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Lanoe George Hawker was born on 30th December 1890 in Longparish, Hampshire. He was to become the first Fighter Ace of the British Commonwealth. He was known as a quiet unassuming man who was well liked. Originally an officer in the Royal Engineers, Hawker was not only a skilled and aggressive pilot but he was an innovator whose ideas greatly benefited the pilots who he served with and who followed him. Hawker was responsible for introducing new aids for combat pilots such as Ring Sights, fur-lined thigh boots, and a Rocking Fuselage for target practice.
Major Hawker was known as an aggressive pilot and had the motto “attack everything”. At Gontrode 19th April 1915 while flying a B.E.2c he attacked a German Zeppelin hangar by using bombs and hand grenades. He attacked at low level (below 200ft) and used a tethered German balloon which was manned to help shield him from enemy ground fire as he made his attacks, this earned him the DSO (Distinguished Service Order). Hawker with help from air mechanic Ernest Elton developed a machine gun mount for attaching a Lewis gun to a Bristol Scout. While testing this on 25th July 1915 he drove off one German aircraft and downed two others, despite all three enemy aircraft being machine gun armed and two seaters. For this he earned the VC (Victoria Cross) being the first pilot to earn a VC for aerial combat. He distinguished himself while in No 6 squadron but his command of No 24 squadron led it to become called Hawker’s Squadron and is regarded by some as Britain’s first real fighter squadron.
On the 23rd November 1916 while flying a D.H.2 he engaged an Albatros fighter behind enemy lines and was shot down and killed by Manfred von Richthofen, the 11th kill for the man who was to become the Red Baron. The dogfight was was of the longest recorded at that time and Richthofen’s machine guns jammed at the last minute but one of the last bullets fired hit Major Hawker in the head and he died instantly. Hawker had achieved 8 combat kills at that time
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