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MAX IMMELMANN | WW1 Ace

Updated on March 3, 2014

Germany's Aces of World War I

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 Max" in the German Air Service in honor of Immelmann. His medal was presented by Kaiser Wilhelm II in January 1916. Oswald Boelcke received his medal at the same ceremony.

Max Immelmann

WW1 Flying Ace

He was born in Dresden, the son of a paper board container factory owner. After leaving school, he joined the Eisenbahnregiment Berlin. During 1913 - 1914, he studied mechanical engineering in Dresden.

Wartime career

When World War I started, Immelmann was recalled to active service, transferred to the Luftstreitkräfte and was sent for pilot training in November 1914. He was initially stationed in northern France as a reconnaissance aviator. On June 3, 1915 he was shot down by a French pilot but managed to land safely behind German lines. He was decorated with the Iron Cross, Second Class for preserving his aircraft. Later in 1915, he became a fighter pilot. He became known as The Eagle of Lille (Der Adler von Lille).

IMMELMANN THE EAGLE OF LILLE

When World War I started, Max Immelmann was called back to active service and transferred to the Luftstreitkafte and was sent for pilot training in November 1914. On June 3, 1915 he was shot down by a French pilot but managed to land safely behind German lines. His first decoration was the Iron Cross, Second Class for saving his aircraft. In 1915 he became one of the first German fighter pilots, quickly building an impressive score of victories, he became known as The Eagle of Lille or in German, Der Adler von Lille.

Immelmann was the first pilot to be awarded the Pour le Me'rite, Germany's highest military honor. The medal became colloquially known as the "Blue Max" in the German Air Service in honor of Immelmann. His medal was presented by Kaiser Wilhelm II in January 1916.

Founder of the aerial combat maneuver that still bears his name, Immelmann was credited with 15 victories, his final one coming on 30 March 1916.

Max Immelmann

Fokker Eindecker

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 Max" in the German Air Service in honor of Immelmann. His medal was presented by Kaiser Wilhelm II in January 1916. Oswald Boelcke received his medal at the same ceremony.

Fokker Eindecker

Immelmann will forever be associated with the Fokker Eindecker, Germany's first fighter aircraft, and the first to be armed with a machine gun synchronised to fire forward, through the propeller arc. Along with Oswald Boelcke and other pilots, Immelmann was one of the main instigators of the Fokker Scourge which inflicted heavy loses upon British and French aircrews during 1915.

Max Immelmann

Max Immelmann
Max Immelmann

The Immelmann Turn - Max Immelmann

This refers to two quite different aerobatic maneuvers. The first of these is the one nowadays known as an "Immelmann".

1. A half loop followed by a half roll on top, used to rapidly reverse the direction of flight. This maneuver would not have been practical in the primitive, underpowered fighters of 1915-16, and its connection with the German fighter ace is most doubtful.

2. During the First World War an "Immelmann turn" was actually a sharp rudder turn off a vertical zoom following a steep dive - resembling what is now called a "wingover" or "stall turn". Immelmann may have originated this maneuver, or used it in combat, but this cannot be authenticated.

Max Immelmann

The Death of the Eagle of Lille

Immelmann was killed in combat with F.E.2b aircraft of 25 Squadron Royal Flying Corps over Sallaumines in northern France on June 18, 1916. According to the official British account he was shot down by Second Lieutenant G.R. McCubbin with Corporal J. H. Waller as gunner/observer, and they were credited with the victory.

On the other hand, some sources, including the German Air Service at the time, claimed the loss was due to (friendly) anti-aircraft artillery. Others, including his brother, believed his aircraft's interrupter mechanism (designed to enable his machine gun to fire between the whirling propeller blades without damaging them) had catastrophically malfunctioned.

At 2000 meters Immelmann's tail plane was seen to break away from the rest of his Fokker E.III fuselage (serial 246/16), the wings detached or folded and what remained of the fuselage fell like a stone, carrying the 26 year old Oberleutnant to his death. His body was recovered by German infantry from the twisted wreckage but was only identified because he had his initials "MI" embroidered on his handkerchief.

Immelmann was credited with 15 victories. His final victory was on 30 March 1916.

Max Immelmann has a squadron named after him in the present day Luftwaffe, the German Air Force.

Fokker DR.1 Triplane

The Fokker Dr.1 Triplane, one of the aircraft that most of the German Aces used during the Great War. Equipped with the 110 hp Oberurel rotary engine and twin Spandau machine guns that could be fired independently, this airplane had an excellent rate of climb and could match the Camel for maneuverability.

Max Immelmann

Pfalz Aircraft of WWI:

A Centennial Perspective

on Great War Airplanes (Volume 5)

This is the newest book from World War One Author Jack Herris. Illustrations by Bob Pearson and Martin Digmayer, cover art by Aaron Weaver and cover design by Steve Anderson. This new book covers the development of Pfalz aircraft that most of the German Aces of World War One flew. The new book contains 530 photographs, 28 in full color, 81 color profiles, 10 color illustrations, serial number of aircraft. Also aircraft dimensions and performance specs. 1/72 and 1/48 scale drawings are included of 15 Pfalz aircraft types.

Fokker Eindecker

Fokker Eindecker
Fokker Eindecker

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