Godwin von Brumowski

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Godwin von Brumowski
Albatd3.jpg
An Oeffag built Albatros DIII flown by Godwin von Brumowski; on the left.
Born 26 July 1889
Wadowice, Galicia
Died 3 June 1936
Schiphol, Netherlands
Allegiance Austria-Hungary
Years of service 1910 - 1918
Rank Hauptmann
Unit

Fliegerkompanie 1, Fliegerkompanie 12 of the Luftfahrtruppen

Jasta 24 of the Luftstreitkräfte
Commands held Fliegerkompanie 41J of the Luftfahrtruppen
Awards Order of the Iron Crown, Order of Leopold, Medal for Bravery, Military Merit Medal, Iron Cross

Godwin von Brumowski (26 July 1889 – 3 June 1936) was the most successful fighter ace of the Austro-Hungarian Air Force during World War I. He was officially credited with 35 air victories, (including 12 shared with other pilots) with 8 others unconfirmed because they fell behind Allied lines. Just before the war ended, von Brumowski rose to command of all his country’s fighter aviation fighting Italy on the Isonzo front.

Life before entry into air service[edit]

On 26 July 1889, Godwin von Brumowski was born into a military family in Wadowice, Galicia, in Poland. He attended the Technical Military Academy in Vienna and graduated as a lieutenant commissioned into the 29th Field Artillery Regiment[1] on 18 August 1910. He was serving in the 6th Artillery Division and had just turned 25 years of age when war was declared against Serbia on 28 July 1914. He served on the Eastern front against Russia, winning both a Bronze and Silver Military Medal for Bravery before transferring to air service in der kaiserliche und königliche Luftfahrtruppen (the Imperial and Royal Aviation Troops).

Aerial Service[edit]

He was posted to Fliegerkompagnie 1 (Flik 1) at Czernowitz, commanded by Hauptmann Otto Jindra, in July 1915; von Brumowski was thus initially assigned as an aerial observer on the Russian Front.[2] His flight log describes him as 1.77 meters (5 feet 10 inches) tall, with blue eyes and light blond hair.[citation needed]

On 12 April 1916 Jindra and von Brumowski crewed one of the seven Austro-Hungarian planes that participated in bombing a military review attended by Czar Nicholas II. In the process, they shot down two of the seven Russian Morane-Saulnier Parasol two-seaters that attempted to drive them off.[2]

On 3 July 1916 von Brumowski became a pilot with Flik 1,[2] despite the defective vision in his right eye that he corrected with a monocle. In November, he transferred to Flik 12[3] on the Italian Front.[4] He helped down an Italian Caproni bomber on 3 December. On 2 January he became an ace when he was victorious over an Italian Farman two-seater while piloting a Hansa-Brandenburg C.I.[3] It is notable that von Brumowski became an ace while still flying two-seater craft basically unsuited for air to air combat.

The next month, when Flik 41J was established on the Italian Front as Austro-Hungary’s first dedicated fighter squadron, von Brumowski was chosen to command it. He spent nine days in March flying four sorties with the Germans of Jagdstaffel 24 to learn German fighter tactics, before assuming his command. While here he met the Red Baron, Manfred von Richthofen;[5] von Brumowski would later copy the baron's aircraft paint scheme for his own plane.[6]

Brumowski continued amassing victories through May, ending the month with a total of eight. By now, he was flying a single seat fighter, the Hansa-Brandenburg D.I. Although better suited for air to air combat than the C.1, it still suffered three major disadvantages: the pilot's vision was partially obstructed; the single machine gun was not synchronized to fire through the propeller arc,[7] and it was a tricky craft to fly because it was easy to spin[8] at any altitude.[9] Aiming and firing a gun mounted above and ahead of the pilot[3] was more difficult than simply aiming the airplane at the enemy and firing a synchronized gun.

As was customary with Austro-Hungarian units, Flik 41j had an assortment of aircraft types available. In June 1917 von Brumowski flew an Aviatik D.I with no combat success.[10] The Austro-Hungarian Fliks were also hampered by a doctrine that tied them to escort of reconnaissance aircraft instead of freeing them to rove and hunt in the German fashion.

