||This article needs additional citations for verification. (April 2008)|
13 April 1897|
Krefeld, German Empire
|Died||23 September 1917
North of Frezenberg, West Flanders
|Years of service||1914-1917|
|Unit||KG 4, Jastas 2, 5, 10, 14, 29|
Werner Voss (German: Werner Voß) (April 13, 1897–September 23, 1917) was a World War I German flying ace, a friend and rival of the famous Red Baron, Manfred von Richthofen. A brilliant pilot and aggressive fighter, he was considered by some to be the one pilot who could match von Richthofen. Described as "the bravest German airman" by James McCudden.
Early life 
Born in Krefeld in 1897, Voss was the youngest of three sons and two daughters of an industrial dyer.
Military service 
Voss enlisted in 1914 at the age of 17 in the 2nd Westphalian Hussar Regiment Nr. 11, serving on the Eastern Front. When his regiment was disbanded he transferred to the Luftstreitkräfte (German Air Service) in August 1915, joining FEA7 in Cologne. In September, he was sent to Egelsberg to learn to fly. A gifted pilot, he was immediately enrolled as an instructor at FEA 7 upon graduating in February 1916, before finally departing to the front on 10 March.
Vizefeldwebel Voss was posted to Kampfstaffel 20 of Kampfgeschwader IV, and served as an observer before he was allowed to fly as a pilot, receiving his pilot's badge in May 1916. Commissioned in September, he then transferred to scout aircraft and was posted to Oswald Boelcke's Jasta (Jagdstaffel) 2 in November 1916.
Voss scored his first two victories at the age of 18 on 27 November 1916. Scoring rapidly during February - March 1917, he was awarded the Pour le Merite on 8 April 1917, with his score already 24.
After 28 claims, Voss was sent to command Jasta 5 on 20 May, then briefly posted to Jasta 29 as temporary commander, before a similar posting to Jasta 14 on 3 July. On 30 July, Voss moved to permanent command of Jasta 10 in Richthofen's Jagdgeschwader I (JG I) (or the "Flying Circus" as it became called by the Allies).
Voss had a gift for mechanical engineering, and was an avid rider of motorcycles. Voss also mechanically "tweaked" his aircraft, often being found in the hangar working on his motorcycle or his machine and its guns. Voss was known as a loner and an inspirational, rather than effective, unit leader. Modern writers often describe him as "mercurial". He was a casual dresser, but when flying would wear full uniform, in case of a forced landing.
Voss was wounded on 6 June 1917 during a dogfight with 6 Naval Squadron Royal Naval Air Service, (possibly by Flt Sub-Lt Christopher Draper) but soon returned to duty. He was by now credited with 38 confirmed victories in his Albatros D.III, at the time decorated with a swastika and heart motif (for good luck).
In August, having tested a F.I prototype (103/17, Wk. Nr.1730) of the Fokker Dr.I triplane Voss adopted the rotary engine triplane as his personal aircraft. Voss had flown kites with his cousins in Krefeld and the kites gave him the inspiration to paint the nose of his Fokker Dr.I with two eyes, eyebrows and a moustache.
Voss rapidly claimed 10 more victories between 3 and 23 September to raise his total to 48, second only to the Red Baron.
After shooting down a No. 57 Squadron DH 4 bomber on 23 September, Voss went out on a further patrol and was engaged by six Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5s of the elite 56 Squadron. In one of the most remarkable encounters in aerial history, Voss fought a single-handed dogfight against several aces: Capt. James McCudden, Lt. Richard Maybery Lt. Geoffrey Hilton Bowman, Capt. Reginald Hoidge, Lt. Arthur Rhys Davids. Keith Muspratt and Lt V.P. Cronyn, with Lt. Harold A. Hamersley and Lt. Robert L. Chidlaw-Roberts of 60 Squadron. The dogfight developed over Poelkapelle. Another German ace, Carl Menckhoff, attempted to assist Voss but was downed by Rhys-Davids, (though surviving). Voss fought the RFC aces for just 10 minutes, eluding them and achieving hits on nearly every S.E.5.
Using the triplane's superior rate of climb and its ability to slip turn (using the rudder to turn quickly), Voss managed to evade his opponents. He was able to turn at high speeds and attack those behind him. After flying past McCudden in a head-on confrontation, however, Voss's Fokker was hit with bullets on the starboard side by Hoidge. One round pierced his right side and passed through his lungs. Nearing death, Voss did not see Rhys-Davids approach from the 6 o'clock position, directly behind his tail.
Rhys-Davids got below him and poured two drums of Lewis fire into the underside of the triplane, then attacked again with both guns. The Fokker fell away, stalled and crashed into the British line. McCudden recalled: "I saw him go into a fairly steep dive and so I continued to watch, and then saw the triplane hit the ground and disappear into a thousand fragments, for it seemed to me that it literally went into powder."
