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Fritz Rumey - A WW1 German Flying Ace

An NCO pilot who was probably a better ace than The Red Baron

Fritz Rumey, a First World War German flying ace shot down more enemy fighter aircraft in his short flying career than The Red Baron did. Rumey scored a total of 35 victories against fighters while von Richthofen's total score of 80 only included 29 single-seat fighters (excluding five single seat B.E.12's which were modified two-seat B.E.2's).

The Vintage Aviator Ltd's stunning Albatros D.Va reproduction is finished in the 'Demons Head' colour scheme of one of the aircraft that Rumey used during his flying career.  Photo Copyright © James Fahey

Before WW1 started, Fritz Rumey was an infantryman with the 45th Infantry regiment. After hostilities commenced he saw action against the Russians on the Eastern Front and was decorated with the Iron Cross 2nd class.

In August 1915 he applied for aviation duty and completed an observer's course and served with Fliegerabteilung (Artillerie) 219. Later he was accepted for pilot training and when this was completed in early 1917 he was sent to France where he served for a brief period with Jasta Boelcke. In June 1917 he trtansferred to Jagdstaffel 5 where he served as a Vizefeldwebel, along with Josef Mai and Otto Könnecke. These three NCO pilots often flew together and scored 40% of the squadron's successes, and they collectively became known as "The Golden Triumvirate".

With 29 victories to his credit, Leutnant Rumey received the coveted Pour le Mérite in July 1918. This made him one of only five pilots to have received both this award and the Golden Military Merit Cross.

This video shows Rumey's 'Demons Head' Albatros D.Va flying above the clouds on a brilliant day, showing what the First World War's air campaign would have really looked like (i.e. in colour, not black and white).

Rumey died in late September 1918 after jumping from his damaged machine. His parachute failed to open correctly, and the 27-year-old ace plummeted to the ground from an altitude of around 1000 feet.

His total final score of 45 victories meant that he had a 3.5:1 ratio of fighter to two-seater victories, compared with the 0.57:1 ratio scored by Manfred von Richthofen (The Red Baron).

Text by James Fahey

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