He was born in Bremen on January 8, 1894, the son of Professor Dr. Hermann Noltenius. He enrolled in medical school, but his studies were forcibly interrupted by the war. After the outbreak of the war, the twenty-year-old Friedrich volunteered for the army. On 4 August 1914 he was assigned to the field artillery regiment F.A.R. No. 13 "König Karl Würtemberg". After having to endure very hard training with the 2nd Reserve Hundredth, Noltenius was sent to the Eastern Front in December 1914 to gain experience.
On 21 June 1915, he was promoted to the rank of Gefreiter (corporal). On 17 November 1914, he was awarded the Iron Cross II Class and the very next day he was promoted to the rank of Unteroffizier (trooper). In December 1915, the regiment was transferred to the Western Front. Here, Unteroffizier Noltenius participated in its ranks in all the major ground battles fought on the Western Front in 1916-17.
5October 1916, he was promoted to the lowest officer rank of Leutnant (Lieutenant). On 6 April 1917, he suffered an unspecified wound. He was awarded the Iron Cross, First Class on 1 May, and subsequently on 5 July 1917 he was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Wü of the Order of Merit. Noltenius at this time began to consider his transfer to the Air Force. At that time he could often observe aerial combat overhead, and in addition he maintained a lively correspondence with a friend who was serving in the air force. These letters, as well as newspaper articles about "heroic aviators," probably inspired him to apply for a transfer to the Air Force.
In the Air Force
His service records indicate that on 3. 11. 1917, Noltenius was transferred at his own request to the training unit FEA 1 (Fliegerersatz-Abteilung 1) in Altenburg. During the next 4 months he was assessed as a promising adept and in February 1918 he was therefore transferred to Böblingen to FEA 10 for further training. Training was completed in May 1918 and Noltenius was sent to the front as a qualified pilot.
In early June, he arrived at AFP 7 (Armee Flug Park, a reserve centre from which new pilots and aircraft were forward deployed directly to combat squadrons). However, he spent quite a long time here before being sent on his first combat flight. To his disappointment, however, it was only a courier flight with a two-seater aircraft. This was followed by two weeks of service with an artillery observation unit of FAA 234. This service was not satisfactory, however, and he applied for a month's refresher course for fighter pilots. Therefore, in late June, he was sent to the Jagdstaffelschule II fighter pilot school. Here he apparently made an impression on the instructors, he himself noted in his diary that the control of single-seat fighters he goes "with extreme ease".
After the end of the course was 3. 7. 1918 (according to other sources only in mid-July) Lt. Noltenius transferred to Jasta 27, flying the famous Fokker D.VII. At the time, the air battles over the Western Front were of considerable strength. German troops were, as it later turned out, conducting their last offensive at Reims. Noltenius had to quickly gather combat experience, due to the hectic nature of the fighting there was no time for senior pilots to give him any significant training. The key was to survive the first week, those who did so were beginning to have a solid chance of surviving the next. If a pilot survived a month at the front, he could already count himself among the greats.
Noltenius actually made it, and five weeks (August 10, 1918) after his assignment to the frontline squadron, he achieved his first kill. This was during a major air battle in which the British lost a total of eight aircraft. One of them was Sopwith Dolphin, which was shot down by Noltenius at Puzeaux.
Ten days later he achieved a second success, this time taking aim at a tethered balloon. In this case, he chose a rather dangerous target. The observation balloons were heavily defended by anti-aircraft artillery and machine guns, and there were also usually patrols of their own fighters nearby to protect them.
