Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
When World War I started he joined the Luftstreitkräfte and was sent for pilot training in November 1914. He was initially stationed in northern France as a reconnaissance aviator. On June 3 1915 he was shot down by a French pilot but managed to land safely behind German lines. He was decorated with the Iron Cross, Second Class for this. Later in 1915 he became a fighter pilot. He became known as Eagle of Lille (Der Adler von Lille).
An aerobatic maneuver consisting of a half loop followed by a half roll on top, used to rapidly reverse the direction of flight, is now called an Immelmann turn. There is some controversy over whether Immelmann himself actually developed the turn. It is also said that the Immelmann turn was originally used to refer to a different manuever, known as the Hammerhead.
He was the first German combat pilot to be awarded the Pour le Mérite, Germany's highest military honor. The medal became known as the Blue Max in honor of Immelmann.
Immelmann was killed in combat over Sallaumines in northern France on June 18th 1916. Some sources, including the Luftwaffe at the time, claimed this was due to (friendly) anti-aircraft artillery. Others, including his brother, believed the interruptor mechanism (which was designed to prevent his through-the-propeller machinegun from damaging the propeller blades) had catastrophically malfunctioned. According to the British official version however, he was shot down by an F.E.2b aircraft flown by pilot G.R. McCubbin and observer J. H. Waller from Royal Flying Corps Squadron 25.
He was credited with 15 victories.
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