In July 1917 Flik 41J lost eleven of the D.I fighters in accidents; the Hansa-Brandenburg's nickname became "the flying coffin".[9]

In August 1917 von Brumowski scored a remarkable streak of victories, being credited with 12 confirmed and 6 unconfirmed kills between the 10 and 28 August. Two of these victories, on the 19th and 20th, were the result of a partial transition to a newer fighter plane, a German Albatros D.III with twin synchronized guns. On the 20th he scored once with the Albatros and twice with the Hansa-Brandenburg D.I. By the end of August the transition was complete; he would use the Albatros to score the rest of his victories.[11]

On 9 October 1917 he shot down and burned an observation balloon for his 22nd victory; it was the first of five balloons he would down.[11] His Albatros that day was painted all red, in emulation of von Richthofen, with the addition of mustard colored skulls on either side of the fuselage. This paint scheme would become characteristic of his aircraft until war’s end.[6]

On 1 February 1918 von Brumowski became involved in a fight with eight enemy fighters. Some of the 26 bullets striking his Albatros ignited the fuel tank built into the upper wing. He managed to land at his home field without serious injury, becoming a rare survivor of an in-craft fire. The fire ate the fabric off the upper wing and the inboard portions of the lower one, leaving only the scorched bare spars and struts of the wing roots.[6]

Three days later, while flying another Albatros he fought eight English fighters and took multiple machine gun hits. With his wings breaking up he still managed to land, though the Albatros flipped over and was totally destroyed.[6]

Brumowski fought on until 23 June 1918, when he was ordered on extended leave. His last successful fight was on 19 June; he scored his 35th victory and suffered 37 hits in his plane. He had flown 439 combat sorties, but his combat career was ended.[6]

Also on 23 June he was invited by Generaloberst (Colonel-General) Ferdinand to make the customary mandatory application for Austria-Hungary's highest decoration, the Knight's Cross of the Military Order of Maria Theresa. Brumowski's reply:[12]

"If I have earned this award through my service, then it should be cause enough for the Commander in Chief to present it to me. It is not my duty to ask or demand it."[12]

Austria-Hungary's leading fighter ace never received his nation's highest award.[12]

On 11 October even though he was still only a Hauptmann (Captain), he was named to command all Austro-Hungarian fighter squadrons on the Isonzo Front. World War I ended a month later.[12][13]

Post war career[edit]

The grave of Godwin von Brumowski at Zentralfriedhof in Vienna, Austria.

The end of the war left von Brumowski at loose ends. After a spell in Vienna, he farmed his widowed mother-in-law’s land in Transylvania for ten years. As a city dweller lacking the Hungarian language skills to communicate with his farm workers, he bore serious handicaps. He had little success.[12]

Brumowski took the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire very hard. He indulged in hazardous pursuits, seeking the thrill of danger by racing automobiles about on the poor local roads, riding horses into exhaustion, hunting in the mountains. He threw parties, danced, swam, ice skated to distract himself. He finally left his wife and daughter and began a flying school in Vienna in 1930, and remarried.[12]

During the early 1930s von Brumowski piloted aircraft on behalf of the conservative Heimwehr militia. During the brief Austrian Civil War in 1934 he flew several reconnaissance missions as well as a single combat sortie.[citation needed]

On 3 June 1936, he died in a plane crash while instructing an Austrian student at Schiphol Airfield, in the Netherlands. His life was summarized thus by his daughter: "He was a very unique and interesting person either very much loved, or hated, and even considered crazy by many."[12]

Awards and decorations[edit]

This article incorporates information from the equivalent article on the German Wikipedia.

List of aerial victories[edit]

See also Aerial victory standards of World War I

Confirmed victories are numbered. Victories marked "u/c" were unconfirmed.

