Godwin Brumowski - History of World War I - WW1 - The Great War

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World War 1 Picture - The grave of Godwin Brumowski at Zentralfriedhof in Vienna, Austria.

Godwin Brumowski Information

Godwin Brumowski

Place of birth: Wadowice, Galicia
Place of death: Schiphol, Netherlands
Allegiance: Austria-Hungary
Rank: Hauptmann
Unit: Flik 1, 12, 41J (LFT) Jasta 24 (GAS)
Awards: Order of the Iron Crown, Order of Leopold, Medal for Bravery, Military Merit Medal, Iron Cross

Flik 1, 12, 41J (LFT)

Godwin Brumowski (26 July 1889 - 3 June 1936) was the most successful fighter ace of the Austro-Hungarian Air Force during World War I. He was officially credited with 35 air victories, (including 12 shared with other pilots) with 8 others unconfirmed because they fell behind Allied lines. Brumowski rose to command of all his country’s fighter aviation fighting Italy on the Isonzo front.

Life before entry into air service

Brumowski was born into a military family in Wadowice, Galicia, in what is now Poland. He attended the Technical Military Academy in Vienna and graduated as a leutnant (second lieutenant) on 18 August 1910. He was serving in the 6th Artillery Division and had just turned 25 when war was declared against Serbia on 28 July 1914. He served on the Eastern front against Russia, winning both a Bronze and Silver Military Medal for Bravery before transferring to air service in der kaiserliche und kx¶nigliche Luftfahrtruppen (the Imperial and Royal Aviation Troops).

Aerial Service

He was posted to Fliegerkompagnie 1 (abbreviated Flik 1) in July 1915; his flight log describes him as 1.77 meters (5 feet 10 inches) tall, with blue eyes and light blond hair. He was assigned as Hauptmann Otto Jindra’s observer.

On 12 April 1916 Jindra was his pilot when Brumowski participated in his first daring act in his new unit; they bombed a military review attended by Czar Nicholas II. In the process, they shot down two of the seven Russian Morane-Saulnier Parasol two-seaters that attempted to drive them off.

On 3 July 1916 Brumowski became a pilot with Flik 1, despite the defective vision in his right eye that he corrected with a monocle. In November, he transferred to Flik 12 on the Italian Front. He helped down an Italian Caproni bomber on 3 December. On 2 January he became an ace when he was victorious over an Italian Farman two-seater while piloting a Hansa-Brandenburg C.I. It is notable that Brumowski became an ace while still flying two-seater craft basically unsuited for air to air combat.

The next month, when Flik 41J was established on the Italian Front as Austro-Hungary’s first dedicated fighter squadron, Brumowski was chosen to command it. He spent nine days in March flying four sorties with the Germans of Jagdgstaffel 24 to learn German fighter tactics, before assuming his command. While here he met the Red Baron, Manfred von Richthofen; Brumowski would later copy the baron's aircraft paint scheme for his own plane.

Brumowski continued amassing victories through May, ending the month with a total of eight. By now, he was flying a single seat fighter, the Hansa-Brandenburg D.I. Although better suited for air to air combat than the C.1, it still suffered three major disadvantages: the pilot's vision was partially obstructed, the single machine gun was not synchronized to fire through the propeller arc., and it was a tricky craft to fly because it was easy to spin. at any altitude. Aiming and firing a gun mounted above and ahead of the pilot was more difficult than simply aiming the airplane at the enemy and firing a synchronized gun.

As was customary with Austro-Hungarian units, Flik 41j had a assortment of aircraft types available. In June 1917 Brumowski flew an Avatik D.I with no combat success. The Austro-Hungarian Fliks were also hampered by a doctrine that tied them to escort of reconnaissance aircraft instead of freeing them to rove and hunt in the German fashion.

In July 1917 Flik 41J lost eleven of the D.I fighters in accidents; the Hansa-Brandenburg's nickname became "the flying coffin".

