23 September 1967: Colonel Robin Olds, United States Air Force, the Wing Commander, of the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing based at Ubon-Rachitani Royal Thai Air Force Base, flew the final combat mission of his military career.
On this last mission, Colonel Olds flew a McDonnell F-4C-21-MC Phantom II, serial number 63-7668. Olds had flown this Phantom when he and Lieutenant William D. Lefever shot down a MiG-21 near Hanoi, 4 May 1967.
63-7668 had been delivered to the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing from the factory on 18 January 1965. It was lost in the South China Sea, 27 January 1968.
Thanks to reader Raymond Shaw for correcting a significant error in the previous version of this post.
23 September 1921: While flight-testing the new Lumière-De Monge racer, Lieutenant Bernard Henri Marie Léonard Barny de Romanet was tragically killed in a crash.
DEATH OF BERNARD DE ROMANET
It is with the most profound regret that we have this week to place on record the accident which resulted in the death of one of France’s finest and most popular pilots, Count Bernard de Romanet. It appears that on September 23 de Romanet took the de Monge machine up for a trial flight. He had previously tested the machine as a biplane, but this is said to have been the first flight made with it as a monoplane; and it proved to be the last. According to reports, de Romanet took off well and climbed to a height of a few hundred metres. He then flattened out, and, it is thought, opened out the engine. The machine is stated by eye-witnesses to have “leapt forward” and to have proceeded at a great pace, judged to be over 300 kilometres (186 miles) per hour. The fabric of the left wing was seen to lift and fly back from the wing. The machine heeled over to the left, but for a few seconds it looked as if de Romanet would regain control, as he managed to right the machine. It then, however, got into a dive, and is stated to have dived straight into the ground. Needless to say, the unfortunate pilot was killed instantly by the terrible shock.
With regard to the cause of the accident, it is stated in our French contemporary L’Auto that it is though that the stitching of the fabric was at fault, the distances between the stitches which attached the fabric to the framework being 12 centimetres instead of the usual 2 centimetres.
Le Marquis Bernard de Romanet came of a very old French family. He was born at Macon on January 28, 1894, and at the age of 18 he commenced his military service in the cavalry. He was made an officer during the War, and distinguished himself, first in the cavalry and later as a pilot. Bernard de Romanet was an officer of the Legion of Honour, and held the Croix de Guerre with 18 palms and the Medaille Militaire. At the end of the War he took to civil aviation, and was always a prominent figure in speed races, being the crack pilot of the Spad-Herbemont machines. At Monaco he won the speed race of 1920, and he put up a splendid flight in last year’s Gordon-Bennett race, in spite of a broken oil pipe which forced him to land smothered in oil.
Some time ago de Romanet had a slight accident while testing a land machine with floatation gear. He alighted on the Seine, but the machine turned turtle instantly, and he was rescued by a motor-boat. While testing the de Monge machine for the Aerial Derby one of his wheels broke, without, however, causing serious damage to the machine. He was an interested spectator at the Derby, in which, but for the mishap, he would have been a competitor. His death will be regretted not only among his many friends, but in the world of aviation generally, for he was a great pilot, a great gentleman, and, last but not least, a real sportsman.
—FLIGHT, The Aircraft Engineer & Airships, No. 666 (No. 39, Vol. XIII), 29 September 1921, at Page 651
Barny de Romanet’s racing airplane, the Lumière-de Monge, was designed by Vicomte Louis-Pierre de Monge de Franeau, and built by Establissements Lumière. It was a strut-braced biplane which could rapidly be converted to a monoplane. The airplane was 7 meters (22 feet, 11.6 inches) long, with an upper wing span of 8 meters (26 feet, 3.0 inches) and lower span of 6 meters (19 feet, 8.2 inches). Its height was 2.75 meters (9 feet, 0.3 inches). The chord of the upper wing was 2.60 meters (8 feet, 6.4 inches) at the root, narrowing to 1.40 meters (4 feet, 7.1 inches) at the tips. The vertical gap between the upper and lower wings was 1.10 meters (3 feet, 7.3 inches). The plan of the upper wing was distinctively trapezoidal and had an area of 15 square meters (161.46 square feet). The lower, 5 square meters (53.82 square feet). It weighed 950 kilograms (2,094 pounds).
The Lumière-de Monge was powered by a water-cooled, normally-aspirated, 18.472 liter (1,127.265-cubic-inch-displacement) Hispano-Suiza 8Fb V-8 engine, with a compression ratio of 5.3:1. The direct-drive engine had a normal power rating of 300 horsepower at 1,850 r.p.m., and could produce a maximum of 400 horsepower. The V-8 engine had a dry weight of 360 kilograms (793.663 pounds). A Lamblin cylindrical radiator was placed above the upper wing.
