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Best flyers of World War One

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  • Best flyers of World War One

    Who would you consider to be the best pilot or pilots of WWI? I've narrowed my list down to several candidates: Charles Nungesser (French), Eddie Rickenbacker (USA), William Bishop (Canada), obviously Baron Von Richthofen (Germany) and not so obviously, Lothar Von Richthofen, the brother of the "Red Baron" who opted for hitting hard strategic targets rather than glorious dog fighting. What do you think?

  • #2
    Pure flying skill would make it hard to go against Voss. McCudden was probably the smartest with Richthofen second, and best shot was probably Fonck.
    Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the cheesemakers

    That's right bitches. I'm blessed!

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Rojik View Post
      Pure flying skill would make it hard to go against Voss. McCudden was probably the smartest with Richthofen second, and best shot was probably Fonck.
      Agreed, with the possible exception of Boelcke replacing Ricthofen on your list.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by llkinak View Post
        Agreed, with the possible exception of Boelcke replacing Ricthofen on your list.


        That was me banging my head against the keyboard for forgetting the Great Man.
        Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the cheesemakers

        That's right bitches. I'm blessed!

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        • #5
          How could I forget...

          German Max Immelmann just came to mind. His infamous "Immelmann turn" was revolutionary in dog fighting techniques, and it is still used today, although in a slightly different fashion.

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          • #6
            René Fonck wasn't too shabby. Charles Biddle, an ace himself, called Fonck the best pilot produced by either side during the war.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Jeff Simmons View Post
              German Max Immelmann just came to mind. His infamous "Immelmann turn" was revolutionary in dog fighting techniques, and it is still used today, although in a slightly different fashion.
              That's a sort of yes but a large no. The Immelmann turn was a very basic manoeuvre but it was a better manoeuvre than other pilots had tried with the limited aircraft they had at that time. There is also a fair bit of conjecture as to if it was the invention of the "Eagle of Lille" or another pilot who flew a Fokker.

              From all I have read Immelmann was a superb hunter-killer but not a great aerialist.

              The modern Immelmann turn is completely different from the WW1 version.
              Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the cheesemakers

              That's right bitches. I'm blessed!

              Comment


              • #8
                The Immelmann Turn

                Just out of curiosity, how is today's Immelmann Turn different than the WWI version?

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                • #9
                  Edward Mannock, special credit for the care he took of his wingmen.
                  Reaction to the 2016 Munich shootings:
                  Europe: "We are shocked and support you in these harsh times, we stand by you."
                  USA: "We will check people from Germany extra-hard and it is your own damn fault for being so stupid."

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                  • #10
                    Werner Voss was a pretty darn good flyer; IIRC, 60 & 56 Sqdn.'s had him cornered and according to one flyer "he seemed to be shooting in four directions at a time".

                    George Barker was pretty amazing, too. He took on 15 Fok. DVII's and shot down three, in full view of his fellow Canadians on the ground.

                    Raymond Collishaw was an excellent pilot; he lived next door to my mum during the 1930's - him and some other guys used to fly Curtiss Jennies out of their back yard all the time.

                    Frank Luke was a pretty good flyer, and reportedly a bit of a nutbar; reckless and seemingly without fear.

                    Many of the aces (like Bishop) were indifferent or even poor fliers, but crack shots. I suppose that there were excellent fliers on both sides that were indifferent marksman and so we don't know about them.

                    Bishop, by his own admission, was a bad pilot. He was the guest of honor at a dinner party hosted by his former foes, including one Hermann Goering. According to Bishop, he acknowledged their recognition of him as "the greatest living RFC ace". He quipped that he should be recognized as a leading German ace as well, because "I personally destroyed more British aircraft in landing accidents than many of the fliers here did in the air".

                    But I would take that as a humorous exaggeration.
                    Last edited by globetrotter; 19 Jun 10, 14:49.
                    "Take the risk of thinking for yourself, much more happiness, truth, beauty, and wisdom will come to you that way." - Christopher Hitchens

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                    • #11
                      I think Ira 'Taffy' Jones was the RFC/RAF's top Ace at crash landing his aerpolane!
                      The long toll of the brave
                      Is not lost in darkness
                      Over the fruitful earth
                      And athwart the seas
                      Hath passed the light of noble deeds
                      Unquenchable forever.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Jeff Simmons View Post
                        Just out of curiosity, how is today's Immelmann Turn different than the WWI version?
                        I've been trying to find a diagram I could post but no luck yet. The only thing I have is in books and words (or at least my words) wouldn't be good enough to describe it.
                        Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the cheesemakers

                        That's right bitches. I'm blessed!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by The Ibis View Post
                          René Fonck wasn't too shabby. Charles Biddle, an ace himself, called Fonck the best pilot produced by either side during the war.
                          An endorsement yes, but only an opinion.

                          Paul
                          ‘Tis said his form is tiny, yet
                          All human ills he can subdue,
                          Or with a bauble or medal
                          Can win mans heart for you;
                          And many a blessing know to stew
                          To make a megloamaniac bright;
                          Give honour to the dainty Corse,
                          The Pixie is a little shite.

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                          • #14
                            Characteristics of flying and leadership are hard to quantify when that leader is flying a scout, two seater or recce aircraft, or aircraft that are inferior to that of his Allie and/or his enemy.

                            Racking up big scores does not necessary mean a superior pilot; the best pilot needs leadership, competence, luck, be a good shot, have a good aeroplane, and have a fast thinking, canny psyche and eyesight, and able to read the situation that he and his squadron are in.

                            But the best IMO are those that can do all the above even though they have a physical handicap or two, which would put them at a disadvantage, i.e eyesight and/or limbs.

                            As for pilots who say such and such, was the best pilot, How would they know unless they flew with all the other great flyers of the air.

                            Paul
                            Last edited by Dibble201Bty; 19 Jun 10, 18:15.
                            ‘Tis said his form is tiny, yet
                            All human ills he can subdue,
                            Or with a bauble or medal
                            Can win mans heart for you;
                            And many a blessing know to stew
                            To make a megloamaniac bright;
                            Give honour to the dainty Corse,
                            The Pixie is a little shite.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              True enough. I would rather fly with a guy who leads successful missions and gets his people back alive, rather than a glory-seeker. Those guys can get you killed. i.e. George Peppard's character in "The Blue Max"
                              "Take the risk of thinking for yourself, much more happiness, truth, beauty, and wisdom will come to you that way." - Christopher Hitchens

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