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Pre-WW2 Military and Naval Aviation Please use this forum to discuss Military and Naval Aviation before the Second World War.

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Old 14th February 2006, 01:02
Klaus Schiffler Klaus Schiffler is offline
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World War I Dogfight

On 12 Feb 2006 the History Channel presented a rerun of "Dogfight" the first part of which covered the dogfight of Eddie Rickenbacker against five Fokker D. VIIs and two Halberstadt Cs (two-seaters) on 25 Sep 1918. He claimed one of each type. The entire description of the air combat follows the description of Rickenbacker in his book, Fighting the Flying Circus.
There is no attempt to try to identify the German units or pilots involved. We are led to believe that he destroyed two German aircraft in a typical dogfight of WW I. A careful reading of Rickenbacker's book reveals much to be desired. The man was flying alone and he claims that "my bullets were already ripping through his fuselage and he must have been killed instantly. His machine fell wildly away and crashed south of Etain."
The fact is that Rickenbacker was involved with six other aircraft and it is highly doubtful that he had time to watch the Fokker fall "wildly away" and also observe the crash. To have done so would have made him very vulnerable to the other four Fokkers.
Rickenbacker also claimed a "LVG" which according to him "started a blazing path to earth just as the Fokker escort came tearing up to the rescue." Again to survive he would not have tried to observe the crashing German due to the following four Fokkers.
Rickenbacker then claims that he tried to get confirmation from French ground troops. He states that M. le Commandant gave him a signed statement regarding the fight with the two-seater and that the Frenchman shook his hand congratulating him on his victory. There is no indication that the Frenchman confirmed his "victory" over the Fokker D. VII.
The description of Rickenbacker of his fatal damage to the two German aircraft would indicate that there would be three fatalities or serious wounds regarding German airmen. The book Bloody April...Black September by Norman Franks, Russel Guest and Frank Bailey do not show any losses among German air units in the American sector of the front. One fighter pilot was killed and his name is Franz Wagner of Jasta 79 who was killed in a fight with 22 and 25 Squadrons of the RAF.
On the 25th the Allied air forces claimed to have destroyed a total of 22 German aircraft and 14 driven out of control. Total German losses amounted to four aircraft (with the possibility of two or three others). How many of these are due to air combat is not known. The Allied claims are vastly inflated. The Germans in turn claimed 22 Allied aircraft and the Allies lost 20 destroyed.
Just how much of Rickenbacker's story is true and how much is due to wishful thinking is unknown.
My question is based on the above account. Were American fighter pilots in the U.S. Air Service in WWI given credit for a kill without corroborating evidence such as another witness?
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Old 14th February 2006, 09:11
Franek Grabowski Franek Grabowski is offline
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Re: World War I Dogfight

My understanding is that the bulk of LSK documents were destroyed in the Spring of 1945 and that we have even less about them rather than about the Luftwaffe. So, how can you be so sure about the German losses?
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Old 14th February 2006, 19:09
Klaus Schiffler Klaus Schiffler is offline
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Re: World War I Dogfight

The documents were available to researchers between the wars. If you are curious regarding losses, view Casualties of the German Air Service 1914-1920 by Norman Franks, Frank Bailey and Rick Duiven. Therein it states that in 1930 Walter von Eberhardt published Unsere Luftstreit Kraft 1914-1918 of which Frank Bailey had a copy. Rick Duiven also had a copy.

My issue is why was Rickenbacker given credit for a kill without additional witnesses (beside himself).
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Old 15th February 2006, 04:22
Artist Artist is offline
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Re: World War I Dogfight

Go to the Aerodrome.com these guys realy know their stuff. Bob
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Old 14th April 2006, 11:48
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PlaneKrazy PlaneKrazy is offline
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Re: World War I Dogfight

Franek Grabowski is correct. Luftwaffe records were stored in Silesian mines until march 1945 and were then transported to Linz, Austria where they were burned in an operation lasting all of April 1945.
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Old 15th April 2006, 07:44
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Jim Oxley Jim Oxley is offline
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Re: World War I Dogfight

Quote:
Originally Posted by Klaus Schiffler
The documents were available to researchers between the wars. If you are curious regarding losses, view Casualties of the German Air Service 1914-1920 by Norman Franks, Frank Bailey and Rick Duiven. Therein it states that in 1930 Walter von Eberhardt published Unsere Luftstreit Kraft 1914-1918 of which Frank Bailey had a copy. Rick Duiven also had a copy.
PlaneKrazy it is of no import that the documents were destroyed in 1945. As stated above it had already been published in book form in 1930.

Klaus, as Artist suggested pop over to http://www.theaerodrome.com/ Those guys are the experts on WWI aviation. Many authors hang out there.
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Old 16th April 2006, 01:07
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Jim Oxley Jim Oxley is offline
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Re: World War I Dogfight

Amazingly the book UNSERE LUFTSTREIKRAFTE 1914-1918 is still available. See here
http://www.allaboutwarfare.com/forum...?showtopic=409

Mind you your bank account will take a battering.
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Old 10th February 2007, 01:45
Gunther Gunther is offline
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Re: World War I Dogfight

According to an out of print book (Above & Beyond: the Aviation Medals of Honor, Smithsonian Press) Oct. 25 was Rickenbacker's first day commanding the 94th Squadron, and he was trying to set an example of aggressiveness. After landing, he took another officer and went to the front near Verdun and obtained some sort of statement from a French soldier. However, it appears that Rickenbacker's combat occurred too far behind the lines to be seen by allied witnesses on the ground. Perhaps since he was then in command, he could confirm his own claims.
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