Text: Richard Plos
Illustration: Adam Tooby
Being shot down is every fighter pilot’s nightmare. But it doesn’t have to be someone’s
end. Many have been shot down, some even
more than once, and managed to escape. It is
admirable that pilots have returned under fire
of combat after such an experience. Unless
they were captured... Lt. d. R. Hans Schultz
was shot down twice, and he survived both
times. The first time he also managed to
escape, the second time he was not so lucky.
And it is the theme of Adam Tooby’s boxart,
where Schultz falls victim to Canadian C. H.
R. Lagesse of No. 29 Squadron RAF. However,
interesting events preceded this incident...
On March 20, 1918, an unprecedented affair
occurred in the Luftstreitkräfte (German AF).
Hptm. Rudolf Berthold, the then commander of Jasta 18, was to take command of the
JG II fighter group, but he conditioned his
move on the possibility of taking his unit’s personnel with him. But the inclusion of
Jasta 18 into JG II was not possible, so a “great
exchange” happened, the victim of which was
one of the fighter units of JG II, namely Jasta 15. The commanders simply swapped their
Jasta logs and bases as well. Jasta 18 headed
to Guise and became Jasta 15, while the original Jasta 15 had to move to Bruille, where
it began operating as Jasta 18. And the very
next day it joined the German spring offensive
in the 17th Army sector. Under the command
of Lt. d. Res. August Raben, Jasta 18 adopted
a new identity for their aircraft in the form
of white fuselages with red noses. The first
day of the offensive passed and the next day
Jasta 18 suffered its first loss. Lt. d. R. Hans
Schultz was shot down over no-man’s land.
He was unharmed, managed to escape and
returned to the unit two days later.
In the early evening of June 6, nine Jasta
18 fighters took off at about 1800 hrs from
Lomme airport for a patrol flight north of the
French town of Hazenbrouck. The unit was
at the time in the process of changing their
Albatroses for Fokkers D.VII. This new type
probably prevailed in the formation. At 1745
hrs, SE.5a formation of No. 29 Squadron RAF
also took to the air, heading for the same
sector. The German pilots spotted the enemy
flying a little lower around 18:00 and swooped
down on them, but the RAF pilots managed to
turn their aircraft against the enemy in time.
Then a skirmish ensued. Lt. Rolfe chased one
of the Fokkers down to 9000 ft (2700 m), where the aircraft caught fire and crashed. Karl
Albert Mendel, an ace with seven kills, was
killed in the cockpit. Meanwhile Lt. Lagesse in
his SE.5a (D5969) was already chasing Fokker
D.VII of Hans Schultz. The combat report stated: “Lt C H R Lagesse, accompanied by Capt
R C L Holme MC and Lt H A Whittaker, saw
an enemy Scout over Hazebrouck at about
1800 hrs. All three dived on it. Lt Lagesse fought it to within about 2000 ft of the ground,
when it was obviously due to land this side.
He then left it, and the enemy aircraft landed
north of Hazebrouck and turned over on its
nose.” Again, Schultz escaped the crash alive,
but this time he did not escape capture and
remained in custody for the rest of the war.
His Fokker D.VII 386/18 was the first example of this type to fall into British hands, and
of course it was thoroughly examined. Today
it is an exhibit at the Royal Air Force Museum
Hans Walter Schultz was born in Berlin on
27 May 1893 and began his flying career
with the observation Fliegerabteilung 273
(FA A 273). He completed fighter training from
14 October to 14 November 1917 and was then
assigned to Jasta 15, which later became Jasta 18. He scored his only kill before being captured on 24 May 1918. He survived his capture
and became an architect after the war. He died
on 20 July 1975 in Berlin.
His defeater, Camille Henri Raoul Lagesse,
achieved his fifth success by shooting down
Schultz and thus became an ace. By the end
of the war, he had fifteen more kills (including
two balloons) under his belly and became
the 23rd most successful Canadian fighter
pilot of the Great War. Born in January 1893
on the island of Mauritius, he graduated from
the Royal College and continued his studies
in France. Then he joined the ranks of the
28th London Regiment in 1916 and changed for
the Royal Flying Corps in July 1917, where he
was promoted to the rank of 2nd Lieutenant
on September 26, 1917. He transferred
to No. 29 Squadron on March 20, 1918 and flew
a total of 426 combat hours during the war.
He was twice awarded the DFC for his combat achievements and received the Croix de
Guerre as well. He died just six months after
Schultz, on February 15, 1976, in France.