Le Marquis Bernard Henri Marie Léonard Barny de Romanet was born at Saint-Maurice-de-Satonnay, Saône-et-Loire, Bourgogne, France, 28 January 1894. He was the son of Léonard Jean Michel Barny de Romanet and Marie Noémie Isabelle de Veyssière. He descended from a very old French family.
Bernard Barny de Romanet joined the Cavalry at the age of 18 years, and was assigned to the 16º Regiment de Chasseaurs, 6 December 1912. During World War I, he served with both cavalry and infantry regiments as a Maréchel de Logis (master sergeant) before transferring to the Aéronautique Militaire in July 1915, as a photographer and observer.
After completing flight training in 1916, de Romanet was assigned as a pilot. In early 1918, de Romanet trained as a fighter pilot. He shot down his first enemy airplane 23 May 1918, for which he was awarded the Médaille Militaire, and was promoted to Adjutant (warrant officer). De Romanet was commissioned as a Sous-Lieutenant (equivalent to a second lieutenant in the United States military) several months later. After a fourth confirmed victory he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant (first lieutenant).
By August 1918, Lieutenant de Romanet was in command of Escadrille 167. He was officially credited with having shot down 18 enemy aircraft, sharing credit for 12 with other pilots. He claimed an additional 6 airplanes destroyed.
Lieutenant de Romanet was appointed Chevalier de la légion d’honneur, and was awarded the Croix de Guerre with three étoiles en vermeil (silver gilt) stars and 10 palmes.
23 September 1917: Leutnant Werner Voss, commanding officer of Jagdstaffel 10 of the Deutsche Luftstreitkräfte (German Air Force), a leading fighter ace with 48 confirmed victories, was shot down during a battle which lasted at least eight minutes and involved seven British pilots, themselves aces.
Though Voss’ machine gun fire damaged most of his opponents’ airplanes, his own was hit by fire from at least two of the British airplanes. Voss was struck by three bullets.
His airplane, a prototype Fokker F.I triplane, serial number 103/17, went into a steep dive and crashed north of Frezenberg, Belgium. Voss was killed.
Major James Thomas Byford McCudden, V.C., D.S.O. and Bar, M.C. and Bar, M.M., one of the British pilots involved in the dogfight, later said of Voss,
“As long as I live I shall never forget my admiration for that German pilot, who single-handed fought seven of us for ten minutes and also put some bullets through all our machines. 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.”
The Fokker F.I was a prototype single-engine, single-seat triplane fighter, designed and built by Fokker Flugzeugwerke GmbH, Schwerin, Germany. After very slight changes, the production version would be designated Fokker Dr.I. The fuselage was constructed of steel tubing braced with wire and covered with fabric. The wings used plywood ribs and a boxed plywood spar.
The F.I was 5.770 meters (18 feet, 11.2 inches) long. The upper wing had a span of 7.190 meters (23 feet, 7.1 inches); the middle wing, 6.225 meters (20 feet, 5 inches); and the lower wing, 5.725 meters (18 feet, 9.4 inches). All three wings had a chord of 1.000 meters (3 feet, 3.4 inches). The airplane had an overall height of 2.950 meters (9 feet, 8.1 inches). Its empty weight was 405 kilograms (893 pounds), and the gross weight was 587 kilograms (1,294 pounds).
Originally built with a Motorentfabrik Oberursel Ur.II nine-cylinder rotary engine rated at 110 horsepower (a license-built copy of the French Le Rhône 9J engine), Werner Voss had an actual Le Rhône 9J, serial number J6247, installed to replace the Ur.II.
The Le Rhône 9J, produced by Société des Moteurs Le Rhône, was an air-cooled, normally aspirated, 15.074 liter (919.85 cubic inches) nine-cylinder rotary engine, capable of producing 113 horsepower at 1,200 r.p.m., and a maximum 135 horsepower at 1,350 r.p.m. As the engine rotated, it turned a two-bladed Axial Proppellerwerk AG fixed-pitch, laminated wood propeller with a diameter of 2.660 meters (8 feet, 8.7 inches). The Le Rhône 9J was 850 millimeters (2 feet, 9.47 inches) long and 970 millimeters (3 feet, 2.19 inches) in diameter. It weighed 137 kilograms (302 pounds).
The Fokker F.I had a maximum speed of 185 kilometers per hour (115 miles per hour) at Sea Level and 166 kilometers per hour (103 miles per hour) at 4,000 meters (13,123 feet ). The service ceiling was 7,000 meters (22,966 feet). It carried fuel for approximately 1½ hours of flight.
The F.I was armed with two fixed 8mm Spandau LMG 08/15 machine guns, synchronized to fire forward through the propeller arc. The fighter carried 550 rounds of ammunition per gun.
