Balloon buster

Balloon busters were military pilots known for destroying enemy observation balloons. Seventy-four fighter pilots in the First World War were each credited with five or more balloons.

An observation balloon was both a vulnerable and a valuable target: lifted by flammable hydrogen gas and moored in a stationary position, they were used to observe and correct the fall of their comrades' artillery fire. For these reasons, they were often given heavy defenses in the form of anti-aircraft artillery and fighter patrols stationed overhead. These made balloons tempting but very dangerous targets to approach.

Top ten balloon busters:

*Willy Coppens Belgium 34 + 3 airplanes
*Leon Bourjade France 27 + 1 airplane
*Michel Coiffard France 24 + 10 airplanes
*Maurice Boyau France 21 + 14 airplanes
*Friedrich Roeth (Roth) Germany 20 + 8 airplanes
*Jacques Ehrlich France 18 + 1 airplane
*Heinrich Gontermann Germany 18 + 21 airplanes
*A. F. W. Beauchamp Proctor Britain 16 + 38 airplanes
*Karl Schlegal Germany 14 + 8 airplanes
*Frank Luke America 14 + 4 airplanes

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