Bruno Stachel’s D7 Paints Revealed!

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.

Pic Final Skin

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.

A Veteran’s Day Remembrance and my connection to WW1 – William Brown Rigg

I was not raised in a military family, growing up in the 60’s, probably quite the opposite. But like most families the past wars and family member’s service in the military impacted us greatly over multiple generatations.   It started with both sides of my family coming to the United States from Europe in the early 1900’s, no doubt fleeing the troubles before the start of The Great War.

My Dad served during the Korean war, but never made it further from California than Oklahoma where he was stationed and where he and my Mom started their family.  The biggest impact on us kids was his coveted WWII patch collection and phrases like “Lady with a Baby” that he would call out when we had to clear the way for a wheel barrel full of concrete during Saturday chores.

He lost his oldest brother in Normandy and somewhere in my family is the letter from the government where they described his death as a heroic act, leading the charge “over the hill” (remember the scene in Spielbergs “Saving Private Ryan” with all the women typing letters to send home after the invasion).   My Dad knew better, he described his brother as a sweet, gentle man that had no business going to war.  His family was not suprised when he did not return.

My mother recalled many times the story of being a little girl and crying  on December 7th after Pearl Harbor was bombed, sure that her birthday party on December 8th would be cancelled.  My Grandfather worked for the Federal Government in California and gathered up Japanese nationals after Pearl Harbor to remove them from their homes and send them to internment camps.  My brother-in-law’s, older brother’s name is engraved in black granite at the Viet Nam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C.

My connection to World War 1 is physical and real.  It is a handshake that I still remember. His fist was big and strong, his fingers short and callused.  We were standing in his backyard in Ventura, California next to the orange trees he was so proud of.  I was dating his grandaughter ( my future wife) and was probably more interested in the potential of making out with her in the drive-in that night than hearing his story.  But he gave me a few bits that I still hold on to.  He was short and stocky.  He had that classic Scottish unblinking squint in his eye and when he called out his son-in-laws name it was “Wully!” instead of Bill.  A man of few words but of strong will and character.

Worked as coal miner in New Mexico…”Toughest job there is” …and you knew he meant it.

Fought in World War 1, took a bullet, got gassed with chlorene gas…”Awful stuff”…and you knew it was.

William Brown Rigg was born in Kilsyth, Sterlinshire, Scotland on October 14th, 1896.  He was a miner by trade and when the Great War came, he served in the 7th Battalion of the Argylls and Sutherland, the Scottish Territorials.  In 1922 he moved to Victoria BC.  Later he came into the United States, became a citizen and moved to New Mexico where he continued his career as a miner.  He eventually retired in Ventura, Ca

That’s it , that is all I have ….and it haunts me how little I gathered from that conversation the day I met him when I consider how much time I have spent since in trying to learn about this conflict thru sketching, reading and even flying in a virtual world.  His old military documents give us some clues of his service. Researching these documents would be a whole other project, that I hope to do someday, but I thought in honor of Veteran’s Day in general and William Brown Rigg in particular,  I would share some of those documents with you.



Here are his medals


Here are some of his papers that give his Regimental Number and a recommendation from the Major from his unit.




WW1 Research and Falling Down the Rabbit Hole…Feldgrau, Flak and Weiner Dogs

This started with something to do with The Blue Max….really, I mean it!  That is what I’m suppose to be doing here right???  I have set the discipline that I will post once a week no matter what and was digging a bit on what to post this week.  I came up with a simple enough task.  I had a list of words that Jack Hunter used in his book that I intended to add to a glossary of terms.  But life with the internet means that simple tasks turn complicated, little excursions turn into entire journeys…..


The list looked something like this.  If you notice when I made the list I didn’t know how to add umlauts to the text…the little vowel symbol for pronunciation in german words.  I dutifully added a colon after the vowel so I would remember to fix the list eventually.



UmlautsMy first bit of internet trivia was this handy picture on how to add umlaut characters in Word.  You simply hold down the Alt Key while you type the digits and release and like magic the symbol shows up!



I started in on the “real work” of looking up the words on the list. For no reason in particular I started with Feldgrau (sounds like field gray right?) and ran into a post by a re-enactor trying to get his facts straight on his WW1 german uniform and was comparing Feldgrau caps to Krätzchen (another word on the list!!) and the post linked to this website created by Tony Schnurr.  Well clearly I was going to kill two birds with one stone, following this link.

HatsI should have recognized that I had already fell down the rabbit hole of research when I visited the first page that related to felt caps. Now I know more about caps than I ever wanted to know.  Krätzchen are field caps without a visor. Schirmmütze are visor caps.  Caps issued to enlisted men were of much lower quality than caps military men of means bought for themselves.  The very stiff formal caps are referred to as tellermutzen or “plate hat” because they have stiff sides and tops.  The two small “rosettes” are called Prueßen Korkade’s….(and yes now I’ve used at least three different umlauts just telling you about these hats. ) Well the caps were only the beginning…

CasingsI noticed a section on artillary shells with hats.  An artful display of the different casing sizes, placed next to helmuts for scale ( perhaps not so artful if you were the guy in the trenches heaving these things into cannons or ducking for cover).  Starting at the left 20mm Becker used on cannon’s mounted on the Gotha and AEG bombers, 3/7cm Maxim Flak, 8/0 Zug Flak heavy anti-aircraft,  8/8 K-Flak and finally the huge 30/5cm Küstenmörser Beta shells.

HotchkissThese images link to detailed pages with lots of images of the actual cannons as well as an explanation of the history that led to the Hotchkiss and Flak guns being placed near the trenches.  Cannons had been developed on ships as defensive weapons and when flying machines surfaced as offensive weapons straffing the trenches, these cannons were moved into the field on swivel bases to provide a response.

FlackThey may not have been affective against planes at high altitude, but they did serious damage to the ground straffing planes. Shell casings piled high next to these cannons as they pounded away. The term Flak comes from the german word flugabwehrkanone which means air defense cannon.  Anyone who spends time flying online knows how punishing this flak can be.  We curse at it all the time as our planes fall out of the sky.

DogAll this is documented in great detail on Tony’s website and I strongly recommend that you “fall into the rabbit hole” like I did to see what he has put together.  Of course the story doesn’t end here.  Through out the site you will see his dachshund Kaiser ( who the site is named after), all decked out in the appropriate gear.  If you read deeper you will discover that Tony loved his dog dearly and was clearly heartbroken when the dog passed in 2010.

Words2And yes, I did finally get back to my list of terms and at least took a shot at getting definitions for them.  But Tony’s website, his insight into military history and his dog are so much more interesting than were I started.

The Rabbit Hole is not such a bad place after all!