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Other WWI Aviation Airfields, equipment, tactics, training, uniforms and all other WWI aviation topics

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Old 1 February 2012, 09:43 PM   #21 (permalink)
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By the By, does anyone know where I might get a WW1 American flight officers uniform done up? Either ready made or a tailor made to order. Any websites for this type of thing?

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Old 8 February 2012, 10:12 AM   #22 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by kevin View Post
By the By, does anyone know where I might get a WW1 American flight officers uniform done up? Either ready made or a tailor made to order. Any websites for this type of thing?

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Kevin you could try this site. I'm in the process of ordering myself a summerweight AEF tunic and breeches.

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Old 10 February 2012, 09:08 PM   #23 (permalink)
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As mentioned earlier the German Heineke parachute was far from perfect and several airmen, like Erich Lowenhardt were killed trying to use it in combat.
The chutes used by balloon observers were attached to the side of the basket and could afford to be relatively large but if you've seen any WW1 fighters close up one of the first things you notice is how small the cockpits were. (Last year at the French aviation museum I looked inside Guynemers Spad VII wondered if a regular sized guy today could manage to fit in it, even without a parachute). I recently wrote a biography of Adolphe Pegoud, the creator of acrobatic flying and the first ace. In the spring of 1913 Pegoud jumped from an old Bleriot XI from less than 900 feet using a parachute, but it was packed into a canvas sleeve positioned behind the cockpit.

Another factor were prevailing attitudes among British, French and German leaders that pilots might abandon their expensive machines at the first sign of trouble if they had a means of escape. It took awhile for all sides to realize that trained, experienced pilots were hard to come by.

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Old 12 February 2012, 06:40 AM   #24 (permalink)
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I have been hearing that (*) , in French army where aviation was first tied to Cavalry , the headquarters ( non flying old generals ) didn't want to supply pilots with parachutes because :- it's what they thought - the pilots , from popular origin , would be tempted to abendon their plane too easily if they could do it with parachute.....
These HQ officers currently assessed the courage and military value of people folks dressed in soldiers ,with reference to their own fears of any battlefield dangers (**). And for a horse rider , the pilots was some kinds of accrobates and jugglers.
The idea of army that professionnal militaries had was a kind of upper class , very proud in words , for "their" soldiers courage values , but not very keen at risking their own and very valuable life.

Technicaly , Parachutes were very easy and quick to adapt to fit planes ... if any will had been on it . ( they were used on artillery baloons) .
Just look at how quick the armament of planes were improoved on any demand ( through-prop firing , or Guynemer and his canons "petadou".) But there has been some other element against this
"confort device"'s what I am trying to find .

The sate of mind in Etat Major was very special ! The number of killed of our own soldiers seemed to be a matter of pride for the general responsible of an offensive ! ( Nivelle has been criticized openly for this... little flaw...) They seem to live miles away from the butchering machine they managed and fed every day.

I have heard that story several times , and , with what we could know about actual courage of the french HQ officers , and their contempt for canon flesh , this story don't seems too unlikely.
If anyone knows something precise on this topic ...

(*) Story first told by the father of my aunt who was the mechanics in charge of the plane of the pilot named Jules Vιdrine , and very close friend of him. Later on, he was ingeneer designing locomotives.
(**) the enormous gap between the number of simple soldiers dead and general deads during WWI , is self explaining .
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Old 6 March 2012, 05:33 PM   #25 (permalink)
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The reasons why parachutes weren't worn are unclear, even to those who flew in WW1. Harold E. Hartney, for example, who served in both the RFC and US Air Service, later wrote in his memoirs, Up and At 'Em (near the beginning of Chapter 11), "Why our fliers didn't have them [parachutes] during the war I shall never know . . . In the World War it would have saved us scores and scores of our aviators' lives." (In Chapter 14 of the same book though, somewhat inconsistently, Hartney opines that the use of parachutes could result in some pilots bailing out too readily and states that pilots felt it was "sissy" to wear 'chutes.) Arthur S. Gould Lee, MC, who flew in the RFC/RAF, wrote in one of his books, No Parachute (at the beginning of Appendix C), that "Nothing more mystified the pilots and observers of the RFC, RNAS and RAF during 1917-18 than the dour refusal of their High Command to provide them with parachutes."

The best study on this question of parachutes that I've ever seen, is one done by the above-cited Arthur Gould Lee. Driven by his deep personal interest in the topic, Lee, who became a career RAF officer after the war and rose to the rank of Air Vice-Marshal, closely examined all War Office files from 1914-18 relating to parachutes. His account of his findings and conclusions appear in Appendix C ("Why No Parachutes?") at the end of his bookNo Parachute.