Balloon Platoon protecting a balloon of Company B, US 2nd Balloon Squadron, Menil-la-Tour, France, March 1918. Noltenius shot down four American balloons in October 1918. However, strong defenses made the balloons dangerous targets... Image source: commons.wikimedia.org
Many great aces have avoided balloon attacks or "burned their fingers" the first time and then never attempted them again. Noltenius, on the other hand, sought out these risky actions. Interestingly, Noltenius achieved his second kill in the cockpit of the Pfalz D.XII. The Imperial Air Force was struggling with a shortage of fighter aircraft at the time. Pfalz D.XIIs were assigned to units armed with Fokker D.VIIs, as they were similar in performance. The squadrons then operated in mixed groups made up of both types. Although the Pfalz outperformed the Fokker in climb and dive, it had inferior manoeuvrability and was therefore disliked by the pilots. It was also more demanding to pilot and maintain on the ground.
It is not known exactly how many of his kills Noltenius achieved in this type, it seems that in addition to that balloon of 20 Aug, it may have been a third kill on 30 Aug, when a bomber D.H.4 crashed to the ground after hits from his guns. Then the very next day, he took down another fighter, the S.E.5a, definitively establishing himself among his unit's capable pilots.
And then came September.
The aforementioned German offensive at Reims ended within days due to the complete exhaustion of the German troops and considerable loss of manpower. In this situation, the Agreed Supreme Commanders decided to take the strategic initiative from early August onwards with a series of short, sharp strikes at various points along the front, to be followed by a final onslaught that would see the shaken German Army finally collapse.
It was clear that under these circumstances air activity would continue to increase. Moreover, at that time more aircraft were operating over the front than ever before. The consequence, of course, was an extraordinarily high intensity of air combat, which then peaked in September 1918.
In that month, German airmen claimed 721 kills, while the Allies admitted the loss of 647 aircraft and balloons. This was far more than for the fabled "Bloody April" of 1917. One reason for this was the overly large number of recruits in the Allied air units, who made up almost a third of the total flying personnel. These young pilots were supposed to make up for the losses suffered in the previous period (the RAF alone lost 765 dead in the last four months of fighting, more than double the total losses in 1914-16), but in reality they themselves were frequent prey to the more experienced German pilots. Nearly one in two were lost in combat action at that time. That is why this period is still known in British annals as "Black September."
In this situation the able German fighters reaped a ready harvest. Noltenius himself entered the action in this month with excellence - he shot down two Sopwith Camels as early as 2 September, reaching the 5th and 6th. victories, becoming an ace by international standards.
Fokker D.VII manufactured by OAW serial number 5056/I8, flown by Lt. F. T. Noltenius on I4/9 I9I8 through an exploding balloon. The aircraft was equipped with a non-standard exhaust pipe and telescopic sight. Based on available photographs, the nose does not appear to have carried the yellow paint that characterized Jasta 27 aircraft, but the tailplane may have been yellow (here left in lozenge color). The pilot's personal markings were the red and white stripes on the fuselage and upper wing, these colours being the symbol of Noltenius' native Bremen and the Hanseatic League. The fuselage has been described as "grey", but some authors believe it was merely a four-colour lozenge cloth matted with repainting. Grey paint was also apparently used for the trim of the emblems on the lower wing Image author: Zbyněk Válka, published with the kind permission of the author
Later that day, however, he nearly shot himself down! Later he wrote: "There was another combat flight that evening. We started to dive down on some Sopwiths. I quickly got within range, fired, and suddenly a mighty shock shook me - water from the radiator and gasoline fumes splashed into my face. I turned sharply, disengaged and unbuckled my seat belt, expecting the box to catch fire at any moment. I saw nothing and just flew away from the front as a first precaution since we were well above enemy territory. I had damn little time to get the machine back to our side. I was still taxiing when the engine went out. What happened? The engine cowling panels were loosened by the airflow and blocked the gun muzzles. This deflected my own bullets into the radiator and intake manifold!"