Voss crashed near Plum Farm north of Frezenberg in Belgium. Only the rudder, cowling, and parts of the undercarriage were salvaged; the new type of aircraft was the subject of an intelligence report by 2nd Lieutenant G. Barfoot-Saunt.
One of the British pilots he fought that day, then-Captain James McCudden, a recipient of the Victoria Cross and who would become a leading English ace of the war, expressed sincere regret at Voss's death: "His flying was wonderful, his courage magnificent and in my opinion he was the bravest German airman whom it has been my privilege to see fight." Lieutenant Arthur Rhys-Davids, who himself would fall in combat just one month later, had said to McCudden, "If I could only have brought him down alive."
Voss did much damage to B Flight of 56 Squadron; Muspratt force-landed at No. 1 Squadron's aerodrome with a bullet in his radiator. Mayberry's SE5 was hit in the upper right hand longeron and badly damaged, force landing at St Marie Cappel. Hamersley and Chidlaw-Roberts's SE5s were badly damaged, whereas Hamersley's machine was eventually sent to No.1 Air Depot for repair. Cronyn's airplane was also damaged, as related in a letter he wrote to his father:
|“||After Mess I went up to the hangar to have a look at my machine. It was a write-off and no mistake. The right lower longeron had a bullet hole through it, while the left lower was nearly cut in two, either by "Archie" or bullets, but there was only about a quarter of an inch thickness left in one place, while about 18 inches further along three bullets had cut right through. The main spars were shot through, and one of the ribs of the tailplane was fractured, by the only bullet he had got into me while on or nearly on my tail. There were also several other bullet holes in wings and fuselage. Besides these few details, the machine was all OK! It was a miracle he didn't hit me in the engine. As a matter of fact he got one in my prop. I went to bed as soon as I had a good look over the machine, but could hardly sleep a wink. I just lay in bed perspiring, though it was quite a cold night.||”|
|Participant||Nationality||Victories at the time of the engagement||Total Victories|
|Geoffrey Hilton Bowman||English||16||32|
|Harold A. Hamersley||Australian||2||13|
|Robert L. Chidlaw-Roberts||English||5||10|
|Verschoyle P. Cronyn||Canadian||3||4|
Voss's decorations and awards include: the Iron Cross 1st and 2nd Class, the Knights Cross with Swords of the Hohenzollern House Order, the Prussian Pilot Badge, and the Orden Pour le Mérite (the "Blue Max"). With just 1 unconfirmed victory, his final total was 48 confirmed victories.
List of aerial victories of Werner Voss 
Confirmed victories are numbered and listed chronologically. Unconfirmed victories are denoted by "u/c" and may or may not be listed by date.
Doubled horizontal lines mark a change in squadron assignments.
|1||27 November 1916 @ 0940 hours||Albatros||Nieuport 17 serial number A281||Destroyed||Miraumont, France||Loss from No. 60 Squadron Royal Flying Corps|
|2||27 November 1916 @ 1415 hours||Albatros||Either Airco DH.2 s/n 4915 or Royal Aircraft Factory FE.2b s/n 4915||Destroyed||South of Bapaume, France||Royal Aircraft Factory FE.2b lost from No. 18 Squadron RFC|
|3||21 December 1916 @ 1100 hours||Albatros||Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2d s/n 5782||Destroyed||Miraumont, France||Loss from No. 7 Squadron RFC|
|4||1 February 1917 @ 1730 hours||Albatros||Airco D.H.2 s/n A2614||Destroyed||Essarts||Victim was A. F. V. Daly from No. 29 Squadron RFC|
|5||4 February 1917 @ 1540 hours||Albatros||Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2d s/n 5797||Destroyed||Givenchy, France||Loss from No. 16 Squadron RFC|
|6||10 February 1917 @ 1225 hours||Albatros||Airco D.H.2 s/n A2548||Destroyed||Southwest of Serre||Loss from No. 32 Squadron RFC|
|7||25 February 1917 @ 1455 hours||Albatros||Airco D.H.2 s/n A2557||Destroyed||St. Saveur||Loss from No. 29 Squadron RFC|
|8||25 February 1917 @ 1500 hours||Albatros||Airco D.H.2 s/n 7849||Destroyed||Arras, France||Loss from No. 29 Squadron RFC|
