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Aces of Aviation

Siemens-Schuckert D III of Ernst Udet

Siemens-Schuckert D III of Ernst Udet

Siemens-Schuckert D III of the Jagdstaffel 4, piloted by Oberleutnant Ernst Udet, in May 1918.

Wingspan: 8.43 meters.

Length: 5.70 meters.

Height: 2.80 meters.

Engine[s]: Siemens-Halske SH III of 160 horsepower.

Maximum speed: 180 kilometers/hour.

Service ceiling: 8000 meters.

Range: 2 hours.

Armament: Two Spandau 7.92-millimeter machine guns.

Ernst Udet, born in Frankfurt the 26th April 1896, can be included, without any doubt, among the half dozen of best pilots of the first half of the 20th century. This is so true that his name was adopted, as honor stamp, by the Jagdgeschwader 3 of the Luftwaffe during the Second World War. Along with names such as Von Richthofen, Immelmann, Boelcke and Mölders, such award is proof of the esteem that generations of German pilots had towards him.

Udet had been a glider pilot before starting his career as combat pilot in the first half of the year 1916, in the French sector of the Western Front. In the mid 1917 he performed flights over France, but his record of victories was only six. During March 1918 Udet attracted the attention of Von Richthofen, who was already regarded as the recordman pilot of the First World War, and shortly after he was ordered to join the 2nd Flight of Von Richthofen's company, piloting a Fokker Dr I triplane. His record quickly rose from that moment and when he reached 30 victories, in April, he was awarded the Cross "Pour Le Mérite" and the command of the Jasta 4, equipped with Fokker D VII and Siemens-Schuckert D III which operated in the front of Metz. It was during the summer of 1918 when the record of downings of this outstanding pilot reached 62, just one place from that of the very Von Richthofen. But he was wounded and downed in September, and could not return to the front before the end of the war.

During the interwar period Ernst Udet became internationally renowned as acrobatic pilot in both sides of the Atlantic. The enthusiasm that he put in his work earned him to be appointed inspector of ground-strike and fighter-bomber aircraft in February 1936, and director of Technical Development in the Reich's Ministry of Aviation (Reichsluftfahrtministerium) in June of that same year. In 1938 he was promoted to the rank of Major and appointed Chief of Aviation Supplies and Resources. But, even being an excellent pilot as he was, Ernst Udet lacked the organization skills that this high position required. The huge effort required to boost the development of the military aviation in the German industry gradually depleted his mental and physical energy. The continuous tension in his work and the increment of domestic concerns led Ernst Udet to put an end to his life, committing suicide the 17th November 1941.