Ernst Strohschneider

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Ernst Strohschneider
Born 6 September 1886
Aussig an der Elbe, Austria-Hungary
Died 21 March 1918
Motta di Livenza, Italy
Allegiance Austro-Hungarian Empire
Service/branch Aviation
Years of service 1913–1918
Rank Oberleutnant
Unit 24th Infantry Regiment, 42nd Infantry Regiment, Fliegerkompanie 23, Fliegerkompanie 28, Flugegeschwader I, Fliegerkompanie 42J,
Commands held Fliegerkompanie 42J (temporarily), Fliegerkompanie 61J, Fliegerkompanie 62J (de facto)
Awards Knight's Cross of the Order of Leopold with War Decoration and Swords; Order of the Iron Crown, Third Class, with War Decoration and Swords; Silver Military Merit Medal with Swords; Military Merit Medal Third Class

Oberleutnant Ernst Strohschneider was an Austro-Hungarian flying ace during World War I. He was credited with 15 confirmed aerial victories during his rise to the simultaneous command of two fighter squadrons. He died in a flying accident on 21 March 1918.

Early life[edit]

Ernst Strohschneider was born on 6 September 1886 in Aussig an der Elbe (present day Ústí nad Labem), Czech Republic. He was of Sudeten German parentage, and his family was well-to-do. When old enough, he joined the infantry and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the reserves in January 1913. He was serving with the 28th Infantry Regiment on the Serbian front when World War I began.[1][2]

World War I[edit]

Strohschneider was wounded by a bullet in the tibia early in the war, on 28 August 1914. After hospitalization, he was posted to a Guards unit, the 42nd Infantry Regiment on the Russian Front. He went into bitter winter battle at the Chryszcata Heights in the Carpathian Mountains and suffered a knee wound on 9 February 1915. He returned from hospital after this injury to command a machine gun section. On 19 September 1915, he was wounded for the third time, and captured by the Russians. He escaped to friendly lines. After convalescense, he was then invalided from the army as unfit for further service.[3][4]

He joined the Luftfahrtruppen and was trained as an aerial observer at the Officer's Flight School at Wiener-Neustadt by March 1916. He was posted to Heinrich Kostrba's Flik 23 in the South Tyrol, where his first win went unconfirmed. More notable were his long and hazardous reconnaissance flights deep into enemy territory and his bombing missions flown through heavy antiaircraft fire.[5]

Once transferred to Flik 28 along the Isonzo, he soon trained as a pilot, returning to Wiener-Nieustadt. While attending school there, he taught student observers while also undergoing flight training. He qualified as a pilot on 30 December 1916, and received Austrian Pilot Certificate No. 596 on 30 January 1917. The new pilot was posted to Flugegeschwader I on the Isonzo line. Here he and Julius Arigi flew as fighter escort to the unit's bombers[6] and Strohschneider scored his first two victories despite a certain lack of finesse at the controls, as on 17 April 1917, he wrecked Hansa-Brandenburg D.I serial number 28.08.[7] However, this assignment saw him awarded the Silver Military Merit Medal with Swords, as well as the Military Merit Medal Third Class.[8]

Strohschneider was then transferred from his general purpose assignment to a fighter squadron at Prosecco when he was appointed second-in-command of Flik 42J. He would score nine victories during his tenure with this squadron. He would also befriend Reserve Leutnant Franz Gräser, with whom he ultimately shared seven victories. However, in an incident that demonstrated Strohschneider's belief in the rigid Austro-Hungarian class structure, he was the squadron's sole officer who did not congratulate an enlisted fellow ace on a medal awarded in October 1917. The incident did not harm Strohschneider's professional reputation; on 29 October he was commended by his superiors for his exemplary temporary command of his squadron.[9]

He was then posted to command of a fighter unit, Flik 61J on 28 December 1917, the first reserve lieutenant to do so. He was joined by his friend, Franz Gräser, at Flik 61J's field at Motta di Livenza.[10] Strohschneider also found himself simultaneously commanding a second fighter squadron while its commander Karl Nikitsch was ill. Under Strohschneider's leadership, Flik 61J undertook a wide variety of missions. It flew fighter interceptions, fighter escort missions, strafed trenches and artillery batteries, and attacked enemy airfields and naval ships. They also flew night sorties.[11] Strohschneider was awarded the Order of the Iron Crown, Third Class, with War Decoration and Swords for his feats.[12]

On the night of 20 March 1918, Ernst Strohschneider took off in Phonix D.I s/n 228.36 to accompany a five plane night mission against an Italian position at Zenson di Piave. His return in the early morning hours of 21 March ended in a fatal crash. He was posthumously honored with the Knight's Cross of the Order of Leopold with War Decoration and Swords.[13]

List of aerial victories[edit]

Credited victories are numbered. Others are marked "u/c" for "unconfirmed".

