The concept itself was born in France. At the time of the Battle of Verdun, there was a need for a system that would encourage fighters and other pilots to try to surpass others in the number of shot down enemy aircraft. Major de Rose, Air Force Commander of II. Army, then replaced the hitherto inconsistent record of victories with accurate records and at the same time criteria were set for the recognition of achievements, primarily the testimony of their own ground troops. The pilot, who achieved five victories, was entitled to the title of ace ...
War ... No other word better describes human helplessness. People know that wars are terrible and do nothing good, but they have led, waged, and are likely to continue to wage them. Although they make it possible to manifest the worst and best human qualities, they are undoubtedly the most terrible that mankind has created. They accompany the development of man from his creation to the present day. And because humanity still can't do anything about it, they will probably fight in the future.
The ancient human desire to soar into the air, to free oneself from the gravity of the earth, to get closer to birds and to God, came true on December 17, 1903. On that day, a man rose into the air for the first time on a flying vehicle heavier than air.
The situation in Europe in 1914 was unsustainable. The Imperial conquests of the Trojspolk intersected with the interests of the Trojdohoda. It was more than obvious that sooner or later there would be a conflict.
It was obvious that the fighter must have very special characteristics. Above all, he must be faster, climb better and faster, and be able to operate at higher altitudes. Last but not least, he must be heavily armed and have very good maneuverability. These conditions clearly indicated the need for a high-performance engine and low weight for the entire machine.
On the Western Front, the Allies prepared several offensive operations in 1915, which were basically to test the possibility of breaking the German lines.
In the east, fierce fighting continued after the battle of East Prussia.
At the end of the summer of 1916, German war pilots woke up a nightmare in the form of a French Spad S.VII biplane, with the words "Vieux Charles" written on the fuselage, crashing headlong to the stern of their aircraft.
If it was a "material battle" on the ground near Verdun, then it was no different in the air. For the first time, larger aircraft formations began to compete here. The number of air battles was growing at a dizzying pace.
In April 1917, General Nivelle, who succeeded General Joffre as commander in chief of the French army, planned to break through German defensive positions on the heights at the Chemin des Dames. It was an enticing goal, because if successful, Allied troops would control a wide area all around the heights. From here it was possible to see the whole Champagnes plain and it was possible to secure the bridgehead of the river Aisne. However, this plan was doomed to failure from the beginning.
English pilots and mechanics wasted time telling terrifying stories in the haunting monsters of the hangars, waiting for orders. They whispered about planes that had returned to the airport with a dead crew, planes that had been missing for weeks and yet were seen again and again in the air, heralding losses in the ranks of the unit, or pilots who, although long dead, they came to the canteen without a word and left again, and sooner or later everyone they met also went to the realm of oblivion. However, none of these fables were more horrible than the legend of the " Red Baron . "
In addition to the famous victories, however, came the first defeats.
After the Battle of Cambrai, the winter of 1917/18 took place without dramatic events.
Knightly battles were irretrievably a thing of the past. Gone are the days when lone predators gliding across their rivals in the sky, this time when the famous masters were competing, was over.
Because Italy did not receive a guarantee of territorial gain from the Triple Entente at the beginning of the war, it declared its neutrality on August 3, 1914, despite the German pressure.
The German General Staff, aware of the stalemate on the Western Front, tried to resolve the conflict on another battlefield.
In September 1918, the RAF headquarters decided that Major Barker had done enough for the British Empire. He was therefore promoted to the rank of Lieutenant - Colonel (Lieutenant Colonel) and appointed commander of the Aviation School of Higher Pilotage in Hounslow, England.
After heavy losses, the offensive at Ypres finally stopped. However, RFC pilots did not have many opportunities to rest, because on April 20, 1917, a tank offensive was launched at Cambrai and RFC squadrons were designed to directly support ground troops.
At that time, there was also stagnation in the chemical war. The soldiers of both sides were no longer surprised, experience taught them to use protective masks quickly and effectively.
While Collishaw was on vacation in Vancouver, another excellent British fighter was at home in Canada. He was William Avery Bishop, known throughout France, Britain, Canada and the United States as "the incredible Billy Bishop" - an ace with 47 kills.
The massive German spring offensive on the Western Front in 1918, which has been mentioned several times, was made possible mainly by the events that took place in the autumn of the previous year in Russia. War operations on the Eastern Front required a different approach in all respects, including air combat. Mass air battles over the Western Front completely overshadowed the air battles taking place in the East. Nevertheless, a number of excellent aces served on both sides of the front.
On the evening of August 3, 1919, the day the British pilots held a farewell dinner for their Russian friends, Kazakov appeared in the hangar and ordered his Camel to prepare for flight.
On January 1, 1918, World War II entered its final year, although of course the men at the front had no idea. However, they prayed fervently for it. But the last year of the war was to be as horrible as any previous one. The fighting continued with unabated force, and modern flying knights were still racing over the front. The riders on the winged horses raced again and again into their aerial battles. They flew and flew, chasing through the clouds, living in the air and dying in the fire.
In the summer of 1918, German pilots found a fallen French pilot in a clip from a French newspaper, which was referred to as a German fighter as an "ace es" . Attached was his photograph and name - Lieutenant Udet. After Richthofen's death, Ernst Udet really had the most victories of all living German pilots. He then fought to stay in this position, and in the end he succeeded. He became the most successful living German fighter and the second most successful overall. However, this was preceded by three years of hard air fighting.
When Udet was on vacation, Richthofen fell. In JG I, some personnel changes took place and Udet was appointed commander of Jasta 4, belonging to JG I. On the eighth of June, in addition, Lieutenant Hermann Göring, then an ace with 21 victories, took command of JG I. However, his appointment was not deserved so much by his abilities as by his acquaintances in high places.
On May 8, 1918, Coppens had little time when, after three fruitless attacks on the "sausage", the Germans cut off the balloon and it struck Coppens' Hanriot from below. Fortunately, the fighter slipped on its cover ...
In the last months of the war, the Allied Air Force clearly demonstrated its numerical and material superiority. The German Air Force, although remaining combat-ready and dangerous until the end, could no longer stop them. In the case of some Allied pilots, the war turned into complete hunts for German aircraft and competition for the championship in the tables according to the number of victories.
It's almost unbelievable that I survived these exciting dangers then ... But you can handle a lot when you're young.
Arthur Gould Lee, Camel pilot at the 46th RFC Squadron in 1917-18
Numbers of victories of the most successful fighters
Some decorations mentioned in the text
Morane with deflectors can be considered the world's first fighter. The deflectors were very primitive, but, as practice has shown, they were also very effective.
By his flight to Moscow, the naive man gave Mikhail Gorbachev a reason for an extensive purging under the command of the Soviet army.
existing in the territory of today's Czech Republic
Samo's empire; The Great Moravia