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There's a scene in the WW1 film "Ace's High" were the pilots attack a balloon. In it German pilots rise to defend the balloon.

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The most effective device against V1's was convincing the Germans to aim away from London by passing on false target information.

As for WWI balloons there were also protected by ground AA as well.

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I wonder if WW1 balloons could have been destroyed by some sort of munition (incendiary ?) deployed on the end of a cable and pulled along by the aircraft, in which case the aircraft would overfly the balloon with the intention of striking it with the tethered incendiary device. Something like a rope impregnated with fuel might work as the munition. Even better would be if you could electronically ignite it via the cable, so you can set it off on approach at the correct time.

It sounds a little Churchillian.

Edited by KV7
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It would probably work, but if you did that, you are leaving the aircraft marginal in performance to excape from Flak or fighter aircraft that would be sure to be protecting the balloon.

I seem to recall there were attempts to mount light rockets on aircraft to use against observation balloons, that worked after a fashion. It wouldnt work against Zeppelins probably, because again, they flew so high and the performance of WW1 fighter aircraft was marginal at altitude. They did use incendary rounds against them, and that eventually proved reasonably effective.

 

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Observation balloon crews were also the only aircrew equipped with parachutes in WWI.  The canopies were draped over the sides of the gondola, so all the crew had to do was jump.

 

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54 minutes ago, Stuart Galbraith said:

It would probably work, but if you did that, you are leaving the aircraft marginal in performance to excape from Flak or fighter aircraft that would be sure to be protecting the balloon.

I seem to recall there were attempts to mount light rockets on aircraft to use against observation balloons, that worked after a fashion. It wouldnt work against Zeppelins probably, because again, they flew so high and the performance of WW1 fighter aircraft was marginal at altitude. They did use incendary rounds against them, and that eventually proved reasonably effective.

 

You would ideally have a mechanism for rewinding the wire, and for jettisoning it as well. On approach the wire would be unwound, deploying the munition, which would then be set alight. By the time of the the expiry of the munition, it could be automatically jettisoned by a structure at the head of the munition designed to burn away or melt after some time. The cable, now with no more than a stub of the old munition, could then be rewound, and another munition fitted for a second pass if desired.

In order to improve lethality, the 'incendiary sausage' could have protruding hooks designed to snare it on the balloon surface. Between the mounting bracket and the munition could be some weakened piece of wire, designed to snap when the munition is ensnared, saving the main wire and the aircraft from being overloaded by the jolt.

Edited by KV7
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Yes, but think about it. Not only are you carrying maybe a several pound munition, you are carrying several hundred feet of wire, a drum to put it on, and presumably an electric motor to hoist it all in. This is an aircraft so light that could easily be carried away in a high wind. Its just too much to carry and leave it with anything more than very marginal performance.

Yeah, I guess if you were using a HP 0400 its less of a problem, but hanging it on even something like a Bristol fighter is going to be a real issue.

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On the other hand, you might just fly up alongside and shoot a Very pistol at it. Just as practicable... which is to say, not (ahem) Very.

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I am a little surprised that Stuart, who seems to have a fondness for British oddities like HESH, is unconvinced. I mean this has all the eccentricity of the Unrotated Projectile with the addition of an incendiary sausage. It is delicious crankery.
 

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3 hours ago, DB said:

On the other hand, you might just fly up alongside and shoot a Very pistol at it. Just as practicable... which is to say, not (ahem) Very.

You are on a roll lately, Dave! You are risking Shep feeling competitive and going to turn up the pun-ishment.

Back on the thread, WWI planes were notably flammable, and any incident with some kind of towed incendiary device could end bad.

I think this idea is going down in flames.

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2 hours ago, KV7 said:

I am a little surprised that Stuart, who seems to have a fondness for British oddities like HESH, is unconvinced. I mean this has all the eccentricity of the Unrotated Projectile with the addition of an incendiary sausage. It is delicious crankery.
 

Let's put it this way, I've little doubt it would make a superior episode of 'Stop the Pigeon'.😁

 

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6 hours ago, Stuart Galbraith said:

It would probably work, but if you did that, you are leaving the aircraft marginal in performance to excape from Flak or fighter aircraft that would be sure to be protecting the balloon.

