[WWI] A quick markings question

Kerry Lynn kerlyn2001 at verizon.net
Fri Jan 26 22:28:02 EST 2018

On 1/26/18 7:25 PM, Shane Weier wrote:

> >Unless its Navarre and verdun, The whole unit and personal markings would be for 
> other aircraft.
> Which is an acute observation. AIr combat happens in _three_ 
> dimensions.  Even a turning duel exposes the undersides of a banking 
> aircraft to others at the same level who might be tempted to a 
> deflection shot. Better it be made clear from every direction just who 
> is who.
Greg VanWyngarden has a couple of Osprey titles that discuss Jasta B
planes and pilots.  The profiles are by Harry Dempsey and, as usual,
none show the undersides of aircraft.  However, there's an interesting
passage in /Jagdstaffel 2 'Boelcke'/ on pages 88-90 about the genesis
of unit markings:

"... It will be noted that Bäumer's Dr I 204/17 had a large Iron Cross
insignia painted on the horizontal stabiliser, along with most of the
triplanes in /Jasta/ 36 and possibly (initially) Papenmeyer's Dr I 214/17.
It would seem that the other German pilots had mistakenly attacked
some of the triplanes in the 4. /Armee/, and these additional markings
were an attempt to improve their recognition.  Josef Jacobs later

' As the Fokker Dr I came into service over the Front, they were often
thought to be British Sopwith Triplanes by inexperienced German
pilots who often "had a go" at a Fokker Dr I in the heat of battle. The
most critical time was in the late afternoon and early evening, when
the surface of the upper wings and the fuselage strongly reflected the
light, making it nearly impossible to distinguish the national markings.'

In any case, most of the national insignia on tailplanes were over-
painted when the /Jasta/ 'Boelcke' unit markings were applied.  Since the
beginning of 1918, the old unit insignia of white tails had been changed
to half white/half black tails, with the centre line of the fuselage being
the demarcation point.  The new black and white colours of the /Jasta
/were also applied to the cowlings in distinctive style.  This permitted the
aircraft of /Jasta/ 'Boelcke' to be identified from any angle, especially in
large /Jagdgeschweder/ formations.  For similar reasons, each of the
/Staffeln/ in JG III were identified by coloured cowlings (along with other
unit markings) ..."

 From this, it seems the initial threat was being jumped from above by
green pilots.  Yet the "from any angle" comment might imply the tail
undersides were painted as well as the cowlings.

Perhaps there's a decal sheet that shows what the consensus view of
earlier researchers might be?

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