Kurt Gruber (aviator)

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Kurt Gruber
Kurt Gruber 1896-1918 met medailles.jpg
Born 1896
Linz, Austria
Died 4 April 1918
Allegiance Austro-Hungarian Empire
Service/branch Aviation
Rank Offiziersstellvertreter
Unit Flik 1, Flik 41J, Flik 60J
Awards Two Silver Bravery Awards, four Gold Bravery Medals[1]

Kurt Gruber (1896 – 4 April 1918) was an Austro-Hungarian flying ace during the First World War who held the rank of Offiziersstellvertreter. He was credited with eleven aerial victories, 5 shared with other pilots.[2]

Gruber was a technical student studying engineering in Sachsen-Altenburg, Germany when World War I began. He was conscripted into the Austro-Hungarian army. He volunteered to transfer to aviation. He was accepted for pilot's training because of his engineering background. By August 1915 he was assigned to Flik 1 under Hpt. Otto Jindra. He began to build the reputation of being the pilot of choice for the observers of the group. In September he was promoted to Zugsführer (lance sergeant). In January 1916 he received his first Silver Bravery Award.[3]

Gruber scored his first aerial victories on 14 April, 2 May, and 6 June 1916, with Godwin Brumowski manning the observer's guns in the Albatros B.I on the 2nd. On 1 June Gruber was promoted well ahead of cycle to Feldwebel (sergeant). Ten weeks later he was promoted to Stabsfeldwebel (sergeant major). In December 1916 Gruber was assigned a five-month test pilot stint at the Flieger Arsenal. In mid-May 1917 he was assigned to Austria-Hungary's first true fighter squadron, Flik 41J. On 21 May 1917 he spun in from low altitude, destroying his Hansa-Brandenburg D.I and suffering injuries that kept him non-operational until September.[4] He scored his fourth victory on 29 September. He became both an ace and a balloon buster on 3 October 1917 when he destroyed an Italian observation balloon.[5]

Gruber was transferred to Flik 60J on 23 December 1917, under Frank Linke-Crawford. The squadron was equipped, with the Phönix D.I.[6] Between 10 January and 4 April 1918, Gruber scored six more kills.[7] Gruber was shot down and killed on 4 April 1918 in combat with Sopwith Camels of No 66 Squadron, moments after his final claim.[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Austro-Hungarian Aces of World War 1. pp. 76–78. 
  2. ^ 'Above the War front' Franks, Guest and Alegi, p. 181
  3. ^ Austro-Hungarian Aces of World War 1. p. 76. 
  4. ^ Austro-Hungarian Aces of World War 1. pp. 76–77. 
  5. ^ http://www.theaerodrome.com/aces/austrhun/gruber.php Retrieved 5 April 2010
  6. ^ Austro-Hungarian Aces of World War 1. pp. 77–78. 
  7. ^ http://www.theaerodrome.com/aces/austrhun/gruber.php Retrieved 5 April 2010
  8. ^ Austro-Hungarian Aces of World War 1. p. 78.