Air Aces of World War One

Leutnant Otto Parschau – German Ace 1890/1916

Parschau was born in Klausen ( now Klutznick. Poland, in the Allenstein district of East Prussia. He became a commissioned officer a year after having joined the Infanterie Regiment No.151 in 1910. Parschau was trained as a pilot in Johannisthal, Darmstadt and Hanover, receiving his pilot’s licence on the 4th of July 1913.

Upon the outbreak of hostilities in August 1914, Parschau was already serving with the Luftstreitkrafte, and soon found himself flying two-seaters on the Champagne front and then in Flanders and Alsace-Lorraine before being posted to West Prussia and Galicia on the Eastern front.

Parschau was assigned the Fokker A.III aircraft bearing both the Fokker factory serial No. 216 and the Idflieg military serial No.A 16/15. This aircraft had been previously flown by Oberleutnant Waldemar von Buttlar. This unarmed monoplane had been privately purchased in 1913 by von Buttlar. It was requisitioned by the Fliegertruppe and von Buttlar was commissioned as an officer in the German Army at the outbreak of hostilities.

The aircraft was painted in a shade of green that was the same as that used by von Buttlar’s previous Marburg Jager Regiment No.11. Parschau had served with the same, Breiftauben – Abteilung Ostende unit, abbreviated as BAO in German military communications of the time, in Belgium as Oberleutnant von Buttlar did in November 1914. As A 16/15 still bore the same green colour as von Buttler’s old unit, the aircraft became distinctive as Parschau’s ‘Green Machine’ right from the outbreak of World War One.

Parschau flew this machine on a roving commission for nearly a year, serving with FFA’s 22 and 42 and the aforementioned BAO unit, which was a group of four FFA units operating as one for the Oberste Heeresleitung or OHL the German Army’s High Command Office. In May 1915, this machine was the first to be fitted with a workable synchronisation gear; The Fokker Stangensteuerung synchroniser along with a Parabellum MG14 machine gun for its armamant. This aircraft functioned as the prototype Fokker Eindekker for Parschau’s use and combat evaluation.

Because Parschau was recognised as an experienced and proficient pilot, he was selected to go to Feldflieger Abtielung 62 as an instructor on monoplanes. Amongst Parschau’s students at the FFA were the notable pioneer flying aces Oswald Boelcke and Max Immelmann. Despite Parschau’s earlier complaints about his machine gun jamming, he managed to reel off a string of six victories over enemy aircraft between the 11th of October 1915 and the 2nd of July 1916 as part of the Fokker Scourge. on the 3rd of July 1916 he shot down an enemy observation balloon.

In July 1916 he transferred to FFA 32, gaining his 8th victory on the 9th of July 1916. He was awarded the Pour le Merite on the following day. On the 21st of July 1916 Parschau was mortally wounded in a combat with the Royal Flying Corps over Grevilliers. The fatal wound was to the chest, he also suffered a glancing bullet wound to the head, possibly from rounds fired by Capt. John Oliver Andrews. He retained enough control to safely land his aircraft behind German lines. He was rushed to hospital but died on the operating table.

(C) Damian Grange 2020

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