1 April 1915 – Roland Garros – first true fighter pilot

Frenchman Roland Garros became the first true fighter pilot today when he shot down a German plane using a machine gun firing through the propeller arc. Frustrated by the problems of attacking ememy aircraft, he worked with engineers at the Moraine-Saulnier Aircraft Works to develop a system of deflector wedges to deflect bullets from the propellor. He spent three months designing and testing various shapes to perfect the design and then had the wedges fitted to his own Moraine Saulnier Type L aircraft.

Flying from Dunkirk, he encountered a German Taube near Dixmude. The two planes duelled for about 10 minutes before Garros scored the vital hit. The Taube caught fire at about 3000ft and then crashed in flames. The unlucky crew were Gfr A Spatcholz and Ltn W Grosskopf.

Deflector Wedges. Roland Garros

Roland Garros was already a well know aviator having started his aviation career in 1909 flying a Demoiselle (Dragonfly) monoplane. He gained Ae.C.F. licence no. 147 in July 1910. In 1911 Garros entered a number of European air races flying Blériot monoplanes, including the 1911 Paris to Madrid air race and the Circuit of Europe (Paris-London-Paris), in which he came second. In September he established a new world altitude record of 5,610m (18,410 ft). By 1913 he had switched to flying the faster Morane-Saulnier monoplanes, and made the first non-stop flight across the Mediterranean Sea from Fréjus in the south of France to Bizerte in Tunisia.

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One thought on “1 April 1915 – Roland Garros – first true fighter pilot

  1. Pingback: 18 April 1915 – Roland Garros captured | airwar19141918

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