Werner Voss (April 13, 1897 – September 23, 1917)
Leutnant Voss was a World War I German flying ace, and friend of the famous Red Baron. He was a brilliant and aggressive flyer, with a gift for mechanical engineering, often tinkering with his plane.
On September 23, 1917, he fought an epic, single-handed dogfight against several Allied aces. He fought the RFC biplanes for 10 minutes putting holes in each one. Using the triplane’s superior rate of climb and its ability to slip turn, Voss continually outflew his opponents. He was able to turn at high speeds and attack those behind him.
After flying past the British Capt. James McCudden, VC (28 March 1895–9 July 1918) in a head-on confrontation, Voss’s Fokker was hit with bullets on the starboard side. One round pierced his right side and passed through his lungs. Lt. Arthur Rhys-Davids (26 September 1897 – 27 October 1917) had attacked from behind and below. The German Fokker eventually fell and crashed into the British line.
Capt. James McCudden expressed sincere regret at Voss’s death; “His flying was wonderful, his courage magnificent and in my opinion he was the bravest German airman who it has been my privilege to see fight.”
Rhys-Davids, who himself fell in combat one month later, said to McCudden, “If I could only have brought him down alive.”
Voss’s triplane showing the symbol he painted on the underside
The Battle, recreated with a flight simulator, gives the viewer the sense of what it was like for young pilots in a ‘dogfight’.