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WERNER VOSS | Rival of the Red Baron

Updated on March 3, 2014

Germany's Aces of World War I

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 was a friend and rival of the renowned Manfred von Richthofen, but lacked the Red Baron's aristocratic background.

Werner Voss had 48 confirmed kills making him the 5th highest Ace of Germany.

Werner Voss

WW1 Aces of Germany

Enlisting in the 2nd Westphalian Hussar regiment Nr. 11 in 1914, like many cavalrymen he eventually transferred to the Luftstreitkräfte or German Air Service, learning to fly at Egelsberg near his hometown. Evidently a natural pilot, upon graduating he was immediately enrolled as an instructor, before departing to the front where he had to serve with Kampfstaffel 20 of Kampfgeschwader IV as an observer before he could earn his pilot's badge. Transferring to scout aircraft, he was posted to Oswald Boelcke's Jasta (Jagdstaffel) 2 where he flew as Manfred von Richthofen's wingman. At the age of only 18 years, he scored his first victory on November 27, 1916. Flying an Albatros D.III scout aircraft decorated with an Iron cross, Swastika (not a symbol of the Nazi Party at the time), and heart motifs (for good luck), he achieved 38 credited victories.

SEPTEMBER EVENING: The Life and Final Combat of the 48-Victory Ace Werner Voss

The first full-length biography about the life and death of the nineteen-year-old Werner Voss, who was a legend in his own lifetime and the youngest recipient of the Pour le Me'rite, Germany's highest award for bravery in the Great War. At the time of his death he was considered by many, friend and foe alike, to be Germany's greatest ace and, had he lived, he would almost certainly have overtaken Manfred von Richthofen's victory total by early spring 1918.

Werner Voss - World War One Ace

Werner Voss and His Motorbike

Werner Voss and His Motorbike
Werner Voss and His Motorbike

Lieutenant der Reserve Werner Voss and the Pilots of Jasta 10

Lieutenant der Reserve Werner Voss and the Pilots of Jasta 10 is 480 pages with 200 to 300 black and white photographs (many never published before) of the World War One German Ace who was 4th on the list of top aces of WW1. This book contains 19 chapters with two appendices, including other views of how Werner Voss was shot down.

Werner Voss's Last Flight - World War 1 Aces

What Happened to Werner Voss

He was finally shot down after single-handedly engaging in combat with up to eight Royal Aircraft Factory SE5s of 60 and 56 Squadrons of the Royal Flying Corps on September 23, 1917, over Poelcappelle. Although the SE5's were flown by some of the RFC's best aces (James McCudden, Richard Maybery, Keith Muspratt, Reginald Hoidge, Arthur Rhys Davids and Hammersley) by exploiting the triplane's superior rate of climb and its ability to slip turn, Voss continually outflew his opponents and fought bravely, before succumbing to an attack generally credited to Lieutenant Arthur Rhys Davids of 56 Squadron. His aircraft crashed near Plum Farm north of Frezenberg in Belgium. Only the rudder, cowling, and parts of the undercarriage were salvaged and the aircraft was the subject of a report by 2nd Lieutenant G. Barfoot-Saunt.

Werner Voss's Life

WW1 Fighter Aces

He was subsequently promoted to temporary commands at Jastas 5, 29, and 14 before moving to a permanent command at Jasta 10 as part of Richthofen's Jagdgeschwader I (JG I) (or "Flying Circus" as it later became known to the Allies). Having tested one of the F.1 prototypes (103/17, Wk. Nr.1730) of the Fokker Dr.I triplane scout for Anthony Fokker, Voss evidently adapted his flying style to the rotary engine triplane, being credited with a further 10 victories with this new aircraft, bringing his total to 48 aircraft. He adorned the cowling of his new aircraft by painting two eyes, eyebrows, and a moustache (a face motif thought by some to derive from Japanese kites). Voss was known for being a loner and an inspirational, rather than effective, leader (modern writers often describe him as 'mercurial').

More About Werner Voss

World War 1 Flying Aces

He was subsequently promoted to temporary commands at Jastas 5, 29, and 14 before moving to a permanent command at Jasta 10 as part of Richthofen's Jagdgeschwader I (JG I) (or "Flying Circus" as it later became known to the Allies). Having tested one of the F.1 prototypes (103/17, Wk. Nr.1730) of the Fokker Dr.I triplane scout for Anthony Fokker, Voss evidently adapted his flying style to the rotary engine triplane, being credited with a further 10 victories with this new aircraft, bringing his total to 48 aircraft. He adorned the cowling of his new aircraft by painting two eyes, eyebrows, and a moustache (a face motif thought by some to derive from Japanese kites). Voss was known for being a loner and an inspirational, rather than effective, leader (modern writers often describe him as 'mercurial').

