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World War One: Fokker Dr.1 Triplane Hans Kirschstein

At the beginning of the First World War, Kirschstein saw service in Poland and France with a Sapper unit (3.Pionier-Bataillon 'von Rauch'). By 1915 he was serving in Galicia where he contracted malaria. After his recovery he was sent back to Germany, and was then returned to the Western Front, were he served until May 1917 when he transfereed to the air service.


Hans Kirschstein (1896-1918)






05 August 1896, Koblenz


16 July 1918, Near Magneaux (flying accident)


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HansAs with many airmen, he initially flew two-seaters (and even flew a bombing raid on Dover), but in March 1918 he joined Jasta 6 as a fighter pilot. By the end of May he'd scored 16 victories, and this was increased to 27 by the 24th of June, on which day he was awarded the Pour le Mérite.

Kirschstein is reported to have been rebuked by Manfred von Richthofen at one point after downing two enemy aircraft. After the victories had been reported, Richthofen discovered a bullet hole in the tail of Kirschstein's aircraft. Aware of the fact that Richthofen did not tolerate his pilots allowing themselves to be shot at, Kirschstein was highly embarrassed, and was told:

"Your two kills were respectable, but they mustn't be bought by shots in the back! Obviously you were lucky and came across bunnies. Any decent flyer would have clearly laid you flat on the lawn. Mark it with rings and be proud of it! Know it! Did it once the same way!..."

Dr.1By 16 May 1918, Jasta 6, had been re-equipped with the Fokker D.VII, which Kirschstein painted in the same manner as the Dr.1. On the 9th June the commanding officer (Janzen) was shot down and taken prisoner, and Kirschstein took over command of the unit. However, like many Jasta 6 COs, Kirschstein was not long in the job -- 16 July 1918 he and Leutnant Johannes Markgraf were killed in an accident flying a Hannover CLII at Magneux, near Fismes. It was later determined that Markgraf had never previously flown a Hannover.

A great story regarding one of Kirschstein's more famous victories can be found on the Wing And A Prayer page at: http://www.leachintl.com/heritage/heritage-8-99.html

The diagonal stripes on the aircraft were designed (by Kirschstein) to put attacking pilots off their aim. The idea was that enemy pilots would try an sight along the lines, thinking they ran parallel with the wings and fuselage, which would cause them to aim in the wrong place or with the wrong deflection. The markings on the aircraft prompted Kirschstein to call his aircraft 'the optical illusion'.

After Kirschstein's death, Dr.1 586/17 was flown by Lt. Ernst Udet, who, with 62 aerial victories was second only to Manfred von Richthofen in the German Air Force.


WW1 dogfight re-enactment with several triplanes, including that of Hans Kirschstein.


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