Wilhelm Frankl
Leutnant (Reserve), Commander, 23rd Field Aviation Unit, Jasta 4

He was awarded the Pour le Merite for distinguished military service, leadership, and his 8th aerial victory.

Born December 20, 1893
Jasta 4
19 Victories
Awards: 1st or 2nd? class Iron Cross, and the Pour le Merite.

He was the son of a Jewish business man who resided in Hamburg, Germany and later relocated to Frankfort/Main. After successfully passing all examinations at school, he left school and developed an interest in aviation. He went to Johannisthal, the famous German pre-war aviation center and became a flight student of Germany's first female pilot, the charming Melly Beese. He was a quick learner and obtained his pilot's license, number 490.

When the war broke out in 1914, he did not hesitate to volunteer to the Flying Corps. Due to his experience, he was immediately accepted and was placed in Feldflieger Abteilung 40. Frankl's unpretentious and complaisant attitude, couple with his excellent flying ability, soon won the affection of his superiors.

Kampfeinsitzer-Kommando Vaux, during the Battle of the Somme.

From left to right: 9th - Lt. Wintgens, 11th - Lt. Hohndorf, 13th - Hptm. Palmer, 15th - Lt. Frankl, 21st - Lt. Gnamm Flt. Abt. 23, 22nd - Lt. Veltjens

On January 10, 1916 Vfw. Frankl succeeded in downing a French machine with the new Voisin Avion-canon. This was Frankl's first aerial combat victory. Sometime during all of this Wilhelm Frankl fell in love with the daughter of an active Austrain Navy officer, Kapitan zur See Edmund Stroll, who lived in Vienna. The girl was Christian and wanted to convert Frankl. After some long thought on the situation, Frankl agreed to convert to Christianity and the couple were married in the early part of 1917.

Frankl's Fokker E IV Frankl testing Pfalz D VI.

During this time Oswald Boelcke was asked to formulate a new style of fighter group, one of which was to be eventually commanded by Oblt. Berthold. Berthold choose von Althaus, Wintgens, Hohndorf, Frankl, Bernert, Fugner, and Stehl to members of his Jagstaffel. The well known author Heinz Joachim Nowarra notes in his booklet about Wilhem Frankl that his Jewish background made no difference when it came to being chosen and being respected as a member of these fighter groups. Near the end of is career he became commander of Jasta 4 after his flying mates such as Berthold went on to lead other Jastas. He was at the apex of his career when he died on Easter Sunday, in April 1917. This was two days after he succeeded in downing three enemy aircraft all in one day.

Lt. Frankl joking around with Workmaster Albrecht and the Paymaster.
Lt. Frankl joking around with Workmaster Albrecht and the Paymaster.

Air Page WWI Menu Main Menu