


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Make time for yourself today to read more from Pat O'Brien's well-written memoirs as shared on Humanities Texas: https://www.humanitiestexas.org/news/articles/firsthand-account-lieutenant-pat-obrien-world-war-i-pow
« Last Edit: December 07, 2022, 11:11:39 AM by PJ Fisher »

Offline PJ Fisher

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Re: On this Day (WWI aviation news)
« Reply #309 on: December 04, 2022, 11:39:35 PM »
Berlin Barely Spared from Being Baptized By Britain's Biggest Bomber
Literally "in the 11th hour"!  The first three production examples of the V/1500 'Super Handley' (first flown in May 1918), were ready to roll with 'tons of trinitrotoluol' on the very last night of the war.  Some accounts say these beasts were literally being taxied on the airfield exactly when news of the armistice reached the ground crew of 166 Squadron.  However, this article makes no reference that newsworthy detail, and it may be an exaggeration.  Below right is the ordinance slated to equip the V/1500... though that last 3300 lb 'S.N. Major Bomb' never did anoint its adversary.
(from the Topeka State Journal, 4 December 1918):

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It seems that the Handley Page V/1500 is yet another plane for which no completed build exists here, but check out forum member Rookie's in-progress account of his entirely scratch-built 1/32-scale behemoth:  https://forum.ww1aircraftmodels.com/index.php?topic=11018.0
« Last Edit: December 07, 2022, 11:18:40 AM by PJ Fisher »

Offline PJ Fisher

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Re: On this Day (WWI aviation news)
« Reply #310 on: December 05, 2022, 02:46:26 PM »
Parnall's Pudgy Pontoon Plane
Here's a grainy but great little spotlight on the Parnall Panther.  First flown for the British Admiralty in 1917, this two-seater was designed to fold in half for easy storage aboard ship.  Like the Handley Page V/1500 from yesterday's headline, the Panther missed seeing service before the armistice.  Ultimately 150 were produced and the type remained in service through 1926, with a couple being sold to Japan and the United States.  Alas, here's yet another obscure but interesting WWI-era plane that has yet to appear in model form here. 
(from the Alaska Daily Empire, 5 December 1921):


Offline PJ Fisher

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Re: On this Day (WWI aviation news)
« Reply #311 on: December 07, 2022, 11:07:02 AM »
Fighting With The Flying Circus
(from Popular Science, December 1918):



Check out forum member kkarlsen's super-cool 'Flying Circus' diorama, which I am guessing is 1/32nd scale(?): https://forum.ww1aircraftmodels.com/index.php?topic=11049.0

Offline PJ Fisher

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Re: On this Day (WWI aviation news)
« Reply #312 on: December 07, 2022, 11:30:01 PM »
Plucky Pilot Crashes Plane Then Hijacks Train!
Another fun read of a downed aviator making a run for the border... this one perhaps of questionable provenance.
(from the Devils Lake World and Inter-ocean, 7 December 1916):

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« Last Edit: December 08, 2022, 02:02:08 PM by PJ Fisher »

Offline PJ Fisher

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Re: On this Day (WWI aviation news)
« Reply #313 on: December 09, 2022, 12:02:32 AM »
Eagle of Trieste Takes on Two
This brief article records another aerieal victory by Gottfried Freiherr von Banfield, who was of the Great War's few flying-boat aces. He was the most successful Austro-Hungarian naval pilot, having been credited with nine confirmed (and eleven unconfirmed) kills. In the year this article was penned, Banfield was awarded the newly founded Large Military Merit Medal with Swords.  He was further honored in 1917 with the Military Order of Maria Theresa (he became the last person in history to wear this medal). The Eagle of Trieste lived all the way to 1986.
(from the South Bend News-Times, 8 December 1916):



Check out forum member lone modeller's scratchbuilt 1/72-scale Hansa-Brandenbuerg CC, as flown by Banfield later in the war: https://forum.ww1aircraftmodels.com/index.php?topic=7474.msg137554#msg137554

Offline PJ Fisher

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Re: On this Day (WWI aviation news)
« Reply #314 on: December 10, 2022, 02:07:55 AM »
To the Bitter End
No famous names or amazing tales of derring-do today.  Just two news articles from the same newspaper, one year apart, reminding us of the grim realities that so many unnamed men faced each time they took to the skies.
(respectively from the The Sun, 9 December 1914 and 1915):

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« Last Edit: December 10, 2022, 03:14:51 PM by PJ Fisher »