KNIGHTS OF THE SKIES
S15202, 27th Aero Squadron, September 1918,
2Lt. Frank Luke Jr.
The SPAD S.XIII was a French biplane fighter aircraft of World War I,
developed by Société Pour L'Aviation et ses Dérivés (SPAD)
from the earlier highly successful SPAD S.VII.
It was one of the most capable fighters of the war,
and one of the most-produced,
with 8,472 built and orders for around 10,000 more cancelled at the armistice.
The Bleriot-built SPAD XIII was one of several aircraft known to have been flown
by Frank Luke during his remarkable two week balloon busting spree,
during which at least five fighters were written off
by him due to combat damage between 12-16th September 1918.
when he was shot down and killed while flying an Adolphe Bernard-built SPAD XIII S7984,
Frank Luke had four enemy aeroplanes and 14 balloons to his credit.
This astounding feat saw him posthumously awarded the first Medal of Honour
to be bestowed upon a pilot serving with the US Army Air Service.
Frank Luke Jr. (May 19, 1897 – September 29, 1918) was an American fighter ace,
ranking second among U.S. Army Air Service pilots after Captain Eddie Rickenbacker
in number of aerial victories during World War I
(Rickenbacker was credited with 26 victories, while Luke's official score was 18).
Frank Luke was the first airman to receive the Medal of Honor. Luke Air Force Base,
Arizona, a U.S. Air Force pilot training installation since World War II,
is named in his honor.
Between September 12 and September 29,
Luke was credited with shooting down 14 German balloons and four airplanes:
These 18 victories, which Luke earned during just ten sorties in eight days,
was a feat unsurpassed by any pilot in World War I