A week after its introduction, the Fokker EI claimed its first victims today. Leutnant Kurt Wintgens, flying the production prototype Fokker EI (E.5/15) shot down a French aircraft today – the first victory achieved using a synchronised machine gun in the war. Wintgens is flying one of the three prototypes delivered to the front but is the first to achieve a victory.
Wintgens report reads as follows:
“I had flown to the Front a couple of times without seeing an opponent, until yesterday evening when the big moment came. Time – 1800 hrs. Place – east of Luneville. Altitude – between 2000 and 2500 metres. Suddenly I notice a monoplane in front of me, about 300 metres higher than 1. In the next moment he dived down on me, firing his machine gun intensely. But as I, at once, dived in the opposite direction under him, he missed wildly. After four attacks I reached his altitude in a large turn, and now my machine gun did some talking. I attacked at such a close distance that we looked each other in the face. ‘After my third attack he did the most stupid thing that he could do – he fled. I turned the crate and had him in my sights at once, beautifully. Rapid fire for about four seconds, and down went his nose. I could follow him until 500 metres, then, unfortunately, I was fired upon from the ground too hotly, the fight having taken place far over the French lines.”
The French aircraft was a Morane-Saulnier Type L from Escadrille M.S.48, flown by Capitaine Paul du Peuty, with Sous-Lieutenant de Boutiny as the observer. The French aircraft was armed with only a carbine. During the combat, both de Peuty and de Boutiny were wounded in the leg. Despite their injuries, the French aircrew landed their Morane Parasol safely, in friendly territory. [At the time of the victory, Wintgens was not credited because the aircraft landed in enemy territory and could not be confirmed.]
On the outbreak of war Wintgens went from Military School to the Eastern Front as a leutnant and won the Iron Cross, 2nd Class. He then transferred to the German Air Service, as an observer. In early 1915 he entered pilot training at the Fokker school in Schwerin. At this time, Leutnant Otto Parschau was working with Fokker on the Development of the EI. Wintgens specifically requested the chance “to fly in the field the smallest and fastest Fokker type with the Garros-installation” and was selected, along with Leutnant Parschau, as one of the first Fokker EI pilots. Wintgens is one of the very few frontline military fighter pilots to be allowed to glasses while flying in combat.