I had posted this to my WORLD WAR ONE collection recently and I shared this post with fellow Aviation Guild member Tanya Y. Today, she reported that she discovered the identity of this WWI German fighter ace. He is the “Black Knight” – Eduard-Maria Joseph Ritter von Schleich (August 9, 1888 – November 15, 1947), born Schleich, was a high scoring Bavarian flying ace of the First World War. He was credited with 35 aerial victories at the end of the war. During the Second World War he served in the Luftwaffe as a general.
Originally shared by Pete Panozzo
Pilot · Rare colour photo of a undisclosed German WW1 Fighter ace …
(He is wearing the Pour le Merite or “Blue Max” medal and his aircraft is an Albatros with a mauve and green lozenge camouflage pattern applied to the wings – Pete).
Update: Tanya Y. discovered the identity of this undisclosed German WWI Fighter ace! He is: Eduard-Maria Joseph Ritter von Schleich (August 9, 1888 – November 15, 1947), born Schleich, was a high scoring Bavarian flying ace of the First World War. He was credited with 35 aerial victories at the end of the war. During the Second World War he served in the Luftwaffe as a general.
While Schleich was recovering from his wounds of August 1914 he decided to volunteer for the Royal Bavarian Air Service and was accepted for training as an observer. After service with FEA 1 on two-seaters, he applied for pilot training and qualified in September 1915. In October 1915 he joined FA 2b, and in January 1916, during an observation flight, Schleich was wounded in the arm by an exploding anti-aircraft shell. Instead of returning to base, while still in the air he had his crewman bandage his wound and then completed his assignment. He was decorated with the Iron Cross First Class for this action. The wound meant he did not see further active service until September, when he assumed command of Fliegerschule 1. He joined Jasta 21 in May 1917 and commanded the unit from June onwards. Prior to his leadership, Jasta 21 had a lacklustre combat record and low morale, but under Schleich within a month the Jasta had downed 36 enemy aircraft, 19 of them credited to Schleich personally.
When Leutnant Erich Limpert, his best friend on the Jasta, was killed in a dogfight, Schleich ordered his plane to be painted all black. This black plane soon led to Schleich being dubbed ‘The Black Knight’.
Ongoing Prussian and Bavarian political arguments over a non-Prussian commanding a Prussian fighter unit caused a new Bavarian Jasta to be formed, and in October 1917 Schleich was reassigned to command Jasta 32, with his tally of kills then at 25.
He was awarded the Pour le Mérite Order in December 1917, and after a spell commanding Jastaschule 1, on 15 March 1918 he took command of Jagdgruppe Nr. 8, a collection of Jastas 23, 34 and 35, and in the last month of the war he commanded Jasta 21. By the war’s end his score was 35.