The War in the Air
An Ordinary Canadian Pilot Takes Down the German Ace
Published on April 21, 1918
Today, a Canadian pilot named Roy Brown rewrites the history of the war in Europe. He has killed the German air ace, Manfred von Richthofen, also known as "The Red Baron", who was well-known for his 80 kills on the Allied planes.
The saga began when "The Red Baron" was so engrossing in homing his 81st kill on a Canadian fighter named Wilfred "Wop" May that he failed to notice Brown was now on his tail. At the same time, Richthofen was taking ground fire from Australian troops in the trenches. Bullets ripped through his seat and reached his heart and lungs, killing him instantly before his plane crashed behind the enemy lines (Henderson, P.21).
Brown's victory reminds Canadians of the Black Flight who took over the control of the skies from the Germans in June 6, 1917. The Flight were a group of elite Canadian pilots who painted their aircrafts black and gave their aircrafts names like Black Maria, Black Roger, and Black Death. Led by Raymond Collishaw, these adept fliers shot down 10 German planes and surprised the Germans, who was holding an absolute control over the skies in the first half of 1917. The Black Flight's victory signified the end of German domination in the skies over the Western Front (Henderson, 21).
Canadians' contribution to the aerial warfare in Europe is not limited in terms of combat only. Back in home front, The Canadian Aeroplanes Ltd. in Toronto produced 1200 training aircraft for Britain and 30 flying boats for the United States (Military Aviation).
Before the Battle of Mons on August 23, 1914(Livesey,7), nobody could really predict that the British and the French armies could have an upper hand over their enemies. The Allies' victory in the air was attributed to the invention of reconnaissance planes, which heralded the beginning of the War in the Air.
Ironically, in the beginning of the war, Canada's Minister of Militia and Defense, Sam Hughes, stated that "The aeroplane is an invention of the devil, and will never play any part in such a serious business as the defense of the nation(Cook)." He has never thought that these aerial fighters would rewrite history. In the beginning of war, an aircraft typically carries a pilot and an observer with a camera, who would photograph troop positions on the ground.
However, these reconnaissance planes had limitations--they were designed to collect intelligence only, not to carry ammunition to launch an attack on enemies. Soon, military strategists realized the need to stop enemy observation planes. This led to the birth of Fighter Planes. More advanced aircrafts with speed and flexibility were built ever since.
Although the aircrafts will not make a difference on the outcome of the war, they will definitely change how armies fight in the future(Taylor, 34).
Henderson, Ian & Peter Lawley, Norm Probert & Don Quinlan. World Affairs Defining Canada's Role. Canada: Oxford University Press Canada, 1998
Livesey, Robert & A. G. Smith. Discovering Canada The Great War. Toronto: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2006.
Military Aviation. World War One Research Package - The War in the Air. N.p., n.d. Print.
Taylor, David. Key Battles of World War I. Hong Kong: Heinemann Library
Cook, Tim. The Great War in the Air. The Canadian Encyclopedia, 7 Aug. 2014. Web. 21 Feb. 2015. <http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/en/article/...>
Greenhous, Brereton. Arthur Roy Brown. The Canadian Encyclopedia, 20 Oct. 2014. Web. 21 Feb. 2015. <http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/en/article/...>
World War I (1914-1919) The War in the Air. Spark Notes, n.d. Web. 15 Feb. 2015 <http://www.sparknotes.com/history/european/ww1/sec...>