WE NEED YOUR HELP TO BRING IT BACK FROM NZ IN THE NEXT FEW MONTHS
The black Albatros with the huge Edelweiss as the steed of Otto Kissenberth who was born in Landshut, Bavaria. He worked at Otto-Flugzeugwerke (no relation) before the war and entered the air service as soon as hostilities commenced. Early in the war he flew Pfalz and Fokker monoplanes and then Albatros’ in Royal Bavarian Jasta 16b and chalked up 6 victories before taking command of Royal Bavarian Jasta 23b on 4 August 1917, where he would win his remaining 14 victories. Seriously injured after crashing his captured Sopwith Camel on 29 May 1918, Otto never returned to combat but commanded a flying school until the Armistice and would die in a mountaineering accident in August 1919 aged 26. Unusually there is no radiator shutter handle for the Daimler Mercedes radiator. Otto flew at least 3 different Albatros DVs marked with his large edelweiss, as well as an Albatros DVa, Pfalz DIIIa and Roland DVla.
Flying the Albatros DVa – Help Us Bring it Back in 2018
From the moment the pilot sits in this roomy and lofty cockpit he begins to feel sense of command, bordering on superiority perhaps. The two Spandaus and the huge Mercedes engine dominate and inspire confidence in this seemingly sturdy machine. Inside the cockpit however, an ergonomic disaster awaits! There is a collection of no less than 4 fuel system selector valves with a bewildering number of possible combinations, the instruments are scattered about in random places both inside and out, and interspersed amongst these are such curiosities as: an auxiliary emergency throttle lever and; a water pump greasier! Even still it remains a simple enough machine to operate. The engine once started, cannot fail to raise the blood of any petrol head… the huge 15 litre behemoth creating a reassuring deep bark, with its open exhaust pipe belching black smoke and red hot spits of carbon….. whilst its exposed tappets lazily rock away in timely order.
Taxiing the aircraft is a nightmare for which she was clearly not designed to endure. The very heavy tail with a fixed tailskid responds only to full forward stick, lots of power and full rudder. This results initially only in a very disconcerting, rapid acceleration towards whatever you were trying to miss! Followed, if one is brave enough to persist, by a disappointingly large turning circle! Take-off into wind and she poses no particular problem. You are rewarded with brisk acceleration, a short take off run and the most satisfying throb from that slow revving straight six now thundering its steady beat. She doesn’t disappoint in the climb either, the engine drags the fuselage skyward behind it as if had no need for its burdensome wings.
Once airborne the fantastic all around view becomes immediately apparent, the upper wing is well placed at eye level affording a good view below and forward past the narrow fuselage and engine, with a completely unrestricted view above the wing and behind. All so essential for a fighter aircraft. Her beautifully streamlined shape picks up speed immediately the nose is lowered, she climbs and retains energy very well. Dive, fire and zoom away westward or back up above the fray to try again was this fighter’s modus operandi…. and for good reason, as the DVa cannot be described as manoeuvrable. The ailerons are heavy and ineffective the rudder very light, but also disappoint. To become embroiled in a turning dogfight would not be at all advisable. No … this is a Teutonic interceptor … one not easily swayed from its chosen path. Caution and superior tactics are essential to its success.
This Nieuport 17 joining WW1 AHT is a full size flying reproduction and was built from 1992 to 1997 by Robert Gauld-Galliers and John Day, and until late last year was based at IWM Duxford. It had a film role in the 2006 film Flyboys – about the young American volunteers of the Lafayette Escadrille. It is powered by a Warner Scarab 7-cylinder radial engine – 165hp and owned and flown today John Gilbert, the aeroplane is one of several WW1 reproduction flying planes based here at Stow Maries.
The markings on this aeroplane are dedicated to N1977 of the Escadrille Lafayette, flown by Sergeant Robert Soubiran. Soubiran was an American aviator during World War One and was one of the first Americans to arrive in France in 1914, enlisting with the French Foreign Legion, he was one of 38 Americans who went on to join the Lafayette Escadrille. He later attained the rank of Major in the U.S. Air Force.
The Nieuport single seat fighters were one of the great classic marques of the Great War. Designed by Gustave Delage, this well-proportioned French aeroplane was operated by many air services including the RFC. The Nieuport 17 reached the French front in March 1916, and quickly began to replace the Nieuport 11 in French service. At that time, it was superior to any British fighter, and it became the popular mount of many Allied aces, including Albert Ball when he was in No. 60 Squadron.
In total 525 Nieuports (of all types) were ordered by the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Naval Air Service. Worthy of note is the fact that during part of 1916, the Nieuport 17 equipped every fighter squadron of the Aéronautique Militaire. (the French Air Force at that time). The Germans supplied captured examples to several of their aircraft manufacturers for them to copy. The type 17 was a slightly larger development of the earlier Nieuport 11, and had a more powerful engine, larger wings, and a more refined structure in general.
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Photo thanks to TLE/Kev Gregory