Sharks Among Minnows: Germany; S First Fighter Pilots and the Fokker Eindecker Period, July 1915 to September 1916
No sooner had the war in the air become more serious, more deadly, in early 1915, than both Allied and German airmen were trying to find a successful ... Show synopsis No sooner had the war in the air become more serious, more deadly, in early 1915, than both Allied and German airmen were trying to find a successful way of fighting each other in order for each side to stop the other making reconnaissance and artilery observation sorties over the opposition's side of the lines. Various ingenious schemes, which had limited success, were suddenly over-shadowed by the arrival at the front in the summer of 1915 of the Fokker Eindecker, which had a synchronised machine gun firing through the whirling blades of the propeller. Spread amongst German two-seater reconnaissance units in ones and twos, those disposed to flying these first single-seater fighting aeroplanes, if they were successful, soon became famous and the first aces of this new form of aerial warfare. Names such as Boelcke, Immelmann, Wintgens, Parschau, Mulzer, Hvhndorf, Frankl and von Althaus quickly became the first aces, the first heroes to the German public and the first winners of the coveted Pour le Mirite - the famed Blue max. These and other pilots of the single-seat monoplane fighters caused havoc amongst British and French airmen over the Western Front for just over a year, something history has called the 'Fokker Scourge'. Although comparatively small in numbers, these early fighter pilots were deadly when attacking lightly armed, almost defenceless British and French aeroplanes; they were truly 'sharks among minnows'. Norman Franks has covered this period in detail, explaining how these early German fighter pilots achieved their kills, who they shot down and where, as well as covering their lives; for in most cases their lives were short. None of the early Fokker aces survivedthe war, bar one, and he died soon afterwards still serving his country. All were heroes and several of them died once they came up against 'sharks' of equal standing from the Allied side.