No. Date/time Aircraft Foe Result Location Notes
1 12 April 1916 Albatros B.I serial number 22.23 Morane-Saulnier Parasol of the Imperial Russian Air Service Destroyed in crash; pilot seriously wounded Iszkowcy, north of Chotin Brumowski's pilot: Otto Jindra
2 12 April 1916 Albatros B.I s/n 22.23 Morane-Saulnier Parasol of the Imperial Russian Air Service Destroyed in crash; pilot injured West of Chotin Brumowski's pilot: Otto Jindra
3 2 May 1916 at 0945 hours Albatros B.I s/n 22.30 Morane-Saulnier Parasol of the IRAS Crew seriously injured in crash landing Lysskowcy Victory shared with Kurt Gruber
4 3 December 1916 in the afternoon Hansa-Brandenburg Star-Strutter s/n 65.53 Italian Caproni Ca.1 s/n 1233 Driven down behind Austro-Hungarian lines; 4 aircrew captured East of Mavhinje Victory shared with Gottfried Freiherr von Banfield and another pilot
5 2 January 1917 in the afternoon Hansa-Brandenburg C.I s/n 68.24 Italian Farman Forced to land Vicinity of Lago di Doberdò Brumowski's observer: J. G. Telekes
6 10 May 1917 Hansa-Brandenburg Star-Strutter s/n 28.10 Voisin Forced to land in enemy territory Monfalcone
u/c 12 May 1917 Hansa-Brandenburg Star-Strutter s/n 28.10 Italian Farman Forced down in enemy territory
7 12 May 1917 Hansa-Brandenburg Star-Strutter s/n 28.10 Italian Nieuport scout Crashed "Enemy territory"
u/c 13 May 1917 Hansa-Brandenburg Star-Strutter s/n 28.11 Twin engine Voisin two-seater
8 20 May 1917 @ 1030 hours Hansa-Brandenburg Star-Strutter s/n 28.10 French Spad two-seater Forced to land; pilot wounded in action Monte Santo Victory shared with Karl Kaszala
9 17 July 1917 Hansa-Brandenburg Star-Strutter s/n 28.57 Twin-engine Voisin Crashed into the river in flames; observer WIA Isonzo River Victory shared with two other pilots
10 10 August 1917 Hansa-Brandenburg Star-Strutter s/n 28.69 Italian Nieuport scout Landed with stopped engine Chiapovano
11 11 August 1917 Hansa-Brandenburg Star-Strutter s/n 28.57 Italian Caudron two-seater Set afire Plava Victory shared with another pilot
12 11 August 1917 @ 2000 hours Hansa-Brandenburg Star-Strutter s/n 28.69 Caudron two-seater Set afire West of Plava
13 14 August 1917 Hansa-Brandenburg Star-Strutter s/n 28.69 Italian single-seater sea plane Set afire Vicinity of Grado
u/c 14 August 1917 Hansa-Brandenburg Star-Strutter s/n 28.69 Italian single-seater seaplane Forced to land Vicinity of Grado
u/c 18 August 1917 Hansa-Brandenburg Star-Strutter s/n 28.69 Italian two-seater Caudron Forced to land Monte Santo
14 18 August 1917 Hansa-Brandenburg Star-Strutter s/n 28.69 Caudron Forced to land Monte Santo
u/c 19 August 1917 Hansa-Brandenburg Star-Strutter s/n 28.69 Italian single-seater seaplane Forced to land
u/c 19 August 1917 Hansa-Brandenburg Star-Strutter s/n 28.69 Italian single-seater seaplane Forced to land
15 19 August 1917 Albatros D.III s/n 153.06 Two-seater Caudron Crashed in flames Between Karinë and Ivangrad
16 20 August 1917 Albatros D.III s/n 153.06 Italian two-seater Caudron San Giovanni[disambiguation needed]-Monfalcone Victory shared with two other pilots
17 20 August 1917 Hansa-Brandenburg Star-Strutter s/n 28.69 Two-seater Caudron Vicinity of Vrtojba
18 21 August 1917 Hansa-Brandenburg Star-Strutter s/n 28.69 Enemy airplane Monte Santo Victory shared with Frank Linke-Crawford
19 22 August 1917 Hansa-Brandenburg Star-Strutter s/n 28.69 Savoia-Pomilio Forced to land Gorizia Victory shared with Frank Linke-Crawford
20 23 August 1917 @ 1040 hours Hansa-Brandenburg Star-Strutter s/n 28.69 Italian Savoia-Pomilio two-seater Forced to land; captured Báté Victory shared with Frank Linke-Crawford and another pilot. Italian pilot and observer captured
u/c 25 August 1917 Hansa-Brandenburg Star-Strutter s/n 28.69 Sopwith two-seater Enemy observer wounded or dead Enemy territory Also claimed by Frank Linke-Crawford
21 26 August 1917 Hansa-Brandenburg Star-Strutter s/n 28.69 Italian Spad single-seater Monte San Gabriele Victory shared with Frank Linke-Crawford
u/c 28 August 1917 Hansa-Brandenburg Star-Strutter s/n 28.69 Savoia-Pomilio two-seater Forced to land Enemy territory
22 9 October 1917 @ 1700 hours Albatros D.III s/n 153.45 Italian Observation balloon Set afire; observer parachuted Isola Morosini, in the Shobba Estuary Victory shared with Frank Linke-Crawford, Kurt Gruber
23 5 November 1917 Albatros D.III s/n 153.45 Macchi L.3 two-seater flying boat Forced down and destroyed; crew KIA West of Latisana Victory shared with Frank Linke-Crawford, Rudolf Szepessy-Sokoll
24 5 November 1917 Albatros D.III s/n 153.45 Macchi L3 two-seater flying boat Crashed into a canal Baseleghe, west of Latisana Victory shared with Frank Linke-Crawford, Rudolf Szepessy-Sokoll
25 17 November 1917 Albatros D.III s/n 153.45 Observation balloon Piave River Estuary
26 23 November 1917 Albatros D.III s/n 153.45 Nieuport scout Forced to land Mouth of the Piave River, near Cortelazzo Victory shared with Frank Linke-Crawford
27 23 November 1917 Albatros D.III s/n 153.45 Nieuport scout Forced to land Mouth of the Piave River, near Cortelazzo Victory shared with Frank Linke-Crawford
28 28 November 1917 Albatros D.III s/n 153.52 Savoia-Pomilio two-seater Casa Serpo Victory shared with Karl Kaszala
29 13 December 1917 Albatros D.III s/n 153.52 Observation balloon Set afire In the vicinity of Meolo Victory shared with Karl Kaszala, Frank Linke-Crawford
30 25 March 1918 Albatros D.III s/n 153.45 SIA 7b two-seater Set afire South of Oderzo Pilot and observer KIA
31 17 April 1918 Albatros D.III s/n 153.45 Sopwith Camel Arcade, Italy Victory shared with Miroslav Navratil
32 16 June 1918 Albatros D.III s/n 153.209 Observation balloon Set afire Spresiano
33 19 June 1918 @ 1545 hours Albatros D.III s/n 153.209 Observation balloon Set afire In the vicinity of Passarella
34 19 June 1918 Albatros D.III s/n 153.209 Italian two-seater Set afire Comtee, south of Candelu Pilot and observer KIA; victory shared with another pilot
35 19 June 1918 Albatros D.III s/n 153.209 Ansaldo SVA.5 Montello [14]

