Otto Esswein

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Otto Esswein
Born 3 March 1890
Waiblingen, Kingdom of Württemberg
Died 21 July 1918(1918-07-21) (aged 28)
Vicinity of Hartennes-et-Taux
Allegiance Germany
Service/branch Aviation
Rank Offizierstellvertreter
Unit Jagdstaffel 26
Awards Military Merit Cross, Iron Cross First and Second Class, Württemberg's Military Merit Order in both Gold and Silver[clarification needed]

Offizierstellvertreter Otto Esswein was a World War I flying ace credited with twelve aerial victories.[1][2]

Early life

Otto Esswein was born in Waiblingen, in the Kingdom of Württemberg within the German Empire, on 3 March 1890.[1]

Aviation service

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.[2] He was then slightly wounded in the right eye on 27 November.[1]

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.[2] 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[1] over Hartennes-et-Taux, France.[2]

Sources of information

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Franks et al 1993, pp. 105-106.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 The Aerodrome website's page on Esswein Retrieved on 14 April 2010.