In August 1917 Brumowski scored a remarkable streak of victories, being credited with 12 confirmed and 6 unconfirmed kills between the 10 and 28 August. Two of these victories, on the 19th and 20th, were the result of a partial transition to a newer fighter plane, a German Albatros D.III with twin synchronized guns. On the 20th he scored once with the Albatros and twice with the Hansa-Brandenburg D.I. By the end of August the transition was complete; he would use the Albatros to score the rest of his "kills". He added a telescopic sight to the gun on his Albatros.

On 9 October 1917 he shot down and burned an observation balloon for his 22nd victory; it was the first of five balloons he would down. His Albatros that day was painted all red, in emulation of von Richthofen, with the addition of mustard colored skulls on either side of the fuselage. This paint scheme would become characteristic of his aircraft until war’s end.

On 1 February 1918 Brumowski became involved in a fight with eight enemy fighters. Some of the 26 bullets striking his Albatros ignited his fuel tank. He managed to land at his home field without serious injury, becoming a rare survivor of an in-craft fire. The fire ate the fabric off the upper wing and the inboard portions of the lower one, leaving scorched bare struts.

Three days later, while flying another Albatros he fought eight English fighters and took multiple machine gun hits. With his wings breaking up he still managed to land, though the Albatros flipped over and was totally destroyed.

Brumowski fought on until 23 June 1918, when he was ordered on extended leave. His last successful fight was on 19 June; he scored his 35th victory and suffered 37 hits in his plane. He had flown 439 combat sorties, but his combat career was ended.

Also on 23 June he was invited by Generaloberst (Colonel-General) Ferdinand to make the customary mandatory application for Austria-Hungary's highest decoration, the Knight's Cross of the MIlitary Order of Maria Theresa. Brumowski's reply: "If I have earned this award through my service, then it should be cause enough for the Commander in Chief to present it to me. It is not my duty to ask or demand it." Austria-Hungary's leading fighter ace never received his nation's highest award.

On 11 October even though he was still only a Hauptmann (Captain), he was named to command all Austro-Hungarian fighter squadrons on the Isonzo Front. World War I ended a month later.

Post war career

World War 1 Picture - The grave of Godwin Brumowski at Zentralfriedhof in Vienna, Austria.

Picture - The grave of Godwin Brumowski at Zentralfriedhof in Vienna, Austria.

Brumowski farmed his mother-in-law’s land in Transylvania for ten years. A city dweller lacking the Hungarian language skills to communicate with his workers bore serious handicaps. He had little success.

He then left his wife and daughter and began a flying school in Vienna in 1930, and remarried.

During the early 1930s Brumowski piloted aircraft on behalf of the conservative Heimwehr militia. During the brief Austrian Civil War in 1934 he flew several reconnaissance missions as well as a single combat sortie.

He died in a plane crash while instructing a student at Schipol Airfield, in Holland.

His life was summarized thus by his daughter: "He was a very unique and interesting person either very much loved, or hated, and even considered crazy by many."

Awards and decorations

Order of the Iron Crown, 3rd Class, with War Decoration
Knight’s Cross of the Order of Leopold with War Decorations and Swords
Gold Bravery Medal for Officers

Austro-Hungarian Aces of World War 1. Christopher Chant. Osprey Publishing, 2002. ISBN 1841763764, 9781841763767 ( A near duplicate of Air Aces of the Austro-Hungarian Empire 1914-1918.)

Air Aces of the Austro-Hungarian Empire 1914-1918. Martin Dr. O'Connor. Flying Machines Pr, 1995. ISBN 0963711016, 9780963711014 (A near duplicate of Austro-Hungarian Aces of World War 1.)

Aces and Aircraft of World War I. Christopher Campbell. Published by Blandford Press, 1981. ISBN 0713709545, 9780713709544

Balloon-Busting Aces of World War 1. Jon Guttman, Harry Dempsey. Osprey Publishing, 2005. ISBN 1841768774, 9781841768779

Austro-Hungarian Army Aircraft of World War One. Peter M. Grosz, George Haddow, Peter Schiemer. Flying Machines Press, 1993. ISBN 0963711008, 9780963711007


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Source: WikiPedia

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