No. Date/time Aircraft Foe Result Location Notes
u/c 15 June 1916 @ 0730 hours Lloyd C.III serial number 43.61 Italian seaplane Cima Alta Pilot: Oberleutnant Franz Schorn
1 3 June 1917 @ 1030 hours Hansa-Brandenburg D.I Farman two-seater reconnaissance plane Holed gas tank Monte Korada Confirmed by both air and ground observers
2 21 June 1917 Hansa-Brandenburg D.I. Farman two-seater Cormons, Italy
3 23 September 1917 Unknown French Spad fighter Set on fire Nova Vas, Croatia, near Kostanjevica Victory shared with Ferdinand Udvardy. Confirmed by both air and ground observers
4 23 September 1917 Unknown Savoia Pomilio two-seater Crashed Kostanjevica, Croatia Victory shared with Ferdinand Udvardy. Confirmed by both air and ground observers
5 26 September 1917 Unknown Spad fighter Ronchi, Italy Victory shared with Ferdinand Udvardy, Karl Teichmann, and Vincenz Magerl
6 3 October 1917 Probably an Albatros D.III fighter French Spad two-seater Pilot F. Di Rudini KIA Gradisca d'Isonzo, Italy Confirmed by both air and ground observers.
7 25 October 1917 Probably an Albatros D.III Italian seaplane Set on fire Grado, Friuli–Venezia Giulia, Italy Victory shared with Franz Gräser
8 26 October 1917 Probably an Albatros D.III Italian seaplane Grado, Friuli–Venezia Giulia, Italy
9 27 October 1917 Probably an Albatros D.III Italian seaplane Set afire Victory shared with Franz Gräser
10 15 November 1917 Probably an Albatros D.III Sopwith Meolo Monastier di Treviso Victory shared with Franz Gräser
11 29 November 1917 Probably an Albatros D.III S.A.M.L. 2 seater Forced to land; Italian aircrew captured Casa Tagli Victory shared with Franz Gräser, Karl Patzelt
12 26 January 1918 @ 1810 hours Albatros D.III fighter seaplane "swamp area" of Lagune Palude Maggiore Victory shared with Franz Gräser
13 30 January 1918 Albatros D.III fighter serial number 153.119 Sopwith two-seater Cana Reggio Victory shared with Franz Gräser. Strohschneider WIA
14 24 February 1918 Albatros D.III 153.119 Macchi M.5 flying boat marked "M-18" Crashed with pilot WIA Marcello Victory shared with Franz Gräser and two other pilots
15 16 March 1918 Albatros D.III 153.119 Italian Ansaldo S.V.A. Crashed into a somersaulting wreck Casonetti, near Porto di Piave Vecchia Victory shared with Franz Gräser[14]

See also[edit]

Aerial victory standards of World War I

References[edit]

  • Chant, Christopher. Austro-Hungarian Aces of World War 1: Osprey Aircraft of the Aces. Osprey Publishing, 2002. ISBN 1-84176-376-4, ISBN 978-1-84176-376-7.
  • Franks, Norman; Guest, Russel; Alegi, Gregory. 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. Grub Street, 1997 ISBN 1-898697-56-6, ISBN 978-1-898697-56-5.
  • O'Connor, Dr. Martin. Air Aces of the Austro-Hungarian Empire 1914 - 1918. Flying Machines Press, 1994. ISBN 0-9637110-1-6, ISBN 978-0-9637110-1-4.

Endnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Franks, et al, p. 200.
  2. ^ O'Connor, p. 59.
  3. ^ Franks, et al, p. 200.
  4. ^ O'Connor, p. 59.
  5. ^ O'Connor, p. 59.
  6. ^ O'Connor, pp. 22, 60.
  7. ^ O'Connor, p. 59, 60.
  8. ^ Franks, et al, p. 200.
  9. ^ O'Connor, p. 60.
  10. ^ Chant, p. 73.
  11. ^ O'Connor, p. 60.
  12. ^ Franks, et al, p. 200.
  13. ^ Franks, et al, p. 200.
  14. ^ List compiled from http://www.theaerodrome.com/aces/austrhun/strohschneider.php Retrieved 30 May 2011; O'Connor's Air Aces of the Austro-Hungarian Empire 1914-1918, pp. 60, 289–290; Franks, et al, 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, pp. 200–201; and Chant's Austro-Hungarian Aces of World War I 1914-1918, p. 73