|Born||3 March 1890
Waiblingen, Kingdom of Württemberg
|Died||21 July 1918
Vicinity of Hartennes-et-Taux
|Awards||Military Merit Cross, Iron Cross First and Second Class, Württemberg's Military Merit Order in both Gold and Silver[clarification needed]|
Esswein transferred from ground service to aviation in mid-1915. On 30 October 1917, he was assigned to Jasta 26. He scored his first victory, shooting down a Sopwith Camel on 15 November. He was then slightly wounded in the right eye on 27 November.
When he returned to the squadron in early 1918, a new Fokker Dr.I triplane awaited him. He used it to shoot down another Camel on 2 February, three more the next day, and two more British fighters on the 5th, one of which was the SE-5 of 84 Squadron's Lt. Cyril Ball, brother of English ace Albert Ball. By 26 March 1918, he was a double ace with ten victories. On 31 May, he increased his tally to a dozen with his two last victories. He was awarded the Military Merit Cross on 3 June 1918 to join his Iron Crosses, and later awarded his home kingdom's Military Merit Order in Gold and Silver. On 16 July, in one of the pioneer usages of a parachute, he successfully bailed out of his burning plane after being shot down attacking a balloon. Five days later he was unable to repeat the feat and was killed in action in another flaming aircraft over Hartennes-et-Taux, France.
Sources of information
- Franks et al 1993, pp. 105-106.
- The Aerodrome website's page on Esswein http://www.theaerodrome.com/aces/germany/esswein.php Retrieved on 14 April 2010.
- Franks, Norman; Bailey, Frank W.; Guest, Russell. Above the Lines: The Aces and Fighter Units of the German Air Service, Naval Air Service and Flanders Marine Corps, 1914–1918. Grub Street, 1993. ISBN 0-948817-73-9, ISBN 978-0-948817-73-1.
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