Air Aces of World War One

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Oberleutnant Frank Linke – Crawford – Austro – Hungarian Ace 1893 / 1918 Pt.3

  The Hansa- Brandenburg D.I had serious liabilities as a fighter plane, it spun easily, had poor forward visibility and its machine gun was mounted well above the pilot’s head on the top wing to fire clear of the propeller arc. It was nicknamed “The Flying Coffin” and was responsible for the deaths of more pilots in flying accidents than in combat.

Linke-Crawford’s switch to flying an Albatros D.III mounted him in a fighter that not only offered him a better field of vision, especially downward, but also armed him with twin Spandau machine guns in front of him that were synchronised to fire through the propeller arc. Flying the Albatros D.III he shot down a seaplane on the 23rd of September 1917 to become an Ace. Continuing to use the Albatros he ran up a score of 13 by the 13th of December. In late December 1917 Linke-Crawford was appointed commander of Fliegerkompagnie 60, This unit was stationed at Grigno in Northern Italy until March 1918, this airfield was located in a swampy mountainous basin and was prone to flooding. Flik 60j’s seven pilots flew against an opposition of Italian, French and British pilots.

Linke-Crawford’s aircraft in Flik 60j was a Phonix D.I, he used this slow but sturdy twin-gunned fighter to run up 7 more victories in the first three months of 1918. Flik 60 moved to Feltre, also in Northern Italy, this was a better airfield than Grigno. Linke -Crawford scored his last victory in a Phonix on the 11th of March 1918. aircraft of this type where still in the early phrases of development, and in mid-March he grounded all his Phonix fighters due to their increasing unreliability. Beginning on the 10th of May 1918 Linke-Crawford switched to an Aviatik (Berg) D.I at least five of his seven victories in this machine were over superior aircraft, such as the Sopwith Camel and the Bristol F2b Fighter. On July the 30th 1918, the day after his final victory, He was flying an early model Aviatik (Berg) D.I in a formation of four. He was shot down in flames by a pair of Italian Hanriot H.D.I’s. Linke – Crawford was the fourth ranking Austro – Hungarian Ace with a total score of 27 victories.

(C) Damian Grange 2019

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