Joseph Frantz
Photo M.B.
Nouvelle Histoire Mondiale de l'Aviation, Edmond Petit


October 5, 1914, Sergeant Joseph Frantz (born in 1890, died in Paris in 1979) and his mechanic Louis Quénault (dates unknown), were attached to flotilla V 24. Flying a Voisin Type 3 biplane, they fired on a German Aviatik with a Hotchkiss machine gun. It was being piloted by Sergeant Wilhelm Schlichting with Lieutenant Fritz von Zangen as his observer. They were engaged in a reconnaisance mission close to Jonchéry on Vesle. After they exhausted the ammunition for the machine gun, they found themselves being fired upon by the German observer with his rifle. Sergeant Quénault responded with his own rifle and one of the shots hit the pilot. The plane, out of control, crashed to the earth and was destroyed. This event marked the first confirmed air victory of the First World War, and indeed in History at the same time.
     There had been occasional exchanges of shots between the pilots of planes during the first weeks of the conflict, but Frantz and Quénault are credited with being the first aviators to shoot down an enemy plane.
     Following this event, and in light of the subsequent victories which followed, the French high-command became aware of the new role which aviation could play when units specialized not only in observation and bombardment, were fitted with armament suitable for battle between planes in the air.
Editor's Note:
This is the introduction of the story about Joseph Frantz and Louis Quénault which I found on the webpage of Regis Moinier. I contacted him by email and he responded very graciously by granting me permission to use the story and the photo from his site. The site is in French, which I don't speak, so I used the Alta Vista translation service for a basis of the story. I hope that by trying to put it into ordinary English that I haven't made too many errors in the sense of it. If you read French, I heartily recommend that you visit his site for the rest of the story of Frantz, as well as those of many other French pioneers.

Joseph Frantz died in 1978
From The Early Birds of Aviation CHIRP
January 1973, Number 79

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