Wednesday, November 9, 2011

U.S.A - 1918 The 9th Aero Squadron

Breguet 14 Aplenty

Once again I have got on an obsessive roll. After a lot of research I have found plenty of material for working up profiles of the Breguet 14a.2 and 14b.2. I decided to continue by posting examples which served in another aero squadron during 1918.

The 9th Aero Squadron U.S.A.S. & The Breguet 14 A2

During the closing days of WWI the 9th Aero Sqn spent a good deal of time conducting night reconnaissance. To reduce visibility of the aircraft when performing night missions, aircraft of the First and Second flights were painted in black.

In the postwar era the aircraft of the First Flight were decorated with a tooth filled mouth and eye reminiscent of an Orca. The unit insignia of searchlight beams which formed an “IX” were also added after the Armistice. This example carried an unusual pattern on its tail fin, the colors are conjectural.

The Second Flight marked their aircraft with a swastika on the fin. This aircraft carried the name “JIMMY” below the pilot's cockpit.

The Third Flight retained the original French five-color camouflage scheme, with red and white checks on the tail fin and tailplane. The profiles above depict the aircraft at two stages in its career. When the flight originally chose the red checkerboard theme, the checks were painted directly on the camouflaged tail fin. This aircraft is unique in that the aft fuselage also carried checks. Eventually the areas exposing the camouflage were filled in with white as seen in the second profile. One point of interest is the complete lack of all armament on this plane even the Scarff mount in the rear cockpit has been removed.

History of the 9th Bombardment Squadron

The 9th Bombardment Squadron began as the 9th Aero Squadron at Camp Kelly, Texas on 14 June 1917. World War I had begun in April of that year and the unit was targeted for overseas combat duty. Their first European stop was Winchester, England in December 1917. Following the holidays, the unit moved on to Grantham, England to train for combat flying the Sopwith Scout. After eight months of intensive training, the unit moved to the front in August 1918. While in Colombyles-Belles, France, the 9th was assigned to the 1st Army Observation Group. Also, after arrival in France, the unit began flying a new aircraft; the French Brequet 14. That aircraft would be used extensively to perform the unit's mission - night reconnaissance. By specializing in night reconnaissance, the 9th gained the unique distinction of being the first in the American Air Service to do so. However, their missions were not without danger. In one case, two of the 9th aircraft were engaged by seven enemy Fokkers. The 9th's aircraft not only shot down two German aircraft, but completed their photographic mission.

As the war progressed the unit participated in many night missions and battles. Most famous of those battles were the Battle of Lorraine, Battle of St. Michiel, and the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. For those, the unit earned their first battle streamers. After the war had drawn to a close, the unit was moved to Trier, Germany to serve as part of the occupation force under the Third Army on 5 December 1918.


No comments: