Franz Gräser

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Franz Gräser
File:Gräser Ferenc.jpg
Born 26 October 1892
Nyírmada, Hungary
Died 17 May 1918
Allegiance Austro-Hungarian Empire
Service/branch Aviation
Rank Leutnant
Unit Flik 2, Flik 32, Flik 42J, Flik 61J
Awards Order of the Iron Crown, Order of Leopold, Silver Medal for Bravery

Leutnant Franz Gräser was a World War I flying ace credited with 18 aerial victories.

Gräser was a technical university student in Budapest until World War I broke out. In October 1914, he enlisted in Infanterieregiment No. 72, graduated reserve officer school in mid-July 1915, and began World War I as the commander of a machine gun unit on the Russian Front.[1] After being wounded, he transferred to K.u.K, the Austro-Hungarian air service. He was commissioned as an officer and assigned to observer duties in the rear seat of a reconnaissance aircraft in Flik 2. His skill with machine guns helped him to his first two victories, from the rear seat,[2] on 10 February and 20 May 1917.[3]

Like many observers, Gräser made the transition to becoming a pilot. Unlike just about anyone else, he did so without formal training. The feldwebel pilot who coached him thought he was a natural, but he never received any official training. Without ever being licensed as a pilot, Gräser began flying an Albatros D.III fighter for Flik 42J[4] beginning in September 1917.[5] His personal insignia of an owl on his plane was based in Baltic culture; an owl was considered a sign of death.[6] By the end of 1917, his score stood at 11, with number 11 being claimed on 5 December 1917.[7]

He resumed his victory roll on 26 January 1918 with Flik 61J. By the 23rd of March, he had run his total of wins up to 18 confirmed and one unconfirmed.[8] Most of his victories were over Italian pilots,[9] and his range of victims was wide; seaplanes, fighters, recon two-seaters, and balloons all fell before his guns.[10]

On 17 May 1918,[11] Gräser flew an escort mission, and was shot down in flames by several Italian aces, including Francesco Baracca, Antonio Chiri, Cesare Magistrini, and Gastone Novelli.[12][13]

Sources of information

  1. Austro-Hungarian Aces of World War 1. p. 67.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Retrieved 23 December 2009.
  3. Retrieved on 5 April 2010.
  4. Retrieved on 23 December 2009.
  5. Austro-Hungarian Aces of World War 1. p. 68.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Retrieved 23 December 2009.
  7. Retrieved on 23 December 2009.
  8. Retrieved on 23 December 2009.
  9. Retrieved 23 December 2009.
  10. Retrieved on 23 December 2009.
  11. Retrieved on 23 December 2009.
  12. Retrieved 23 December 2009.
  13. SPAD XII/XIII aces of World War I. p. 25.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

See also

List of World War I flying aces from Hungary


  • Austro-Hungarian Aces of World War 1 Christopher Chant. Osprey Publishing, 2002. ISBN 1-84176-376-4, ISBN 978-1-84176-376-7.
  • SPAD XII/XIII aces of World War I. Jon Guttman. Osprey Publishing, 2002. ISBN. 1841763160, 9781841763163.