Friday, August 24, 2007

WWI dog fight!


I am lucky to live in a country that has a very rich and long history. It is so long in fact, that much of it has passed into myth and legend such as the tales of King Arthur. Despite this heritage, many people in the UK don't appreciate our heritage today and that makes me sad. History teaches us not to make the same mistakes twice, it gives us a link to the past and to our ancestors. It links us to the land that we call home. That is why I love events like the Festival of History that I went to recently. This is a massive multi-period event with live action re-enactments of battles, trading stalls, living history villages showing traditional skills and ways of living and lots of other events. One of the most impressive sights was a recreation of a World War I dog fight.


The group responsible for this are called 'The Great War Display Team' and they were incredible to watch. On the day that I was there they staged a WWI dog fight with nine planes taking part. I had my camera with me so I did my best to take photo's as they flew past and I have also done my best to identify the planes. The photo above is of a British RAF SE5 bi-plane showing the emblem of the Royal Flying Corps which later merged with the Royal Naval Air Service to become the RAF. The plane in the photo below is of a German Junker CL1 which was introduced right at the end of the Great War. It had two cockpits, the rear one being for a gunner, which was a dummy for this display.

It was an incredible sight to watch these planes perform and they all flew under 1000 ft so that the crowd could easily watch them as they turned, dived and performed their aerobatic display. Two things struck me. The first was that these planes are so slow compared to modern planes. Engineering has come a long way. The second was how maneuverable they were with some of the planes seeming to turn on a wing tip. I loved the heavy thrum of the engines too, so unlike the loud wall of noise that hits your ears with modern jets.

The aircraft danced in the air while a very amusing commentary played out for the spectators. It took the form of an interview with some British pilots who were reliving memories of dog fights with flying aces such as the famous Baron Von Richthofen also known as the 'Red Baron'. British flying ace Albert Ball battled with the Red Baron and when he died in combat he had 44 victories. The plane in the photo below is a Sopwith tri-plane which was flown by the British.


The plane in the photo below is a Nieuport 17 which was a French aircraft. This is the type of plane that would have been flown by the 'Lafayette Escadrille' as shown by the Squadron insignia (The Indian Brave) on the side of the plane and was largely composed of American volunteer pilots. They were recently the subject of a really good film simply called 'Flyboys' which is well worth a watch. (If you look closely you will see the pilot waving to the crowd!)

At the start of the Great War, aeroplanes were used for reconnaissance flights only to observe the movements of the enemy. Soon the pilots saw the merit in being armed and started to carry rifles, revolvers and other weapons so that they could attack enemy aircraft and troops on the ground. Later, larger guns were mounted on the planes themselves and this signified the birth of air fighting which is the WWI equivalent to the medieval duel. Often flying Aces would duel in the skies with each other and would often know each other by reputation.

This last photo was taken at the end of the display when the planes that had been 'hit' released smoke canisters. The top plane in the photo is of a Fokker dr1.

The display was an incredible sight and the whole crowd were stood with their heads tilted to the skies to watch those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines. I have more photos from the Festival and will post about a Viking v Norman battle soon.

23 comments:

kenju said...

Great photos, Bob-kat! and I agree with you about history. We have to study where we've been in order to know where we are going.

Michele sent me this morning.

November Rain said...

I wonder if they were the same who came to a show in the US when my son was a boy


He so loves planes and got to sit in the cockpit of one


history always fascinates me


Here via Michelle :)

Anne said...

wonderful photos! I love those old planes. Sorry to say I hated history, no teacher ever made it exciting for me. Michele sent me.

craziequeen said...

That sounds wonderful.....
I still remember the day our traffic jam was strafed by historic planes :-)

Apparently, they saw the stationary traffic from the airfield and scrambled the aircraft, including the Crunchie plane.

[sneeze] cq not well this weekend :-((

Michele sent me to see you before I start dinner.....

cq

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

These are fantastic pictures Bob-Kat, and give one such a feeling of the 'time', and even the 'place'....I have always admired the early flyers and their courage and daring...And extreme bravery....
I got kind of scared when I saw the picture with the smoke coming out of the planes...it looked so real...What a fantastic display B-K, I thank you for sharing this---it was magnificent. And it must have been stunning to be THERE!
Great Great pictures, my dear...!

Shephard said...

Oh, great photos. I know my B would love to see something like this. He loves all the designs! What fun!
Michele sent me today!
~S :)

The Mistress of the Dark said...

Wonderful photos. Those old planes are fascinating.

Michele Sent Me :)

Melody said...

What a great festival BK and what gret photos!! (again!!) My dad would have loved to see that display (along with I) as he is an avid WWI reader... I look forward to your next post. Cool!

Niall said...

It is amazing how slow they fly...did you know that even in WW2 the Fairey Swordfish was used to launch torpedos at the Bismark?..when all is said and done..they're incredibly stable aircraft.

you continually surprise me BK..your interests are so varied!

BreadBox said...

Bob-kat, that is a fascinating post, with some stunning pictures! Thanks so much for posting it!
On the subject of history, I think that I may feel a post on "1066 and all that" coming on sometime in the next few days!

Michele sent me, though you are bookmarked so I can get back anyway!

N.

Dara said...

Amazing photos. Thanks for stopping by today and your kind comments.

PI said...

I'd love to have seen this. I remember making lavender bags, as a child, to sell them to raise money for the Spitfire fund. I might have paid for a screw.

November Rain said...

hi Bob-kat just wanted to thxs for stopping by my blog

mar said...

Since I am from the "new world" I am particularly fond of places with a long cultural heritage!
What a wonderful event to visit here! you did a wonderful job taking pics of the old planes (did your neck hurt afterwards??)

Ramona said...

Bob-kat, thank you for stopping by! I realize that my blog has been quite dry lately, but I did update today.
How is your mom doing? I truly hope that she is feelng better and that they have got her medical issues sorted out.
As always, your photos are marvelous! You really know how to capture the feelings of the places and events that you attend.
I'm interested in hearing more about the Open University you attended for your Masters. Its something that I am kicking around in my head lately.
Hope all is well. A big kitty-kiss to Bob!

diyadear said...

hey a very interesting post B-K.. sounds like it was fun.. yeah its great to look back into history.. it always seems so fascinating!!

Nikki-ann said...

Brilliant photos of the planes! :D It looks like it was a great display. I'm a bit of a fan of history.

Sarch said...

Ok Ok Ok...so cool! BK if I wasn't allready happily married I'd get on the first plane to the UK and take you to dinner!

Thank you for a wonderful post.

MissMelis said...

Wow, great photos. I love history, too.

David said...

I always love the summer air shows, memories of my dad and I always come up.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

TOO cool, Bob-kat! I just finished reading a historical fiction about Harold Godwine, and now you've got me into WWI flying stuff! Must go find books!

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Thank you Bob-Kat for your lovely words...I DO take it seriously for the very reasons you stated...And I know other people who do, too....So at least I can say that we take the process seriously and struggle to make the choices that seem best...It is very very dufficult sometimes....This Category was not easy....but, you do the best you can and that's all one can do.

I still cannot get over your wonderful pictures of this WW 1 Airshow....You know two of my siblings learned to fly and I went up in little planes with my brother. My sister belonged to something called "THE CIVAL AIR PATROL" towards the end of the WW 2 years....So flying and building model airplanes and such was always a very big activity growing up....!
Looking at these pictures makes me think you should have a Camcorder....!

Reflekshins said...

enjoyed the post. historical aircraft is good stuff.
i'll have to checkout the flyboys movie, that sounds cool.

michele sent be previously, but I'm still here