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100th anniversary of the first air-to-air victory
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Joseph Frantz & Louis Quenault

It was on the 5th of October, 1914, that French Sergeant Joseph Frantz and Corporal Louis Quenault managed to achieve the honour of being the first aviators to shoot down an enemy aircraft with gunfire. Frantz was piloting the aircraft, while his mechanician and gunner, Quenault, was shooting the enemy. Onboard of their Voisin III, they engaged the German Aviatik I on their way back after taking off from Lhéry and bombarding enemy troops over Fort Brimont with six 90mm hand-dropped shells.

Voisin III

Frantz manage to approach the enemy aircraft without being noticed until the critical moment, Quenault was armed with a light machine gun, an Hotchkiss 8mm. He start firing on the Aviatik, piloted by Sergeant Wilhelm Schlichting and his observator, Oberleutnant Fritz von Zangen, first using small bursts then finaly switching to single shot until his machine gun jammed after only 47 shots fired. While he was trying to fix it, Quenault saw the german aircraft flipping over and subsequently heading for the ground, crashing and bursting in flames. All of the action was observed on the ground by General Franchet D’Esperey.

Aviatik B.I

Frantz was decorated with the 'Croix du Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur' for his action, later became a test pilot for the Voisin company and also founded the 'Pionniers' magazine. His career achievements as a pilot are impressive: 8000 hours of flight, 62 years of straight service. He died on 12th of September 1979.

For this historical achievement and to honour the victors and the fallen, there is now a memorial at Jonchery-sur-Vesle, in French, about the first air-to-air victory involving gunfire in the history of mankind.

The War Thunder Team

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