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Climbing Higher - new WW1 aviation blog


J5_Hotlead

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Hello everyone! 

As you all know, WW1 aviation has long fascinated me. I believe the story of WW1 (and even more specifically, WW1 aviators) tends to be overshadowed by WW2 and doesn't get as much press as it deserves. I also enjoy reading/writing and now that I no longer have to write college papers (woo hoo! 😁), I occasionally get the itch to research something and write about it.

That being the case, I present to you, "Climbing Higher" - my personal blog on all things WW1 aviation! Every so often, when I have the inclination and free time, I'll be posting articles about WW1 aviation to my personal blog (linked below):

https://rookieace.wixsite.com/climbinghigher

My first post is a book review of a rarer WW1 aviation memoir: "A German Airman Remembers" by Hans Schröder. To see my thoughts on this unique read, just click on the link below!

https://rookieace.wixsite.com/climbinghigher/post/a-german-airman-remembers-book-review

Subsequent posts:

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Looking forward to this Cole! (since it's a scholarly effort, I thought it appropriate to address you by your given name).

BTW... we used to do this in grad school... I had no idea that is was such an old tradition...

Then when the victim bent his head back to receive the coin, all the conspirators poured the contents of beer and wine bottles into the funnel."

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  • 4 weeks later...

Evening, guys! In my latest blog post, I explore why most pilots during WW1 flew without the luxury of a parachute. To read more, just click on the link below:

https://rookieace.wixsite.com/climbinghigher/post/do-or-die-no-parachute-high-in-the-sky 

 

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  • 1 month later...

Good afternoon, everyone! In today's blog post, I take a look at 1CGS's announcement of Flying Circus Vol. II and discuss what I think this means for the series going forward:

https://rookieace.wixsite.com/climbinghigher/post/flying-circus-vol-ii-is-coming

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Good afternoon! Today, I finally had some time to finish off a book review on James Hamilton-Paterson's "Marked for Death: The First War in the Air." A truly fascinating look at the RFC/RAF in World War One! 

https://climbinghigher.wixsite.com/climbinghigher/post/marked-for-death-book-review

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S! Guys!
Well done Herr @HotleadColdfeet!!!

Quote

"After a cup of hot tea and a biscuit, four of us left the ground shortly after five. The sun in the early mornings, shining such direct rays from the east, makes it practically impossible to see in that direction, so that these dawn adventures were not much of a pleasure. It meant that danger from surprise attack was very great, for the Huns coming from the east with the sun at their back could see us when we couldn't see them. In any case one doesn't feel one's best at dawn, especially when one has had only four hours' sleep."

 

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  • 7 months later...

Well...my article on WW1 damage modeling is finally done! You might want to pour yourself a glass of your favorite beverage while you read — it's a long one! 😅 Hopefully this helps by establishing a historical precedent as FC's damage model faces review soon. I know it certainly was eye-opening for me as I researched these past few months!

https://climbinghigher.wixsite.com/climbinghigher/post/pick-your-poison-an-exploration-of-how-ww1-aircraft-were-most-often-destroyed-in-combat

Thank you to @Dudley, @DeFreest Larner, and @93rd Aero, R.Talbot for compiling and submitting data to help me with this report! I sincerely appreciate it. 😊

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Very nicely done!  I enjoyed reading it.

Overall, I think your conclusions are solid.  And you do mention survivor bias, which is essential to factor into any combat report.

Some helpful thoughts:

You have very few primary German or French sources in your article, relying primarily on the USAS sources provided by the 3PG.  While you do include Guynemer and Richthofen, both are edited and translated accounts into English.  And both of these men are super aces, who (as you rightly mention) have vainglorious reputations amongst historians and armchair historians alike.  Since both died in the war, it's hard to determine what they thought of their real battle experiences, once removed from the necessity of propaganda and esprit de corps.  It would be great if someone could help you locate accounts from average German and French pilots within the Bundesarchiv (German Federal Archives) or the various French military archives.  I think this information would strengthen your argument immeasurably.

One of the other problems that I think exists with this topic is that you're forced to generalize to get usable data.  One of these areas is the structural weakness of the aircraft.  The section on the B.E.2d is excellent because you show that the plane could have structural problems and then show how an expert sharpshooter can aim for those areas of weakness to cause failure.  It would be good if you had more of that, as I think the more specific you get, the more useable data you'll find.

Another area of generalization that's hard to overcome is the discussion of aircraft fires.

For example, most of the aircraft Manfred von Richthofen burned were in the mid to later part of his career, victories 49 and above.  They are:

  • 2x SPAD VII
  • 1x FE2d
  • 1x Sopwith Triplane
  • 2x S.E.5a
  • 4x Sopwith Camel
  • 4x R.E.8
  • 1x Sopwith Dolphin
  • 2x AWFK8.

Why were these aircraft more susceptible to burning than the earlier aircraft he shot down?

Is it because Richthofen started reporting his victories differently?  Could it be a translation error or a translator's confusion regarding a slang German term?  Is it because Richthofen was a better shot at this point in his career and knew where to hit the enemy to get them to fire?  Is it because they were tractor configured aircraft, not pushers?  Was it the phasing out of the Schwarzlose machine guns in favor of the LMG 08/15?  Similarly, was there a munition change to those MGs?  Was there a design issue with these specific British types that caused them to burn?

