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Victory 48

Event ID: 201

28 April 1917

50.27905567036076, 2.945449095384755
E of Pelves, SE edge of Square 6998

Source ID: 13

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

ISBN: 9781898697275

Combat Report: 0930 hrs, Wood east of Pelves, south-east corner of Square 6998, this side of line. BE2. Pilot: Lieutenant Follit, killed. Observer: F I Kirckham, slightly injured. While on pursuit-flying, about 0930, I attacked an enemy infantry or artillery flyer at 600 metres above the trenches. Above the wood of Pelves I caused the enemy plane to fall. The adversary, from the beginning to the end of the fight, was never able to get out of range of my guns. Weather:low clouds.

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

    1. In a post-war interview Kirkham recalled the BE.2 had “two Lewis guns, one firing forward through the propeller, and the other fixed over the top plane (wing) firing backward.” This is unlikely because Vickers rather than Lewis machine guns were used for synchronised forward firing through the rotating propeller disc, and on a BE.) any guns mounted to the upper wing would be rendered unreachable from the observer’s cockpit. Nor would there be any reason to mount a machine gun in that fashion.

    2. Kirkham and Follit survived the airplane crash because the BE.2 “hit a clump of small trees,” which cushioned the impact. Follit died an hour later but as a result of his gunshot wound, not the crash.

    3. In his combat report Richthofen refers to his weapon as a “gun,” singular. However, in late April Jasta 11’s complement of one-gun’ is likely Halberstadts was long gone. Thus, “gun” is likely a typo either in the original German document or more likely the translation.

    4. Kirkham recalled that after Follit was hit and the BE.2 dived toward the ground, ‘the red plane just hung on my tail and kept firing all the time’ and “the red scout stuck right there on the tail, and his two machine[guns] were pumping lead all the time.”’ Another example of Richthofen’s no-quarter modus operandi. Although “the sleeves and shoulders of my flying jacket had several dozen holes through them and then one bullet hit the barrel of the machine gun right under my nose,” Kirkham only suffered bullet splashes (finely divided fragments produced by bullets impacting armor or hard objects [such as a machine gun]) to the face and hands.

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