|9||26 February 1917 @ 1650 hours||Albatros||Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2c s/n 2535||Destroyed||Écurie, France||Loss from No. 16 Squadron RFC|
|10||27 February 1917 @ 1045 hours||Albatros||Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2e s/n 2530||Destroyed||Blairville, France||Loss from No. 8 Squadron RFC|
|11||27 February 1917 @ 1648 hours||Albatros||Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2c s/n 7197||Destroyed||St. Catherine||Loss from No. 12 Squadron RFC|
|12||4 March 1917 @ 1130 hours||Albatros||Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2d s/n 6252||Destroyed||South of Berneville, France||Loss from No. 8 Squadron RFC|
|13||6 March 1917 @ 1635 hours||Albatros||Airco D.H.2 s/n 7941||Destroyed||Favreuil, France||Loss from No. 32 Squadron RFC|
|14||11 March 1917 @ 1000 hours||Albatros||Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.2b s/n 7685||Destroyed||Combles, France||Loss was from No. 22 Squadron RFC|
|15||11 March 1917 @ 1430 hours||Albatros||Nieuport 17 s/n A279||Destroyed||Bailleul, France||Loss was from No. 60 Squadron RFC|
|16||17 March 1917 @ 1215 hours||Albatros||Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.2b s/n 7695||Destroyed||Northeast of Warlemont||Loss was from No. 11 Squadron RFC|
|17||17 March 1917 @ 1225 hours||Albatros||Airco D.H.2 s/n A2583||Destroyed||Southwest of Bapaume, France||Loss was from No. 32 Squadron RFC|
|18||18 March 1917 @ 1840 hours||Albatros||Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2e s/n 5784||Destroyed||Neuville, France||Loss was from No. 8 Squadron RFC|
|19||18 March 1917 @ 1850 hours||Albatros||Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2d s/n 2755||Destroyed||Boyelles, France||Loss was from No. 4 Squadron RFC|
|20||19 March 1917 @ 0930 hours||Albatros||Royal Aircraft Factory R.E.8 s/n A4165||Destroyed||Saint-Léger, France||Loss was from No. 59 Squadron RFC|
|21||24 March 1917 @ 1610 hours||Albatros||Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.2b s/n A5485||Destroyed||Southeast of Saint-Léger, France||Loss from No. 11 Squadron RFC|
|22||24 March 1917 @ 1645 hours||Albatros||Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2d s/n 5777||Destroyed||Southeast of Mercatel, France||Loss from No. 16 Squadron RFC|
|23||1 April 1917 @ 1145 hours||Albatros||Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2c s/n 2561||Destroyed||East of Saint-Léger, France||Loss from No. 15 Squadron RFC|
|24||6 April 1917 @ 0945 hours||Albatros||Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2c s/n A3157||Destroyed||South of Lagnicourt-Marcel, France||Loss from No. 15 Squadron RFC|
|25||7 May 1917 @ 1925 hours||Albatros||Royal Aircraft Factory SE.5 s/n A4867||Destroyed||Étaing, France||Loss from No. 56 Squadron RFC|
|26||9 May 1917 @ 1400 hours||Albatros||Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2e s/n 7209||Destroyed||Havrincourt, France||Loss from No. 52 Squadron RFC|
|27||9 May 1917 @ 1645 hours||Albatros||Sopwith Pup s/n A6174||Destroyed||Lesdain, France||Loss from No. 54 Squadron RFC|
|28||9 May 1917 @ 1650 hours||Albatros||Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.2b s/n 4991||Destroyed||Le Bosquet||Loss from No. 22 Squadron RFC|
|29||23 May 1917 @ 1425 hours||Albatros||Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.2b s/n A5502||Destroyed||North of Havrincourt||Loss from No. 18 Squadron RFC|
|30||26 May 1917 @ 1545 hours||Albatros||Sopwith Pup s/n A6168||Destroyed||Southwest of Gouzeaucourt, France||Loss from No. 54 Squadron RFC|
|31||28 May 1917 @ 1400 hours||Albatros||Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.2d||Destroyed||Southeast of Douai, France||Loss from No. 25 Squadron RFC|
|32||4 June 1917 @ 0710 hours||Albatros||Sopwith Pup s/n B2151||Destroyed||Aubencheul-aux-Bois, France||Loss from No. 54 Squadron RFC|
|33||5 June 1917 @ 0930 hours||Albatros||Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.2b s/n A857||Destroyed||North of Vaucelles||Loss from No. 22 Squadron RFC|