To overcome this, if you ever wanted to expand on your article, you may need to concentrate on one specific period and eliminate all of the super aces from your data pool, concentrating only on regular pilots and regular aces (5 kills and above).  You might even need to focus on specific aircraft types.  Or even particular services.

I would concentrate on Summer and Fall 1918, as this is the most modern period regarding the air war.  And it should have the most surviving data.  Plus, you could then include the post-war evaluation data regarding the German aircraft, like the Fokker D.VII.

 

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Thanks for the detailed feedback! It is true the French and German primary sources have been hard to come by for me. I think a primary barrier to that is that I don't know how to read German or French much or how to navigate the Bundesarchiv. However, in the future, when I have more time, I could try to figure it out and see if I could locate any reports and decipher them with the help of Google translate. This is why I've primarily relied on the reports I went through with No. 46 squadron and the USAS reports from 3PG. However, I do feel that the English language sources I have for Guynemer and the five German Aces are more reliable than not, especially because most of the results I took from them were from combat report excerpts, personal letters, or cases where the historians confirmed the victims that were brought down. Still, I do agree that if I were able to read French and German and had access to Escadrilles' and Jastas' combat reports, this would have been my first choice. Always something I could tackle at a later date! 🙂

I also agree about the being forced to generalize. Going into writing this article, I decided that since I would be looking at the probabilities of combat damage as a whole in FC, I might as well look at the historical accounts as a whole. The weakness there is that you cannot fine-tune specific details for each aircraft — each of which deserves to have its own article written. However, since the developers have been seeming to question whether the wing shedding is wrong on the whole, I decided to deal with the issue as a whole. 

Really, this is just the start of going down the rabbit hole. Right now, I'm mentally wiped out from doing all the reading, categorizing, and writing, but in the future, I think everything you suggested are fantastic topics to dive deeper into! 

 

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3 minutes ago, Klaiber said:

PS: I did like it!  A lot!

Please don't view my observations as anything other than constructive. :)

 

Lol! I didn't view your response as being anything other than constructive; in fact, I sincerely appreciated it. 😊 I view this as a fascinating discussion that I certainly have much to learn from always.

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  • 1 year later...

It's been some time since my last blog post, but today I finally finished work on a book review of "Sagittarius Rising". To anyone who hasn't yet read this literary masterwork (probably in the minority here lol), hopefully this review convinces you why you need to add this one to your bookshelf: https://climbinghigher.wixsite.com/climbinghigher/post/sagittarius-rising-book-review 

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On 9/15/2023 at 11:14 AM, J5_Hotlead said:

It's been some time since my last blog post, but today I finally finished work on a book review of "Sagittarius Rising". To anyone who hasn't yet read this literary masterwork (probably in the minority here lol), hopefully this review convinces you why you need to add this one to your bookshelf: https://climbinghigher.wixsite.com/climbinghigher/post/sagittarius-rising-book-review 

I was just telling a friend about this book the other day!  (I was reminded of it because she also has Sagittarius rising in her horoscope.)  And that was a nice review; I'd forgotten about the guy always tinkering with his machine, clearly the inspiration behind the David Wood character in the film Aces High, who rigs up an intricate contraption for dropping grenades and proclaims 'Confidence in Mechanical Detail' to be the highest virtue!

I actually met the author once, at a college dinner in Oxford in 1993.  He was of course 95 years old at the time, and a guest of someone else much more important than I was, so I didn't get much chance to talk to him, but it was great just to be in his presence.

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On 9/18/2023 at 2:45 PM, Maushake said:

I was just telling a friend about this book the other day!  (I was reminded of it because she also has Sagittarius rising in her horoscope.)  And that was a nice review; I'd forgotten about the guy always tinkering with his machine, clearly the inspiration behind the David Wood character in the film Aces High, who rigs up an intricate contraption for dropping grenades and proclaims 'Confidence in Mechanical Detail' to be the highest virtue!

I actually met the author once, at a college dinner in Oxford in 1993.  He was of course 95 years old at the time, and a guest of someone else much more important than I was, so I didn't get much chance to talk to him, but it was great just to be in his presence.

That is so cool you actually met him! And I haven't seen Aces High yet... probably need to do that at some point! I can definitely see where "Bodie" was the inspiration for that character. 😄

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The star of Aces High, Malcolm McDowell, has been here in town the last few summers filming a TV series which I've been trying (so far without success) to get a role on!  I've been hoping to get the chance to meet him and be (probably) the first fan to mention that deep cut from his oeuvre, something other than A Clockwork Orange, If ..., or even Caligula 😆

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  • 6 months later...
3 hours ago, J5_Hotlead said:

Hey guys! I just finished my latest book review this morning. This time around, we're exploring Johan Ryheul's KEKs and Fokkerstaffels. I loved the early-war focus and how he organized the chapters! https://climbinghigher.wixsite.com/climbinghigher/post/keks-and-fokkerstaffels-book-review

Can't wait to read it!

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