Franz Gräser

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Franz Gräser
Gräser Ferenc.jpg
Born 26 October 1892
Nyírmada, Hungary
Died 17 May 1918 (1918-05-18) (aged 25)
Allegiance Austro-Hungarian Empire
Service/branch Aviation
Rank Leutnant
Unit Flik 2, Flik 32, Flik 42J, Flik 61J
Awards Order of the Iron Crown, Order of Leopold, Silver Medal for Bravery

Leutnant Franz Gräser was a World War I flying ace credited with 18 aerial victories.

Gräser was a technical university student in Budapest until World War I broke out. In October 1914, he enlisted in Infanterieregiment No. 72, graduated reserve officer school in mid-July 1915, and began World War I as the commander of a machine gun unit on the Russian Front.[1] After being wounded, he transferred to K.u.K, the Austro-Hungarian air service. He was commissioned as an officer and assigned to observer duties in the rear seat of a reconnaissance aircraft in Flik 2. His skill with machine guns helped him to his first two victories, from the rear seat,[2] on 10 February and 20 May 1917.[3]

Like many observers, Gräser made the transition to becoming a pilot. Unlike just about anyone else, he did so without formal training. The feldwebel pilot who coached him thought he was a natural, but he never received any official training. Without ever being licensed as a pilot, Gräser began flying an Albatros D.III fighter for Flik 42J[4] beginning in September 1917.[5] His personal insignia of an owl on his plane was based in Baltic culture; an owl was considered a sign of death.[6] By the end of 1917, his score stood at 11, with number 11 being claimed on 5 December 1917.[7]

He resumed his victory roll on 26 January 1918 with Flik 61J. By the 23rd of March, he had run his total of wins up to 18 confirmed and one unconfirmed.[8] Most of his victories were over Italian pilots,[9] and his range of victims was wide; seaplanes, fighters, recon two-seaters, and balloons all fell before his guns.[10]

On 17 May 1918,[11] Gräser flew an escort mission, and was shot down in flames by several Italian aces, including Francesco Baracca, Antonio Chiri, Cesare Magistrini, and Gastone Novelli.[12][13]

Sources of information[edit]

  1. ^ Austro-Hungarian Aces of World War 1. p. 67. 
  2. ^ Retrieved 23 December 2009.
  3. ^ Retrieved on 5 April 2010.
  4. ^ Retrieved on 23 December 2009.
  5. ^ Austro-Hungarian Aces of World War 1. p. 68. 
  6. ^ Retrieved 23 December 2009.
  7. ^ Retrieved on 23 December 2009.
  8. ^ Retrieved on 23 December 2009.
  9. ^ Retrieved 23 December 2009.
  10. ^ Retrieved on 23 December 2009.
  11. ^ Retrieved on 23 December 2009.
  12. ^ Retrieved 23 December 2009.
  13. ^ SPAD XII/XIII aces of World War I. p. 25. 

See also[edit]

List of World War I flying aces from Hungary