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All Articles Tagged 'Knights of the Air' (94)

Knights of the Air: The HMS Furious, one of the first aircraft carriers

Welcome to Knights of the Air, a weekly series on Dieselpunks spotlighting the aces and pioneering aerial technology of World War I.

From the moment the flying machine showed signs of military usefulness, navies of the world sought ways to employ airplanes at sea. In a 1910 experiment, American pilot Eugene Ely took off in a Curtiss biplane down a sloping ramp built above the foredeck of the cruiser USS Birmingham. The plane dipped so low that the…

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Added by Tome Wilson on April 19, 2012 at 12:00pm — 2 Comments

Knights of the Air: The War in Stained Glass

Welcome to Knights of the Air, a weekly series on Dieselpunks spotlighting the aces and pioneering aerial technology of World War I.

Their motives were many, and some perhaps naïve: adventure, glory, a simple urge, as one of them said, “to get into the scrap.” But as Edwin Parsons said many years later of his former squadron, the Lafayette Escadrille, “I don’t know a single one of the boys who didn’t have a deep-seated desire to help France.”

The…

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Added by Tome Wilson on April 12, 2012 at 12:00pm — 1 Comment

Knights of the Air: WWI as envisioned by the Japanese (circa 1915)

Welcome to Knights of the Air, a weekly series on Dieselpunks spotlighting the aces and pioneering aerial technology of World War I.

In a scene that could have been pulled straight from HG Wells' classic War in the Air, a mighty air and sea battle between German and British forces is imagined in this fanciful 1915 Japanese lithograph.…

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Added by Tome Wilson on April 5, 2012 at 12:00pm — 6 Comments

Knights of the Air: The pilots of the Lafayette Escadrille and their pet lions

Welcome to Knights of the Air, a weekly series on Dieselpunks spotlighting the aces and pioneering aerial technology of World War I.

Every once in a while, I run across an image so weird I would swear it was Photoshopped (even if the photo pre-dated Photoshop by about 85 years).  Knowing that the early days of photography were full of pranksters, I looked into the…

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Added by Tome Wilson on March 29, 2012 at 12:00pm — 3 Comments

Knights of the Air: WWI Pilot Certificate from France

Welcome to Knights of the Air, a weekly series on Dieselpunks spotlighting the aces and pioneering aerial technology of World War I.  This week, we're showcasing a piece from my personal collection.

This French pilot's certificate, typical of the credentials…

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Added by Tome Wilson on March 22, 2012 at 12:00pm — No Comments

Knights of the Air: Sgt. Mystery

Hail the minor powers! Their aces probably achieved less than von Richthoffen (or Ball, or Guynemer, or "Billy" Bishop) but their bravery should be remembered.

So why not remember a Belgian ace of the once-famous "Thistle squadron" - Andre de Meulemeester. Meet him and his live…

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Added by lord_k on March 15, 2012 at 2:30pm — 4 Comments

Knights of the Air: Forssman Ten-Engine Triplane

It never dropped a single pound of incentives in anger. Actually, it never flew. Designed too late to be ready for her maiden flight before the Armistice, it remains a dark enigma even today, 95 years after the Great War.

Those who like to talk about Wunderwaffe and Amerika Bomber all but ignore the Kaiserreich secret projects. The…

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Added by lord_k on March 8, 2012 at 11:00am — 3 Comments

Knights of the Air: Luft'18

I always wondered why the word Wunderwaffe is applied only to the late-WWII German projects.

In the history of WWI there is a whole lot of weird and scary "wonderweapons". And if you think that the DFW giant bomber was the only one with Mercedes inside,…

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Added by lord_k on March 1, 2012 at 1:00pm — 1 Comment

Knights of the Air: The Winner

The guy at the controls was a businessman, a writer and a socialite. First and foremost, he was an aviator.

 But a WWI ace he wasn't - although his contribution to war effort cannot be overlooked.

"Owned one of the first petrol-driven cars in England; toured South Africa;…

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Added by lord_k on February 23, 2012 at 7:30am — No Comments

Knights of the Air: Mercedes Inside!

Among all WWI bomber designs, German DFW biplanes earn a special mention, thanks to their unusual powertrain.

The first was the R.I (don't forget that "R" index is for Riesenflugzeug, i.e. giant airplane). Developed as a private venture by DFW, it was a…

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Added by lord_k on February 16, 2012 at 7:00am — 1 Comment

Knights of the Air: The Unlucky Schmitt

In wartime, even of the most brilliant technical innovation can lead to a failure.