|34||6 June 1917 @ 1310 hours||Albatros||Nieuport 17 s/n N3204||Destroyed||West of Graincourt-lès-Havrincourt, France||English ace Christopher Draper of No. 6 Squadron RNAS shot down|
|35||10 August 1917 @ 1625 hours||Albatros||Spad XIII||Destroyed||South of Diksmuide, Belgium||Loss from Escadrille 31 of Aéronautique Militaire|
|36||15 August 1917 @ 1910 hours||Albatros||Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.2b||Destroyed||Zillebeke Lake||Loss from No. 20 Squadron RFC|
|37||16 August 1917 @ 2100 hours||Albatros||Sopwith Camel s/n B3756||Destroyed||St. Julien||English ace Noel Webb from No. 70 Squadron RFC killed in action|
|38||23 August 1917 @ 1010 hours||Albatros||Spad VII s/n B3528||Destroyed||Southwest of Diksmuide, Belgium|
|39||3 September 1917 @ 0952 hours||Fokker Triplane||Sopwith Camel s/n 3917||Destroyed||North of Houthem||Loss from No. 45 Squadron RFC|
|40*||5 September 1917 @ 1450 hours||Fokker Triplane||Sopwith Pup s/n B1842||Destroyed||St. Julien||English ace Charles Walter Odell shot down|
|40*||5 September 1917 @ 1550 hours||Fokker Triplane||Airco DH.5 s/n A9374||Destroyed||St. Julien||Loss from No. 32 Squadron RFC|
|41||5 September 1917 @ 1630 hours||Fokker Triplane||French Caudron two-seater||Destroyed||Bixschoote|
|42||6 September 1917 @ 1635 hours||Fokker Triplane||Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.2d s/n B1895||Destroyed||Southeast of Boesinghe||Loss from No. 20 Squadron RFC|
|43||10 September 1917 @ 1750 hours||Fokker Triplane||Sopwith Camel s/n B3927||Destroyed||Langemarck||Loss from No. 70 Squadron RFC|
|44||10 September 1917 @ 1755 hours||Fokker Triplane||Sopwith Camel s/n B3787||Destroyed||Southwest of Poelkapelle||2nd Lt O.C. Pearson from No. 70 Squadron RFC|
|45||10 September 1917 @ 1815 hours||Fokker Triplane||French SPAD||Destroyed||Vicinity of Langemarck||Loss from Escadrille 37 of Aéronautique Militaire|
|46||11 September 1917 @ 1030 hours||Fokker Triplane||Either Sopwith Camel s/n B3775 or Bristol F.2 Fighter s/n B1105||Destroyed||Langemarck||Bristol F.2 Fighter lost from No. 22 Squadron RFC|
|47||11 September 1917 @ 1625 hours||Fokker Triplane||Sopwith Camel B6236||Destroyed||East of St. Julien||English ace Oscar Lennox McMaking of No. 45 Squadron RFC killed in action|
|48||23 September 1917 @ 0930 hours||Fokker Triplane||Airco D.H.4 s/n A7643||Destroyed||South of Roeselare, Belgium||Loss from No. 57 Squadron RFC<|
Conflicting claims denoted by *, although only one of them counts as a confirmed victory according to either source.
In popular culture 
- In the 1971 Von Richthofen and Brown, Werner Voss is portrayed by Stephen McHattie
- In the 2008 biopic The Red Baron (film), Werner Voss is portrayed by actor Til Schweiger.
- Shores 1983, p. 14.
- O'Connor 2001, p. 162.
- Shores 1983, p. 17.
- Clark 1999, p. 137.
- Franks et al. 1992, p. 224.
- "Werner Voss." The Aerodrome, 2012. Retrieved: 18 June 2012.
- "Arthur Rhys Davids." The Aerodrome, 2012. Retrieved: 18 June 2012.
- "The Last Dogfight." web.archive.org, 2012. Retrieved: 18 June 2012.
- Hubbers, Reinout. "De vliegende huzaar" (in German). historien, 3 September 2007. Retrieved: 18 June 2012.
- Franks et al. 1992, pp. 224–225.
- Clark, Alan. Aces High: War in the Air Over the Western Front, 1914-18 (Cassell Military Classics). London: W&H Publishing, 1999. ISBN 978-0-3043-5225-8.
- Diggens, Barry. September Evening: The Life and Final Combat of the German Ace Werner Voss. London: Grub Street, 2003. ISBN 1-904010-47-4.
- Franks, Norman, Frank W. Bailey and Russell Guest. Over the Front: A Complete Record of the Fighter Aces and Units of the United States and French Air Services, 1914–1918. London: Grub Street, 1992. ISBN 978-0-948817-54-0.
- O'Connor, Mike. Airfields & Airmen: Ypres. Barnsley, South Yorkshire, UK: Pen & Sword Books, 2001. ISBN 0-85052-753-8.
- Shores, Christopher. Air Aces. Greenwich, Connecticut: Bison Books, 1983. ISBN 978-0-8914-1166-6.
- Dogfights - The First Dogfighters
- 48 Kills: Werner Voss
- Bio and Photographs at pourlemerite.org
- Voss plane profiles
- Captain George A. Parker shot down by Voss 27 November 1916