His work is too long to repeat here in detail, but here's a very brief summary of his conclusions:

1) Promising parachute designs existed even before the war, but during the war little thought was given by anybody in authority to developing or adapting them for general use in airplanes. It is true that the primitive airplane of 1915-16 could not have carried the weight of a parachute without some sacrifice of performance, but this wasn't true of airplanes in 1917-18. A practical and reliable parachute could have been developed within a few months, by refining existing designs.

2) Some British officers claimed that fliers didn't wish to carry parachutes. But these were senior RFC and RNAS officers "who had never experienced fierce lethal air combat, nor witnessed the desperate need of comrades falling to their death in broken or burning planes". Those in the fighting ranks felt differently. "[T]he active-service flier did not want to wait for perfection. He wanted something quickly, that would offer a hope of escape . . . Even if the parachute were not infallible it would offer a sporting chance, which was better than a death that was certain."

3) Concern that parachutes might encourage fliers to abandon their aircraft too quickly and without a determined fight is an "invention" and was NOT an official attitude. Lee's own view too was that, from early 1917, "there were few fliers with any experience of air fighting who were not obsessed to some degree, though usually secretly, with the thought of being shot down in flames . . . To all these a parachute would have been a stiffener to strain and morale."

4) General Trenchard cannot be blamed for the official bias against parachutes, as he sometimes has been years afterward. During the early and middle stages of the war, Trenchard was not the dominating figure he later became. He simply did not have the influence, through much of the war, to impose his views on officers of equal or higher rank and to single-handedly scupper the use of parachutes (even if he had wanted to). Also, as one who was a commander in the field through most of the war, he would've been "much too preoccupied with weighty day-to-day problems of high direction to be able to intervene frequently in this one question of technical equipment."

Lee's bottom line conclusion:

For the failure to introduce parachutes into the RFC/RAF in 1917-18, "no one man, nor even any specific group of men, can in fairness be indicted. It was the collective official mind actuated by intangible prejudice which was responsible. As Calthrop wrote with understandable bitterness in January 1919: 'No one in high quarters had any time to devote to investigating the merits of an appliance whose purpose was so ridiculously irrelevant to war as the saving of life in the air.' "
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Old 6 March 2012, 07:51 PM   #26 (permalink)
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Ian Sumner in his book German Air Forces 1914-1918 stated,

"The first man to use the new Heinecke-parachute was VFw. Weimar of Jasta 56, who successfuly baled out of his burning Albatros D.Va on 1 April 1918. However of the 70 or so men who followed, about a third were killed"

If we look at the Top 7 German Aces, who were still alive when parachutes were issued,

1. Ernst Udet – 62 Vics – Bailed once and lived
2. Erich Loewenhardt – 54 Vics – Bailed once but was killed
3. Josef Jacobs – 48 Vics – Bailed twice and lived
4. Fritz Rumey – 45 Vics – Bailed once but was killed
5. Rudolph Berthold – 44 Vics – Never bailed
6. Bruno Loerzer – 44 Vics – Never bailed
7. Paul Baeumer – 43 Vics – Bailed once and survived

Thats six jumps for seven men, of which four were successful. If fits nicely to the 2/3rds success rate.

"We tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress, while producing confusion, inefficiency and demoralization." Gaius Petronius, AD 66
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Old 6 March 2012, 08:53 PM   #27 (permalink)
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I recall reading in 'No Parachute' that the first parachutes issued to fighter pilots after the war was over, were identical to those used by balloon observers for the greater part of the war?
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Old 7 March 2012, 04:20 AM   #28 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Scorpiounbound View Post
It is with questions like this that the deep technical knowledge of Dan San Abbott is missed...
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Agree! Luckily, Dan San is still with us through the "Search" function and I recommend new members to take the time to look through old threads for a lot of good info; for example, Dan San answers questions about the following (check it out "Heinecke Fallschirm - German Parachute Questions".
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Old 7 March 2012, 06:27 AM   #29 (permalink)
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As DSA says in the article, the list provided is partial.
In Ejection History site there are over 40 bail outs, by German Aviators, recorded:


We should take into consideration, that many of the disastrous bail outs, were not due to parachute opening failure,
but because of the parachute canopy been eaten by flames!
I will try to find the exact number of real parachute failures and give a more accurate statistic figure...

Edit: OK, I found a more complete list of the 1918 bail outs by German and Austro Hungarian aviators:


According to the above site's list:

Total bail outs: 50 (47 Germany-3 Austro Hungary)

Opening failures: 6

Fatal conclusion due to fire: 3

Fatal conclusion due to sustained wounds or accident: 5

Last edited by elephant; 7 March 2012 at 06:33 AM.
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Old 7 March 2012, 08:08 AM   #30 (permalink)
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I think if you look at the photos of JG 1 on the flight line in late summer,it is clear what those men thought of parachutes as 90% are wearing the harness.At least the German air service gave their pilots the option to wear one or not.

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