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Victory 15

Event ID: 150

27 December 1916

50.22926527661737, 2.7448214090428165
12 km east of Ficheux

Source ID: 13

Under the guns of the Red Baron, Norman Franks, Hal Giblin and Nigel McCrery

ISBN: 9781898697275

Combat Report: 1625 hrs, above Ficheux, south of Arras. FE two-seater was smashed, number etc. not recognisable. At 1615, five planes of our Staffel attacked enemy squadron south of Arras. The enemy approached our lines, but was thrown back. After some fighting I managed to attack a very courageously flown Vickers two-seater. After 300 shots, enemy plane began dropping, uncontrolled. I pursued the plan up to 1.000 metres above the ground. Enemy plane crashed to ground on enemy side, one kilometre behind trenches near Ficheux. (possibly) Capt. JB Quested (WIA); Lt. HJH Dicksee (unhurt) (Some sources claim that this was Sgt. James McCudden of No.29 Squadron, in a DH.2.) Quested/Dicksee were downed at 11.20 hours, 12 km east of Ficheux (probably versus Jasta 1)- inside Allied lines. Richthofen claimed his kill at 16.25 hours [2] McCudden, who returned to base, fits the time period. Weather: mist in the morning, clearing later.

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  1. source: Inside the victories of Manfred von richthofen – Volume 1, James F. Miller, Aeronaut Books, 2016

    Although Richthofen claimed (corroborated by Air Batteries 13 and 47) and received credit for this DH.2 flown by future 57-victory ace and RFC luminary James McCudden, it did not crash. Later McCudden wrote that he and Richthofen engaged in a head-on firing pass initiated at 100 yards, during which McCudden’s gun jammed. Richthofen continued to engage, forcing McCudden to “turn on [his] back and [dive] vertically” to escape. At 800 feet (Richthofen wrote 1000 meters) Richthofen disengaged via a climbing egress to the east amidst antiaircraft fire, allowing McCudden the freedom to rectify the jam and pursue, but he was unable to catch the Albatros due to the latter’s superior climb performance. McCudden noted that his machine received no hits during this encounter.

    From McCudden’s combat report: “Going east of Arras I saw five HA. Lt Jennings attacked an HA and another JA was approaching from behind. I fired about 15 shots and drove him off. He turned and came towards me, firing. I opened fire at 100 yards and after about eight shots my gun stopped, due to a cross feed. As the hostile machine was engaging me at close range, I turned on my back and dived vertically, in a slow spin and in this way regained our lines. At 800 feet over Basseux the HA left me. I quickly rectified the stoppage and followed the HA across the trenches at 2,000 feet. Owing to his superior speed and climb he out distanced me and rejoined his patrol at about 5,000 feet. The hostile patrol then withdrew. ”

    Although in his 1918 Air Combat Operations Manual Richthofen opined that head-on attacks against two-seaters (which he thought McCudden was flying) were ‘very dangerous,’ in late 1916 he was still refining the lessons learned from Boelcke and ostensibly had not compiled enough experience to conclude the tactical ineffectiveness of this attack methodology.

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