Karl Emil Schäfer

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Emil Schäfer
Karl-Emil Schäfer
Nickname(s) Karlchen
("Charlie")
Born (1891-12-17)17 December 1891
Krefeld, Germany
Died 5 June 1917(1917-06-05) (aged 25)
Becelaere-Zandvoorde, Belgium
Allegiance German Empire
Service/branch Luftstreitkräfte
Years of service 1914–1917
Rank Leutnant
Unit
Commands held Jagdstaffel 28
Battles/wars World War I
 • Eastern Front
 • Western Front
Awards Pour le Mérite
Iron Cross First & Second Class
Knight's Cross with Swords of the Royal House Order of Hohenzollern
Wound Badge

Karl Emil Schäfer (17 December 1891 – 5 June 1917) was a German pilot during World War I; he became one of the major German flying aces of the war, with 30 confirmed aerial victories.[1]

Early life and infantry service[edit]

Schäfer was born in Krefeld and joined the Jäger Regiment zu Pferde Nr. 10 of the Prussian Army for his One-year volunteer military service. An engineering student who spoke fluent French and English, he was a fine draughtsman, and was studying in Paris when the war broke out, but managed to return to Germany and was assigned to the Reserve Jäger Bataillon 7 in Bückeburg. He won the Iron Cross 2nd class and was promoted to Vizefeldwebel during September 1914, before being badly wounded[2] and hospitalised for six months. After returning to the front line he was commissioned in May 1915.

Flying service[edit]

Requesting flying duties Schäfer trained as a pilot and served over the Eastern Front with Kampfgeschwader 2 from July 1916 onwards. He moved to the west and now flew with Kampfstaffel 11 of KG 2, where he gained his first victory. With just this single victory, he impudently telegraphed Manfred von Richthofen, who was assembling a "top gun" (kanone) squadron at Jasta 11, "Can you use me?" Richthofen replied, "You have already been requested."

Schäfer was then posted to Jasta 11 on 21 February 1917. In intensive operations during Bloody April he became a flying ace, being credited with 21 victories and awarded the Pour le Mérite. While a member of Jasta 11, "Karlchen" (Charlie) became known as the squadron's prankster and recorded many vivid incidents in combat and at play.[citation needed] He flew an Albatros D.III with red and black markings.[1] Somehow amidst all this he found time to pen his autobiography, Vom Jaeger zum Flieger ("From Soldier to Pilot").

Command and death in action[edit]

Schäfer was then given command of Jasta 28 on 26 April, and after gaining further victories for a total of 30 claims Schäfer was shot down and killed in action on 5 June 1917 in combat with No. 20 Squadron, by ace crew Lt. Harold Satchell and Lt. Thomas Lewis. Satchell and Lewis' fire did not strike Schäfer, but disabled his plane, which broke apart in midair. They reported that the Albatross fell in flames; German ace witness Max Ritter von Müller reported seeing it break up, but noted no fire. Photos of the wreckage show no scorching and the wings still attached to the aircraft.[3] Nevertheless, his Jasta 28 comrades recovered Schäfer's body, noting that it had no bullet wounds, but that every bone in his body had been broken.[citation needed]

Combat record[edit]

List of aerial victories [4]
No. Date/time Unit Aircraft Foe Location
1 22 January 1917 Kasta 11 Albatros D.II Caudron West of Pont-à-Mousson
2 4 March 1917 @ 1150 Jasta 11 Albatros D.III Sopwith 1½ Strutter (A1109) South-west of Haisnes
u/c 4 March 1917 Jasta 11 D.H.2 or F.E.8 Near Lens
u/c 4 March 1917 Jasta 11 D.H.2 or F.E.8 Near Béthune
3 6 March 1917 @ 1145 Jasta 11 Sopwith 1½ Strutter (A978) Lens
4 6 March 1917 @ 1155 Jasta 11 Sopwith 1½ Strutter Lens
5 9 March 1917 @ 1120 Jasta 11 F.E.8 (6397) Faschoda
6 9 March 1917 @ 1122 Jasta 11 F.E.8 (4874) Pont-à-Vendin
7 11 March 1917 @ 1120 Jasta 11 B.E.2c (6232) Loosbogen
8 24 March 1917 @ 0900 Jasta 11 Sopwith 1½ Strutter Anzin, near Arras
9 3 April 1917 @ 1620 Jasta 11 F.E.2d (6371) South of Lens
10 6 April 1917 @ 1020 Jasta 11 B.E.2 Givenchy
11 6 April 1917 @ 1037 Jasta 11 B.E.2 West of Vimy
12 7 April 1917 @ 1745 Jasta 11 Nieuport 23 Mecatal
13 8 April 1917 @ 1440 Jasta 11 D.H.4 Épinoy
14 9 April 1917 @ 1900 Jasta 11 B.E.2d (5742) Aise Roulette
15 11 April 1917 @ 0910 Jasta 11 Bristol F.2A (A3318) Fampoux
16 11 April 1917 @ 1250 Jasta 11 B.E.2e Arras
17 13 April 1917 @ 1830 Jasta 11 F.E.2b (A6372) Le Point du Jour
18 14 April 1917 @ 1705 Jasta 11 F.E.2b (4877) Lievin-Eleu
19 14 April 1917 @ 1720 Jasta 11 B.E or Bristol F.2a La Coulette
20 21 April 1917 @ 1745 Jasta 11 Nieuport Scout (A6797) East of Fresnes
21 22 April 1917 @ 2020 Jasta 11 F.E.2b North-west of Moncy-Tilloy
22 25 April 1917 @ 1040 Jasta 11 F.E.2b (A837) Bailleul
23 25 April 1917 @ 2030 Jasta 11 Bristol F.2a (A3352) Bahnhoff Roeux
24 1 May 1917 @ 1240 Jasta 28 Farman Dixmude
25 1 May 1917 @ 1300 Jasta 28 Nieuport Scout East of Poperinghe
26 9 May 1917 @ 1900 Jasta 28 Sopwith 1½ Strutter Warneton
27 18 May 1917 @ 1110 Jasta 28 F.E.2d Hollebeke
28 23 May 1917 @ 1615 Jasta 28 F.E.2d Warenton
29 23 May 1917 @ 1845 Jasta 28 Sopwith Pup Wytschaetebogen
30 4 June 1917 @ 1410 Jasta 28 D.H.4 (A7420) Moorslede

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Citations
Bibliography
  • Franks, Norman; Bailey, Frank W. & Guest, Russell F. (1993). Above The Lines: The Aces and Fighter Units of the German Air Service, Naval Air Service, and Flanders Marine Corps, 1914-1918. London, UK: Grub Street. ISBN 978-0-948817-73-1. 
  • Guttman, Jon & Dempsey, Harry (2009). Pusher Aces of World War I. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84603-417-6. 

External links[edit]