Saturday, 14 July 2018

Jules Vedrines 'La Vache' Bleriot 160 - 1914, the French 'invent' air combat (1)

Frenchman Jules Védrines was a popular and populist aviator noted for a variety of stunts and record-breaking feats. Born 29 December 1881 in St Denis/Paris he obtained his 'brevet de pilote' in 1910. During the First World War he was largely involved in clandestine missions, landing behind enemy lines to drop or pick up agents. At the start of the war although a 'civilian' aviator he was mobilised. He was one of the first aviators to fly 'armed' sorties although his lack of military discipline soon saw him sent away from the front! His armoured Bleriot monoplane aircraft was named La Vache (The Cow) and was emblazoned with a picture of a cow, in homage to his family's roots in the Limousin region - or alternatively 'la vache' is a mild French expletive and starting the engine generally involved a bit of effort and swearing!

 It was designed for attacking balloons and airships and for ground strafing of troop concentrations..

 On 15 July 1915 Védrines was mentioned in the French Army Order of the Day for his work with the Sixth Army, for whom he had flown over 1,000 hours on reconnaissance missions.

 "... the winner of the Paris-Madrid (air race of 1911) has built a new monoplane and has given it a very symbolic name ( 'La Vache - a word that has a double meaning in French; the 'cow' or an exclamation 'blast it'), an indication that the popular aviator will once again pull off an act of bravoure as nothing is above his courage.."

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Victor B.2 XL513 & XL 512 carrying Blue Steel - ebay photo find #57

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