Fokker Dr1 triplane
Fokker Dr1 triplane

Fokker F.1

Aerodrome

One of the British pilots he fought against that day, Major James McCudden, a recipient of the V.C. who would become a leading English ace of World War I before being himself killed in an aircraft accident in the summer of 1918, expressed sincere regret at his death; "His flying was wonderful, his courage magnificent and in my opinion he was the bravest German airman whom it has been my privilege to see fight."

Using a combination of skill and the maneuverability advantages of a tri-winged craft, Voss was able to swing around at high speeds and attack those behind him, practically flying backwards. His death appears to be due to the fact that he was unaware of the additional target coming up on him.

Voss' decorations and awards include: the Iron Cross 1st and 2nd Class, the Knights Cross with Swords of the Hohenzollern House Order, and the Orden Pour le Mérite (the "Blue Max").

Voss is one of 44,292 Germans buried in the German War Cemetery at Langemarck, some 6km north east of Ypres, Belgium.

Werner Voss's Main Aircraft - The Fokker Dr1

Werner Voss Videos - World War 1 Airplanes

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.

World War 1 on eBay - WW1 in the Air

Werner Voss

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.

JOSEF JACOBS | WW1 Ace
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...

HERMANN GORING | WW1 Ace
During the first year of World War I, Göring served with an infantry regiment in the Vosges region. He was hospitalized with rheumatism resulting from the d...

OSWALD BOELCKE | WW1 Ace
Oswald Boelcke 19 May 1891 - 28 October 1916) was a German flying ace of the First World War and one of the most influential patrol leaders and tacticians of...

FRITZ RUMEY | WW1 Ace
Fritz Rumey, the 5th highest ace for Germany in World War I with 45 victories. Fritz Rumey (March 3, 1891 - September 27, 1918) was a German fighter p...

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...

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Have You Ever Heard of Werner Voss? - World War 1 History

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    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 5 years ago

      Another history lesson I like to learn thanks

    • Paperquest5 profile image
      Author

      Paperquest5 5 years ago

      @milky-way-35977: Thanks for dropping by.

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      milky-way-35977 5 years ago

      cool collection

    • Paperquest5 profile image
      Author

      Paperquest5 5 years ago

      @catmaxx: Did you put the eyes and mustache on the cowl?

    • catmaxx profile image

      Terry Lomax 5 years ago from Rep. of Ireland

      built a 1/32nd scale model of his fokker triplane some years ago, his triplane was metallic pale blue

    • Paperquest5 profile image
      Author

      Paperquest5 5 years ago

      @ryanhx64: Thanks for dropping by, ryanhx64. The flyers from World War One have always interested me.

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      ryanhx64 5 years ago

      Nope. interesting.

    • Paperquest5 profile image
      Author

      Paperquest5 5 years ago

      So many of the flyers in the Great War have been forgotten, only Von Richthofen is remembered anymore. Thanks for dropping by, billybraveheart!

    • Bill Armstrong profile image

      Bill Armstrong 5 years ago from Valencia, California

      Seen many on history Chanel but cannot recall this guy, awesome lens, thanks for sharing

    • Paperquest5 profile image
      Author

      Paperquest5 5 years ago

      @JoshK47: JoshK47, thanks for dropping by and blessing the lens. Glad you enjoyed it.

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      JoshK47 5 years ago

      Quite a fascinating read! Blessed by a SquidAngel!

    • Paperquest5 profile image
      Author

      Paperquest5 5 years ago

      @Squidoo-Freak: Squidoo-Freak, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. Glad you liked the lens. I really like World War One aviators.

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      Squidoo-Freak 5 years ago

      This lens brought back memories of playing the game 'Wings' from Cinemaware on the Amiga computer. Those were the days!

    • access2 profile image

      access2 8 years ago

      The Fokker Dr-1 Triplane favored by Voss was arguably the best fighter aircraft of WWI. What it lacked in speed was amply offset by its legendary maneuverability. Due in part to it's short wingspan, the gyroscopic effect of its 100 HP Oberursel rotary engine would cause it to yaw to the right in a climb. Voss' aircraft was fitted with a captured Le Rhone (Nieuport) engine -- not an uncommon practice at the time -- which caused it to yaw to the left.