I seem to recall there were attempts to mount light rockets on aircraft to use against observation balloons, that worked after a fashion. It wouldnt work against Zeppelins probably, because again, they flew so high and the performance of WW1 fighter aircraft was marginal at altitude. They did use incendary rounds against them, and that eventually proved reasonably effective.

 

Method of use

Yves Le Prieur

The rockets were fired electrically from the interplane struts supporting the wings of biplanes via a cockpit switch. The switch launched all the rockets consecutively. The rockets were generally fired at a range of 100–150 metres with the aircraft at an inclined dive angle of 45 degrees. The steeper the dive the straighter the trajectory and the more accurate the attack. Attacks were made in the direction of the length of the balloon and against the wind, the pilot taking aim via the plane's existing gun-sight. However, the ignition and discharge of each rocket did not occur immediately and a delay varied slightly from one rocket to another. Thus the pilot had to continue to hold the target in his gun-sight and the dive continued until the last rocket discharged.

It successfully brought down observation balloons, but never managed to bring down a Zeppelin, although it was used to defend the United Kingdom from Zeppelin raids.

Amongst users of the rockets were United Kingdom,] France, Belgium and Germany. After planes became equipped with tracer rounds and incendiary bullets which were highly effective against hydrogen filled aerostats, the rockets were gradually abandoned through 1918. Aircraft that were armed with the rockets included the B.E.2/B.E.12, Sopwith Baby/Pup/Camel, Nieuport 11/16/17, SPAD 7/13 and the Farman HF.20/21. They were usually armed with eight rockets but the B.E.12 had ten and the SPAD 7 had six.

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6 hours ago, shep854 said:

Observation balloon crews were also the only aircrew equipped with parachutes in WWI.  The canopies were draped over the sides of the gondola, so all the crew had to do was jump.

 

Germany developed a parachute for its fighter aircraft by 1918.

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10 hours ago, Tim Sielbeck said:

Germany developed a parachute for its fighter aircraft by 1918.

As far as Im aware, like the UK, they were not allowed to use them. It was believed that having a parachute would 'Impair a pilots nerve', when of course as it turned out, the reverse was true.

OTOH, you wonder what the performance issues would result from carrying an early parachute would have been. And judging by orders to shoot balloon observers in their parachutes and the general flamability of WW1 combat aircraft, it was hardly a guaranteed life saver anyway.

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During WW1 were British or German pilots allowed to shoot enemy pilots if they were descending to the ground in a parachute? I know by WW2 they weren't.

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5 hours ago, Stuart Galbraith said:

As far as Im aware, like the UK, they were not allowed to use them. It was believed that having a parachute would 'Impair a pilots nerve', when of course as it turned out, the reverse was true.

OTOH, you wonder what the performance issues would result from carrying an early parachute would have been. And judging by orders to shoot balloon observers in their parachutes and the general flamability of WW1 combat aircraft, it was hardly a guaranteed life saver anyway.

Heinecke Parachute: A Leap of Faith for WWI German Airmen (historynet.com)

Udet bailed out once, first German pilot use in combat in April 1918.  The article says reliability problems with the chutes that had to be solved.  British Flying Corps started using chutes in September 1918, France and the US did not allow them.

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1 hour ago, TrustMe said:

...I know by WW2 they weren't.

Did not stop some.

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The Americans fully admitted they did some. I think the consensus was, if they were descending over allied lines, they were off limits because they would become a prisoner of war. But if it was behind German lines, they were open season. Not much sense in letting a fully trained Luftwaffe pilot survive, who could then draw a new aircraft and possibly shoot you down.

Its worth mentioning that at least one British Battle of Britain pilot was found riddled in this fashion, so they seemed to subscribe to the same philosophy.

1 hour ago, glenn239 said:

Heinecke Parachute: A Leap of Faith for WWI German Airmen (historynet.com)

Udet bailed out once, first German pilot use in combat in April 1918.  The article says reliability problems with the chutes that had to be solved.  British Flying Corps started using chutes in September 1918, France and the US did not allow them.

I can guarantee the British Flying Corps was not using parachutes in September 1918. It was the Royal Air Force since April that  same year.