This is exactly what happened to a talented French engineer, his story told by Gary Warne (Warnepieces blog):

Variable Incidence, the mechanical…

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Added by lord_k on February 9, 2012 at 7:30am — 4 Comments

Knights of the Air: Something Different

Meet Oberleutnant Max (Maximilian Karl) Hesse.

Here he is, holding a dog, with Leutnant Rudolf Stanger. Hesse was not an ace but he had an illustrious war career, crash-landing in the enemy territory in 1914 and being the pilot of the first plane in history which corrected artillery fire through wireless messages (Jan. 12, 1915). Promoted to Hauptmann, he was…

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Added by lord_k on February 2, 2012 at 1:30pm — 2 Comments

Hazardous duty aboard the Airborne Sausages

Welcome to Knights of the Air, a weekly series on Dieselpunks spotlighting the aces and pioneering aerial technology of World War I.

Airborne Sausage PICTURED ABOVE: German ground troops watch as a balloon begins its ascent on the Western…

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Added by Tome Wilson on January 19, 2012 at 12:00pm — 7 Comments

Knights of the Air - This guy took on a Zeppelin with a kitchen knife

Welcome to Knights of the Air, a weekly series on Dieselpunks spotlighting the aces and pioneering aerial technology of World War I.

The most flamboyant and tireless of the Allied aces was a 20 year old French sublieutenant named Jean Navarre.  He spent as many as 9 - 10 hours a day in the air over Verdun, coming down only to refuel his plane, reload his guns, and revive with a snack & some wine.  He flew his Nieuports with a combination…

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Added by Tome Wilson on January 5, 2012 at 12:00pm — 2 Comments

Knights of the Air - Eyewitness art by a bombardier

Lieutenant Henri Farré, an observer-bombardier with the French air corps, carried a sketch pad with him everywhere he went—even into the air. His sketches, which he later committed to canvas, constitute an eyewitness record of the air war that, as Farré said, "was not only painted, but lived by me on the different fronts of France."

Oftentimes, the record was a somber one. The two paintings shown here describe the death of one of Farré’s fellow aviators, killed by enemy bullets while…

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Added by Tome Wilson on December 22, 2011 at 8:00am — 1 Comment

Knights of the Air - WWI Flying Aces of France

France, moreso than probably any other nation, lionized its airmen during The Great War. Even before the War, flamboyant stunt pilots like Adolphe Pégoud (pictured below) were national heroes, and once the fighting began, these experienced French fliers earned still greater renown as they pioneered the techniques of aerial combat. Pégoud was the first to achieve the five victories that became the required number to be counted an “ace.”

The term itself was coined in France and…

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Added by Tome Wilson on December 7, 2011 at 12:00pm — No Comments

Knights of the Air - Making the most of life between missions

Aviators on both sides lived more comfortably than soldiers in the trenches. At best, home might be a commandeered chateau where wine, cooks, batmen*, and a range of sporting activities made for a highly civilized life during wartime.

To unwind, the airmen read books, wrote letters, listened to music, and made their own entertainment. For example, some squadrons became famous for boisterous parties; others organized variety shows.

Whenever possible, the airmen sought the…

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Added by Tome Wilson on December 1, 2011 at 12:00pm — 2 Comments

Knights of the Air: The Iron Ace

In the Misty Skies of WWI France, History is written with flaming guns.

Yank airman Hugh McQuillen had smashed his way into those history books as “The Iron Ace.” Flying his deadly war plane adorned with the Laughing Skull, he was a grim and unrelenting instrument of war who killed Germans with such ruthless efficiency that he became known on both sides of the line as “The…

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Added by lord_k on November 24, 2011 at 10:30am — 2 Comments

Knights of the Air: Curtiss Triplanes

American chapter of the multiplane saga is surprisingly "meaty". During the Great War, Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company designed numerous triplanes.

Here is an artist's impression of the Curtiss Triplane flying boat, published in the Flight magazine (UK) in 1916. The real thing was even more impressive. In 1915, the American businessman Rodman Wanamaker commissioned Curtiss to…

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Added by lord_k on November 17, 2011 at 11:30am — 4 Comments

Knights of the Air: Experimental Quadruplanes

The most exotic flying machines built during the Great War, they never saw combat.

Five year before the start of hostilities, from ca. 1909, the American inventor Matthew Sellers made a series of flights in the Sellers 1909 Quadruplane, progressively fitted with powerplants of decreasing power, in order to investigate low-powered flight. He eventually achieved flight on only 5…

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Added by lord_k on November 10, 2011 at 8:30am — 5 Comments

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