Sunday, 7 May 2017

Pegoud - The First Ace

Adolphe Pégoud holds a number of distinctions. He was the first man to make a parachute jump from an aircraft, and the first to fly one inverted. He was also credited with being the first pilot to fly a loop, but in fact a Russian pilot beat him to it by just over a week. Nevertheless he was a pioneering aviator and after a period as a flying instructor, quickly became a combat pilot when WW1 broke out. Flying a Maurice-Farman two-seater, he and his observer were credited with two kills and an a forced-landing in February 1915. When he switched to a single-seater he claimed two more kills in July and a third in August. His total of six kills made him the first pilot to be awarded the title 'ace'.

On 31st August 1915,  Pégoud was targetting a German reconnaissance plane when he was attacked and killed by one of his former pupils, Unteroffizier Walter Kandulski, flying a Fokker monoplane.

His last fight sounded like it was worthy to be a Spandau and Lewis scenario, so I set it up. A German two-seater is off on a mission. I used the stats for the Aviatik C1, with an experienced crew.

Pégoud appears, closing in steadily on the German plane. Pégoud was flying a Nieuport 10.

A cloud provided some last-minute cover.

Pégoud swoops into the attack.

The damaged Aviatik tried to turn and bring its guns to bear, but Pégoud slipped onto its tail, and a second burst downed the German.

However Kandulski's Fokker Eindecker was in the area.

The German initially had the jump on the Frenchman, putting a few bullets through his fuselage.

Both pilots turned their aircraft hard, trying to get on the other's tail. In a fight of this nature, the Nieuport's better handling, and Pégoud's greater pilot skill counted for a lot.

The blue markers show an aircraft that has lost power due to a tight turn. The German managed to get another shot at Pégoud, damaging his plane.

Pégoud soon regained the upper hand, though. This long-range shot had no effect, but the German was now in trouble.

Another shot badly damaged the Fokker ...

... and a third saw it fall apart in the sky.

So this game saw a reversal of history, with Pégoud gaining two more kills. His plane was, in fact, badly damaged, but luck was with him, and his superiority as a pilot, plus his more agile plane gave him the win. Had the Aviatik survived the first attack, Pégoud would have been harder pressed.

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