Hermann’s Show and Tell 6

Control grip from a Fokker DVII (Paul Ernst Strähle)

Some years back my other mentor and dear friend the late Paul Ernst Strähle, named after his father the WWI ace sold me his dad’s control grip after an endless negotiation in the best Swabian haggling traditions. He used to always make negotiations difficult only to end up being most generous…… But with strict rules…….. I do miss him. In any case, this elaborate looking item has some interesting attributes to it. firstly, the double grip on the right (pilots left hand) is actually an auxiliary throttle enabling the pilot to keep his hands on the stick during flight and combat.

The other interesting feature are the triggers* for the machine guns. They have an interesting history. Manfred von Richthofen, the famous Red Baron and Germany’s highest scoring ace was an avid hunter and he saw aerial combat very much in this context…. A hunt. Therefore, he insisted that the guns should be fired by means of a trigger, hence the unconventional setup.

*A note on the side. Technically the engine would actually fire the machine gun. The triggers would merely engage a so-called interrupter gear which would in turn trigger the gun when the propeller was out of the way, or not if the setup were incorrect as the unfortunate ace Max Immelmann found out.