He added another kill on Sept. 14, but nearly paid for it with his life. For he attacked an Allied tethered balloon that day, but it failed to catch fire despite a long and uninterrupted burst of incendiary ammunition. Noltenius therefore fired until the last moment, but the balloon exploded only when Noltenius' Fokker D. VII was only 50 m away. The blast ripped the biplane's canvas from its seams, but did not tear it. The loose covering was now blowing in the wind and at any moment threatened to tear off and bring the aircraft down. The shreds of the wrapper of the destroyed balloon were again wedged between the controls, making the machine difficult to steer. Despite this, Nolteni managed to bring the crippled machine home and report a seventh kill.
This damaged Fokker D.VII was photographed at the JG III airfield sometime after the second decade of August, and could be the aircraft that Friedrich Noltenius was flying on 22 September 1918 when, during a clash with British Sopwiths, the "fabric covering of the upper wing was torn off and several ribs were broken" in a hectic dogfight. Noltenius had more such experiences, but survived each time Image source: commons.wikimedia.org
By the end of September, he had taken down four more aircraft (three Camels and one two-seater) and three balloons, doubling his number of victories. In doing so, he was not credited with the victory of 21 September over Camelo piloted by Canadian ace W. R. May, who had to make an emergency landing.
Several other confirmed victories were then allegedly claimed by other Jasta 27 pilots, so a furious Noltenius requested a transfer. On 28 September (three days after his last acknowledged kill in Jasta 27), he reported to Jasta 6, where he immediately made a good mark, having already set another Allied balloon on fire on 6 October. Four days later, he attacked a French Bréguet bomber accompanied by two SPADs and shot down one of the fighters.
On 18 October, he again left the unit at his own request, this time because of a personal disagreement with its four years younger commander, Lt. Ulrich Neckel (30 victories, the second-to-last German airman decoratedPour le Mérite), who accused Noltenia of arbitrarily abandoning him during air combat. This time Noltenius was sent to the famous Jasta 11. He was listed here in style, as on October 23 he shot down two balloons and one SPAD in one day. By 4/11, he then added two more DH.4 and two more balloons, bringing his tally to 21 officially recognized victories, including eight balloons. These achievements were accomplished in only three months of frontline deployment, an outstanding feat.
For his combat actions, he was awarded the Iron Cross I. and Class II and on 8 November 1918, as one of the last German airmen, he was awarded the Order of the Hohenzollern Dynasty. He was also nominated, along with 20 other aviators, for the Pour le Mérite, but due to the end of the war on 11 November 1918, he was not awarded this order.
After the war
After the war, Noltenius participated in the ranks of the Freikorps fighting against communist revolutionary groups. After the situation calmed down, he returned to medical school in 1920. In the spring of the same year, he passed his final exams. He began working as a nasal, ear and throat specialist in his native Bremen.
In 1923 he sailed to South America, where he married, became the father of three children and wrote two medical publications for which he received the international "Red Cross".
In 1933 he returned to Germany with his family and lived in Berlin. I don't want to speculate on his Nazi sympathies, but it is a fact that he returned just as the Nazis took power and that he conducted unspecified medical research for the Luftwaffe.
He was increasingly attracted to aviation again and in order to fly he renewed his civil flying licence. He was to make one of these flights in a Jungmann sports machine on 12 March 1936. However, on take-off at Johannistal Airport, he suddenly veered off course and crashed into a stationary Junkers. Doctor of Medicine F. T. Noltenius died while being taken to the hospital. He was buried with full military honors in Berlin.
Articles and literature used: Jon Guttman: Balloon-Busting Aces of World War 1, Osprey Publishing, 2005, ISBN-10: 1841768774
Norman Franks, Greg Van Wyngarden: Fokker D VII Aces of World War 1, Part 1, Osprey Publishing, 2003, ISBN-10: 1841765333
Norman L. R. Franks, Frank W. Bailey: Above the Lines: A Complete Record of the Fighter Aces of the German Air Service, Naval Air Service and Flanders Marine Corps, 1914-1918, Grub Street Publishing, 2008, ISBN-10: 0948817739
URL : https://www.valka.cz/Noltenius-Friedrich-Theodor-t70675#249192
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