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Updated on March 3, 2014

Godwin Brumowski, Austro-Hungarian Ace of World War One

Godwin Brumowski (26 July 1889 - 3 June 1936) was the most successful fighter ace of the Austro-Hungarian Air Force during World War I. He was officially credited with 35 air victories, with 8 others unconfirmed because they fell behind Allied lines. Brumowski rose to command of all his country's fighter aviation fighting Italy on the Isonzo front.[

Godwin Brumowski

Austro-Hungarian Ace

Godwin Brumowski (26 July 1889 - 3 June 1936) was the most successful fighter ace of the Austro-Hungarian Air Force during World War I. He was officially credited with 35 air victories, (including 12 shared with other pilots) with 8 others unconfirmed because they fell behind Allied lines. Just before the war ended, Brumowski rose to command of all his country's fighter aviation fighting Italy on the Isonzo front.

Godwin Brumowski

World War One Ace

He was posted to Fliegerkompagnie 1 (Flik 1) at Czernowitz, commanded by Hauptmann Otto Jindra, in July 1915; Brumowski was thus initially assigned as an aerial observer on the Russian Front.[2] His flight log describes him as 1.77 meters (5 feet 10 inches) tall, with blue eyes and light blond hair.[citation needed]

On 12 April 1916 Jindra and Brumowski crewed one of the seven Austro-Hungarian planes that participated in bombing a military review attended by Czar Nicholas II. In the process, they shot down two of the seven Russian Morane-Saulnier Parasol two-seaters that attempted to drive them off.[2]

From Flying Machine Press

Austria-Hungary's Leading Ace

On 3 July 1916 Brumowski became a pilot with Flik 1,[2] despite the defective vision in his right eye that he corrected with a monocle. In November, he transferred to Flik 12[3] on the Italian Front.[4] He helped down an Italian Caproni bomber on 3 December. On 2 January he became an ace when he was victorious over an Italian Farman two-seater while piloting a Hansa-Brandenburg C.I.[3] It is notable that Brumowski became an ace while still flying two-seater craft basically unsuited for air to air combat.

The next month, when Flik 41J was established on the Italian Front as Austro-Hungary's first dedicated fighter squadron, Brumowski was chosen to command it. He spent nine days in March flying four sorties with the Germans of Jagdstaffel 24 to learn German fighter tactics, before assuming his command. While here he met the Red Baron, Manfred von Richthofen;[5] Brumowski would later copy the baron's aircraft paint scheme for his own plane.[6]

Brumowski continued amassing victories through May, ending the month with a total of eight. By now, he was flying a single seat fighter, the Hansa-Brandenburg D.I. Although better suited for air to air combat than the C.1, it still suffered three major disadvantages: the pilot's vision was partially obstructed; the single machine gun was not synchronized to fire through the propeller arc,[7] and it was a tricky craft to fly because it was easy to spin[8] at any altitude.[9] Aiming and firing a gun mounted above and ahead of the pilot[3] was more difficult than simply aiming the airplane at the enemy and firing a synchronized gun.

As was customary with Austro-Hungarian units, Flik 41j had an assortment of aircraft types available. In June 1917 Brumowski flew an Aviatik D.I with no combat success.[10] The Austro-Hungarian Fliks were also hampered by a doctrine that tied them to escort of reconnaissance aircraft instead of freeing them to rove and hunt in the German fashion.

In July 1917 Flik 41J lost eleven of the D.I fighters in accidents; the Hansa-Brandenburg's nickname became "the flying coffin".[9]

In August 1917 Brumowski scored a remarkable streak of victories, being credited with 12 confirmed and 6 unconfirmed kills between the 10 and 28 August. Two of these victories, on the 19th and 20th, were the result of a partial transition to a newer fighter plane, a German Albatros D.III with twin synchronized guns. On the 20th he scored once with the Albatros and twice with the Hansa-Brandenburg D.I. By the end of August the transition was complete; he would use the Albatros to score the rest of his victories.[11]

On 9 October 1917 he shot down and burned an observation balloon for his 22nd victory; it was the first of five balloons he would down.[11] His Albatros that day was painted all red, in emulation of von Richthofen, with the addition of mustard colored skulls on either side of the fuselage. This paint scheme would become characteristic of his aircraft until war's end.[6]

World War One Aircraft

Godwin Brumowski

Air Aces of World War One

On 1 February 1918 Brumowski became involved in a fight with eight enemy fighters. Some of the 26 bullets striking his Albatros ignited the fuel tank built into the upper wing. He managed to land at his home field without serious injury, becoming a rare survivor of an in-craft fire. The fire ate the fabric off the upper wing and the inboard portions of the lower one, leaving only the scorched bare spars and struts of the wing roots.[6]

Three days later, while flying another Albatros he fought eight English fighters and took multiple machine gun hits. With his wings breaking up he still managed to land, though the Albatros flipped over and was totally destroyed.[6]

Brumowski fought on until 23 June 1918, when he was ordered on extended leave. His last successful fight was on 19 June; he scored his 35th victory and suffered 37 hits in his plane. He had flown 439 combat sorties, but his combat career was ended.[6]

Also on 23 June he was invited by Generaloberst (Colonel-General) Ferdinand to make the customary mandatory application for Austria-Hungary's highest decoration, the Knight's Cross of the Military Order of Maria Theresa. Brumowski's reply:[12]

"If I have earned this award through my service, then it should be cause enough for the Commander in Chief to present it to me. It is not my duty to ask or demand it."[12]

Austria-Hungary's leading fighter ace never received his nation's highest award.[12]

On 11 October even though he was still only a Hauptmann (Captain), he was named to command all Austro-Hungarian fighter squadrons on the Isonzo Front. World War I ended a month later.[12][13]

Over the Front - Austro-Hungary

Some Other World War One Aces

WERNER VOSS | Rival of the Red Baron
Werner Voss (April 13, 1897-September 23, 1917) was a World War I German fighter pilot and ace. Born in Krefeld, the first son of an industrial dyer, Voss wa...

MAX IMMELMANN | World War One Ace
Max Immelmann was the first pilot to be awarded the Pour le Mérite, Germany's highest military honour. The medal became colloquially known as the "Blue...

Georges Guynemer (December 24, 1894 - September 11, 1917) was a top French fighter ace during World War I and a national hero at the time of his death. Upon ...

ERNST UDET | WW1 Ace | Germany's Second Highest Scoring Fighter Pilot
Ernst Udet (April 26 1896 - November 17 1941) was the second-highest scoring German flying ace of World War I. He was one of the youngest aces and was the hi...

Air Marshal William Avery "Billy" Bishop VC, CB, DSO & Bar, MC, DFC, ED (8 February 1894 - 11 September 1956) was a Canadian First World War fl...

Josef Jacobs was the 8th highest ace with 48 victories. Lieutenant Josef Karl Peter Jacobs (1894-1978) was one of Germany's leading air aces of the First Wor...

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      Paperquest5 5 years ago

      @julieannbrady: Another great World War I ace that most people have never heard of. Aren't you Hungarian? Thanks for visiting my lens and leaving a comment!

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      julieannbrady 5 years ago

      You know, for some inexplicable reason, I was drawn to visit this page, the first of the afternoon. And, what a surprise! Austro-Hungarian? Well, what an interesting guy with an even more interesting name.