Known as the Eagle of Lille, Max Immelmann was a Leutnant(Lieutenant) in the German Airforce. He was one of the first German flying aces. Immelman is credited with shooting down at least 15 enemy war planes during World War I.
Leutnant Max Immelmann was born on 21 September 1890 to an industrialist father. His father died when Max was only 7 years old. Max joined the army in 1905 but left in 1912 to pursue a degree in Mechanical Engineering. However, after the start of World War I he joined the military again as an aviator.
Facts about Leutnant Immelman:
- He scored his first aerial victory on 1st August 1915 after shooting down a british aircraft. The British plane piloted by Lieutenant William Reid of the RAF, crash landed into German territory. Immelmann noticed this and landed near Reid. He then got out of his plane and went and shook hands with Reid. He then gave Reid first aid and took him prisoner.
- In June 1915 Immelmann was shot down by a French pilot. He was able to crash land the plane safely. The Germans awarded him with the ‘Iron Cross’ military medal for saving his plane.
- He flew the Fokker Eindecker aircraft, which was the first fighter plane Germany ever built.
- Max was also awarded the Pour le Mérite, the highest German Military award after he scored his 8th aerial victory. The medal was nicknamed the ‘Blue Max’ by his German comrades as a way of honoring Max Immelmann.
- Fellow pilot and German flying ace, Leutnant Oswald Boelcke was Immelmann’s friend and also his main rival in scoring aerial victories for Germany.
- He was known as the Eagle of Lille because he was the sole pilot responsible for defending the city of Lille during the war.
- Immelmann was an introvert by nature.
- He also had a pet dog, a grey German Mastiff named Tyras.
- The present German Airforce has nicknamed one of their active squadrons (AG-51 Squadron) as the ‘Immelmann Squadron’.
Leutnant Immelmann died on 18th June 1916 when his plane crashed after being shot down over the village of Sallaumines by a British fighter. However, there have been disputes over these claims by the Germans. Many Believe he crashed because of an aircraft failure. Some experts say, that given the technical problems faced by the Fokker warplanes at the time, it is quite possible that Immelmann crashed because of aircraft malfunction.
Timeline of Immelmann’s Aerial Victories:
- 1 August 1915
- 9 September 1915
- 21 September 1915
- 10 October 1915
- 26 October 1915
- 7 November 1915
- 15 December 1915
- 12 January 1916
- 2 March 1916
- 13 March 1916
- 13 March 1916
- 29 March 1916
- 30 March 1916
- 23 April 1916
- 16 May 1916
- 18 June 1916 (Unconfirmed Aerial Victory)