It took three of us to get it right, but I think we got it. I did the reading, Bayo did the field work and Dubya did the artwork… but it wasn’t easy. Once Stachel established himself as a real Kanone, he got permission from Hauptmann Heidemann to paint his D7 all black, much like MVR’s all red Dr1. He wanted to intimidate his enemies….and poor Stachel being Stachel, he even went a little further (perhaps a little too far).
First the book work. Jack Hunter gives several descriptions in The Blue Max of Bruno’s paint job.
Ch15, pg. 140 Bruno gets an English Lesson and asks Ziegel for a new paint job.
“You speak English pretty well, eh Kettering?” … “So-so” … “Do me a favor?”..”What is it?”…Stachel took out a stub of pencil and a combat report form. Steadying himself against the bar, he scrawled a brief phrase. He handed the paper to Kettering, weaving slightly…”How do you say this in English? In the fewest possible words, that is.”…Kettering read, then looked up at Stachel. “My, my. That’s a dirty word. A dirty two words, I should say.”…”Write them down. In block letters.”..Kettering shrugged, then, tongue between his lips traced out one four-letter word and a second one with three…”There you are. They’re not very complimentary, I might mention. Say those two words in polite society and the English will seal your ass in paraffin.”…”Good.” He turned to Ziegel, his eyes hot. “Ziegel, I want you to paint my Fokker. Jet black all over, except for the national markings, which you can outline in white….And one other thing: in large white block letters, running the full chord of the top wing, I want you to paint on these letters, just the way Kettering wrote them.”
Ch 16, Page 144 Heidemann gets a glimpse of Stachel’s new paints.
He noted that Stachel’s Fokker was not all black. There seemed to be white stripes painted on the upper wing between the national markings. They appeared to be letters, be he couldn’t make them out from this angle.
Ch 17 pg 158 Kettering introduces captured Entente fighters to Stachel at the Officer’s Bar, and the squad has a laugh at Bruno’s expense.
“Ho, Stachel! There you are! These beefeaters have been asking all evening to meet the man that snapped their suspenders.”….Stachel turned, his back to the bar, and regarded the foolishly grinning trio. His face was blank. “So?”…Without dropping his stare he told Kettering: “Tell them it was a good fight they put up. It wasn’t, but tell them anyhow.”…Kettering did. The O’Brien began to laugh, and then the Watkins made a comment from the corner of his mouth…”What did he say, Kettering?”…The adjutant’s expression was a mixture of amusement and concern. “Well, this one says he’d have put up a better fight if he hadn’t been laughing too hard to aim.”…”What does he mean by that?”…Kettering looked confused now. The O’Brein said something to Watkins and they both howled, punching each other in the ribs…”What did he say, goddamn it!”…Kettering shrugged, attempting to minimize it all. “Well he said you’d soon be known far and wide as the ‘Men’s Room Ace.””…..Stachel’s expression was mean. “What is that supposed to signify, if I may be so bold?”…”Take it easy, Stachel. They’re drunk. We’re all drunk. This is all in fun.”…”Tell me.”…”That legend you have on your machine’s top wing. It’s the kind of thing you see scrawled on walls in public comfort stations, that’s all. It amuses our guests. They say you must have a wonderful sense of humor…..”…Everyone began to laugh then, Braun, Huemmel, Ulrich, Zimmermann, Schneider, Ziegel – they’d formed a circle and were roaring and stamping their feet and slapping their thighs…Braun choked, “Stupendous! Herr Stachel will kill the enemy with laughter!”….Stachel, his face white, turned on his heel an stalked from the room.
Solving the riddle….Bayo’s road trip.
So the first two paragraphs were clear enough, plenty for Dub to create a set of skins for Bruno’s D7, but the third paragraph introduced a bit of a riddle to be solved. Clearly either Kettering played a joke on Bruno or his hold on the english language was not so good. Its not like The Blue Max was written in the thirties where foul language wasn’t shown in print so Jack Hunter made the point of calling the text out as two words, first one four letters, second one three but not giving you the actual words. Dub, Bayo and I focused on the second word, three letters, rhymes with “You”, something you might see “scrawled on the wall of a comfort station”…”Men’s Room Ace”…Keep in mind that Ketterings side business was dealing in pornography, he liked to joke around and he was not a huge fan of Mr. Stachel. Dub being our squad’s expert in off-color humor, he came to a conclusion right away, but we needed field verification.
We tapped into the WingWalker’s limited travel budget ( sorry guys might be four years before the next reunion) and sent Bayo on a two week trip to France so that he could visit what remaining preserved WW1 Aerodromes he could find. A gruelling 14 days, Bayo went from Latrine to Latrine documented what remaining grafitti he could find. It was a difficult trip and Bayo is still recovering from some of the things he saw ( at least that is what he tells me, I’m thinking he did quite a bit of pub research while in France as well). Thankfully on the last day, he found this at an English Aerodrome located on the Scarpe River just north of Amiens. This was enough evidence to convince even a skeptic like me that Dub had it right in the first place!
And finally Bruno’s D7 Paint Job!
Dub is the “skinner” for our squad and is very talented guy. These images are with the skins he created loaded into the WW1 Flight Sim, Rise of Flight. He created two versions, one with the nasty text and one with the text painted out. Our assumption was that after the bar room embarassment, Stachel would have asked Ziegel to paint the text out. If the light catches it the right way you can still make out the letters.
So there you have it, one mystery in The Blue Max solved, perhaps more in the future? Thanks so much to Dub for his real help and to Bayo for help that I made up ( artistic license!!). The windfall to me is my blogs banner now is graced by Bruno himself shooting down an SE5a.