In keeping with my theme of not staying on target, I have distracted off to WWI Air Gaming again. I purchased a few aircraft for the Italian Front. A pair of Nieuport 10s for the Italians and a pair of Fokker Eindecker E.IIIs. These should prove interesting to paint up as Italian and Austro-Hungarians.
Now the question becomes how were these used. I have two books that cover this: Above the War Fronts and Air Aces of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, 1914-1918 by Martin O'Connor. O'Connor's book is an awesome tome that provides much more detail than anything else I have found. Looking at Amazon, I feel like I got a steal when I bought it for $75 back in the mid 2000s. Searching through the Austro-Hungarian Aces list, you find very few aces that claimed kills using an Eindecker. This is probably due to the lack of them.
At the tail end of 1915, the Austro-Hungarians a shipment of 13 E.I and E.III aircraft from Germany with stipulations that they could not under any circumstances fly them over enemy held territory. These were parceled out across the front with the airbase at Haidenschaft receiving 4 of them to be shared among three FliK's (4, 8 and 19). These FliK's (AH Squadrons) were mixed use squadrons in 1915 & 1916 with pilots flying both two seater Hansa-Brandenburg C.I's and and Fokker Eindecker aircraft. The E.IIIs were numbered 03.41 and 03.42. The E.Is were 03.51 and 03.52. These numbers were displayed prominently on their fuselage. The 03.52 aircraft was nicknamed the Snow Bird by Leutnant Ludwig Hautzmeyer who scored two of his kills in this aircraft. Thanks to the Wings Palette web site, we can link to one of these images.
Hauptmann Heinrich Kostrba is another pilot to score multiple kills with an Eindecker. He was the deputy commander of FliK 4 from January 1916 to March 1916 when he was posted to command FliK 23. Hauptmann Mathais Bernath was the commander of FliK 4 at the time.
The most successful of the Eindecker pilots was Oberleutnant Ludwig Hautzmayer. He joined FliK 19 in February of 1916. He is officially credited with 2 Eindecker kills. The first on February 18, 1916 and the second on August 9, 1916. In between his first and second Eindecker Victories, he also shot down a bomber while piloting a Hansa-Brandenburg C.I.
In late August, the Austro-Hungarians began to reequip with Albatross D.III aircraft. The Fokker Scourge, as it was over Italy, was at an end. The switch to newer aircraft coincided with the change in tactics by the Italians. Beginning in August 1916, bombers were now assigned fighter escorts. By the end of the year, the ITalians had suffered 176 losses and claimed 56 victories. The Austro-Hungarian pilots claimed some 35 Italian aircraft as confirmed kills. Both sides greatly expanded their air programs. The Italians closed the year with 42 squadrons totaling 328 aircraft and 369 pilots. The AH Empire had ordered the creation of 48 FliKs but only 37 were active by years end.
The kills scored in 1916 reflect the importance that the Italians placed on bomber formations. Up until mid 1916, they had no scout planes at all. To make up for this, they utilized the two-seater Nieuport 10s in a scout role but with no success.The Italians began to replace their Nieuport 10 fighters with the new Nieuport 11 scouts in April of 1916. The first Italian victory was claimed in a Nieuport 11 on April 7, 1916. This was by their greatest ace Francesco Baracca. He claimed a Hansa-Brandenburg C.I.
Some fantastic maps are available online that cover the area of the front. The 3rd Military Mapping Survey maps from 1910 are available here. This is the index page. You can find the Haidenscaft area in the map just to the right of the Trieszt map. You will find it on the left hand side of the map close to the middle. As you can see, the area where these aircraft could reliably operate was very limited. The steep mountains could not be overflown by these early aircraft.
I also ordered Alexis Mehtidis' book on the Italian Air force: Italian Military Aviation in WWI: 1914-1918. I am really looking forward to this. Alexis helped me out with the orders of battle for the 11th battle of Isonzo when I had written an article for the Summer 2008 TFL special. He has another book out on both the Italian and Austro-Hungarian airforces that I have not been able to find yet.