Germany reportedly used them in the last 6 weeks of the war. Ive read absolutely nothing that suggests the RAF was using them before the mid 1920's, and Alan Clarks book 'Aces High' seems to be pretty clear on this point they did not use them in WW1.

OTOH, you can always trust Reddit instead if you wish.

 

 
 
level 2
RAF in WWII
3 years ago
 

You've covered the "why" quite splendidly (see also e.g. extensive correspondence in Flight magazine, such as a series of letters starting with [Lieut-Col H. S. Holt in January 1920] (https://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1920/1920%20-%200024.html) and continuing for some weeks debating the mechanics, practicality and terminology of early parachutes), just to put a date on the "when" it was 4th June 1925 that Air Ministry Order 359/1925 instructed parachutes to be issued to all squadrons and be worn at all times when flying, Numbers 12 and 25 Squadrons being the first to receive them. Pilot Officer Eric Pentland became the first RAF member of the Caterpillar Club (formed by Irvin in 1922 for people whose lives were saved by parachute) on 17th June 1926 when he baled out of an Avro 504K during training. (From The Royal Air Force Day by Day, Air Commodore Graham Pitchfork).

Edited by Stuart Galbraith
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2 hours ago, TrustMe said:

During WW1 were British or German pilots allowed to shoot enemy pilots if they were descending to the ground in a parachute? I know by WW2 they weren't.

I admit not made a great study of it, and ive only found this one account of someone admitting they did it, but the context suggests it was much more common than let on.

First World War

Targeting parachutists became an issue during the First World War when fighter pilots targeted manned enemy observation balloons. After shooting down a balloon, most pilots refrained from firing at the balloon observers as they escaped by parachute, because they felt it was inhumane and unchivalrous. The extension of this courtesy to enemy pilots began towards the end of the First World War when parachutes were provided for pilots of fixed-wing aircraft, but it was again widely perceived that once aircrew were forced to bail out of a damaged aircraft, presuming they did not offer any further resistance, they were considered to have been honorably defeated in battle and should not be "finished off".

By July 1918, German and Austro-Hungarian Air Force parachute escapes had become routine. The Heinecke chutes that German and Austro-Hungarian pilots received were not perfect and sometimes failed to operate safely. Some were destroyed by fire before they could open, and occasionally pilots faced the peril of being shot at by Entente fighters. British flying ace James Ira T. Jones had no compunction in doing this. "My habit of attacking Huns dangling from parachutes led to many arguments in the mess," he said. "Some officers of the Eton and Sandhurst type, thought it 'unsportsmanlike'. Never having been to a public school, I was unhampered by such considerations of 'form'. I just pointed out that there was a bloody war on, and that I intended to avenge my pals."[5]

 

International law

After World War I, a series of meetings were held at The Hague in 1922–1923. Based on the testimony of First World War pilots, a commission of jurists attempted to codify this practice with the Hague Rules of Air Warfare. Article 20 prescribed that:

When an aircraft has been disabled, the occupants when endeavoring to escape by means of parachute must not be attacked in the course of their descent.[2]

The Hague Rules of Air Warfare never came into force. There was no legal prohibition of targeting parachuting enemy airmen before or during World War II.[3] In 1949, as a result of widespread practices and abuses committed during World War II, the newly modified and updated versions of the Geneva Conventions came into force providing greater protections to protected persons, but there was still no explicit prohibition on the shooting of parachuting enemy combatants outside of their airborne duties. However, despite this, military manuals around the world issued prohibitions on attacking enemy aircrews parachuting from aircraft in distress. Paragraph 30 of the United States Army's Field Manual published by the Department of the Army, on July 18, 1956 (last modified on July 15, 1976), under the title "The Law of Land Warfare", states:

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attacks_on_parachutists

 

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So go ahead and look at it again. You can find a range of answers from saying April to the last 6 weeks of the war. What seems to be agreed  upon is they tried to phase it in, but didnt have enough Parachutes to go around, and there was still lots of pilots and crews without them right at the end of the war.

Is it really any surprise Germany gave parachutes to their best pilots first? No. But it wasnt common enough to be the rule.

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