I spent the weekend just gone with my father in law at Canberra. Noel likes to watch the History Channel and on Friday night we watched a story on the development of fighter planes in WW1. I was amazed to learn that WW1 pilots did not take parachutes with them when they went up, it was looked on as being cowardly, with the result that most pilots who were shot down were killed. On average WW1 pilots lasted for 60 hours flying time. (One pilot always took a pistol up with him. When asked what he hoped to do with it in a dogfight, he said that it wasn’t for the enemy, it was for himself, especially if his plane ended up on fire.)
The program had a fair bit of detail about the development of the tri-planes, the more manouverable planes with 3 wings made famous by Baron Manfred von Richtofen and his Flying Circus. Von Richtofen was credited with 80 kills but was himself brought down over the Somme by a .303 bullet to the heart and lungs, generally now acepted to have been fired by Australian ground troops. He managed to land his plane in a field.
His last word was “Kaput!”
According to the dictionary, “kaput” is German for “broken and useless; no longer working or effective.”