Werner Voss’ triplane, 103/17 (Wn. 1730), was a prototype, Versuch 5, or V5, ordered on 14 July 1917 and accepted by the German Air Force on 16 August. It was sent to Jagdstafell 10 on 21 August.
A British intelligence officer who examined the wreckage of Voss’ Fokker F.I described it as having camouflaged green upper surfaces and blue lower surfaces. Photographs of 103/17 show painted eyes and a mustache on the engine cowling, which are believed to have been inspired by Japanese kites that Voss had flown as a child.
Leutnant Werner Voss had been awarded the famous Pour le Mérite (the “Blue Max”), Germany’s highest award; the Hausorden von Hohenzollern (the Cross of the Order of the Royal House Order of Hohenzollern with Crown and Swords); and the Eisernes Kreuz (Iron Cross), 1st and 2nd Class.
23 September 1913: Pioneering aviator Eugène Adrien Roland Georges Garros (6 October 1888–5 October 1918) was the first pilot to fly across the Mediterranean Sea.
At 5:47 a.m., he departed Fréjus, Côte d’Azur, France, in a Morane-Saulnier G and flew to Bizerte, Tunisia, 470 miles (756 kilometers) to the south-southeast. He arrived at 1:40 p.m., having been airborne 7 hours, 53 minutes.
Reportedly, the airplane carried sufficient fuel for just 8 hours of flight. According to a contemporary report, only 5 liters (1.32 U.S. gallons) of fuel remained when he landed.
Garros flew on to Kassar Said Aerodrome the following day. His airplane was then dismantled and shipped back to France.
On 15 October 1913, Roland Garros was appointed Chevalier de la légion d’honneur.
The Aéroplanes Morane-Saulnier Type G was a two-place, single-engine monoplane, which had first flown in 1912. The airplane used wing-warping for roll control. It’s landing gear consisted of two wheels and a tail skid. The wooden framework was primarily ash and was covered in fabric. The airplane was 21 feet, 6 inches (6.553 meters) long with a wingspan of 30 feet, 6 inches (9.296 meters). The wing had a chord of 6 feet, 0 inches (1.829 meters), no dihedral, and the wingtips were swept. The airplane had an empty weight of 680 pounds ( 308 kilograms) and a maximum weight of 1,166 pounds (529 kilograms).
The pilot’s instrument panel had a revolution indicator (tachometer), a barograph, and a compass.
The Morane-Saulnier G was powered by an air-cooled 11.835 liter (722.22 cubic inches) Société des Moteurs Gnome Lamda seven-cylinder rotary engine with a single Bosch magneto, with a nominal rating of 80 horsepower (one source indicates that the engine actually produced 67.5 horsepower at 1,250 r.p.m.), and driving a laminated walnut Chauvière Hélice Intégrale fixed-pitch propeller which had a diameter of 7 feet, 10 inches (2.570meters).
The airplane had a 14 gallon ¹ (63.65 liters) main fuel tank near the engine, and a second 8 gallon (36.37 liters) tank in the cockpit. Fuel had to be transferred forward by using a hand-operated pump. A 5 gallon (22.73 liters) tank for lubricating oil was adjacent to the main fuel tank.
Garros’ airplane maintained an average speed of 59.5 miles per hour (96 kilometers per hour) for this flight. The Morane-Saulnier G had a maximum speed of 76 miles per hour (122 kilometers per hour).
The Morane-Saulnier G was produced under license by Grahame-White Aviation Company, Hendon Aerodrome, London, England, and by Dux at Moscow, Russia. More than 150 Type Gs were built.
Roland Garros was born 6 October 1988 at Saint-Denis, Réunion (an island in the Indian Ocean). He was the son of Antoine Georges Garros and Maria Clara Emma Faure Garros. Garros was a racer and test pilot who had set many aviation records, including a Fédération Aéronautique Internationale World Altitude Record of 5,610 meters (18,406 feet), set 11 September 1912 at Saint-Brieuc, France. ²
Garros flew in World War I as a fighter pilot for France and shot down a total four enemy airplanes. Garros’ airplane went down behind enemy lines and he was captured, 18 April 1915. He escaped nearly three years later and returned to France. For his military service, he was promoted to Officier de la Légion d’honneur, 6 March 1917. He was also awarded the Croix de Guerre.
Lieutenant d’infantrie Eugène Adrien Roland Georges Garros, Officier de la Légion d’honneur, Aéronautique Militaire, flying a SPAD S.XIII C.1, Nº. 15403, was shot down by the German ace, Leutnant Hermann Habich, near Vouziers, France, 5 October 1918. He was killed one day before his 30th birthday.
Stade Roland Garros in Paris, the tennis stadium where the French Open is held, was named in honor the pioneering aviator.
¹ Fuel and oil capacities from a British publication, so quantities are presumably Imperial gallons.