References[edit]

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ Austro-Hungarian Aces of World War 1. pp. 50–51. 
  2. ^ a b c Austro-Hungarian Aces of World War 1. p. 51. 
  3. ^ a b c amazon.com
  4. ^ swwisa.net
  5. ^ Austro-Hungarian Aces of World War 1. pp. 51–52. 
  6. ^ a b c d e Austro-Hungarian Aces of World War 1. p. 53. 
  7. ^ theaerodrome.com
  8. ^ books.google.com
  9. ^ a b amazon.com
  10. ^ books.google.com
  11. ^ a b theaerodrome.com. Retrieved 2 April 2010.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g Above the War Fronts: The British Two-seater Bomber Pilot and Observer Aces, the British Two-seater Fighter Observer Aces, and the Belgian, Italian, Austro-Hungarian and Russian Fighter Aces, 1914-1918: Volume 4 of Fighting Airmen of WWI Series: Volume 4 of Air Aces of WWI, p. 14.
  13. ^ Austro-Hungarian Aces of World War I 1914-1918, p. 54.
  14. ^ List compiled from Air Aces of the Austro-Hungarian Empire 1914-1918 (pp. 268–271); Above the War Fronts: the British Two-seater Bomber Pilot and Observer Aces, the British Two-seater Fighter Observer Aces, and the Belgian, Italian, Austro-Hungarian and Russian fighter Aces, 1914-1918, (pp. 175–176); http://www.theaerodrome.com/aces/austrhun/brumowski.php Retrieved 19 June 2011.