Lt. David S. Ingalls was the US Navy's first ace and its first Top Gun. Ingalls was a Sopwith Camel pilot and the grand nephew of former President William Howard Taft. He enlisted in naval aviation before the United States joined the war and was a member of the First Yale Unit. He crossed the Atlantic in September 1917 to head to Gosport, England for training. He trained with various British units before getting two weeks of on the job training with 213 Squadron flying escort for bomber raids striking Bruges, Zeebrugge and Ostend, but to his chagrin, he never encountered any enemies.
Ingalls was also sent to Clermont-Ferrand, France for bomber training. There he promptly showed up his instructor, turning the tables on him during a mock engagement designed to teach him what it was like to be in front of an enemy fighter. Though in an underpowered trainer, he got behind the instructor and tailed him relentlessly in view of hundreds at the aerodrome below. Not surprisingly, Ingalls was returned to RAF 213 Squadron.
His scoreless streak changed on August 11, 1918. Over the port of Dixmude, Ingalls and his leader in Camels bounced an Albatros flying 4,000 feet below them at 10,000 feet and plugged short bursts into it as it dove to return to base. They last saw it heading into a slow spin and out of control.
Two nights later he ran a low level strafing raid on the German aerodrome of Varsenaere, 10 miles south of Zeebrugge. Flying so low that he almost hit the ground and skating through vengeful Archie, he slammed 450 rounds into the aerodrome, circled around and then dropped four bombs knocking out searchlights and causing chaos at the German field.
On August 21st, Ingalls shared a victory with another pilot by knocking down an LVG.
On September 15th, he attacked another enemy base – Uytkerke – along the coast just four miles before Zeebrugge. This time he unloaded 400 rounds and dropped his bombs on Fokkers parked below. Returning to base, he and a fellow Camel pilot spotted a Rumpler and scored.
On the 18th, he and two other Camel pilots pounced on a kite balloon at 3,500 feet. The Germans saw them too and started to winch the balloon. By the time the Camels hit it, it was at 900 feet. The two German balloonists jumped out to their safety though their balloon went down in flames.
On the 20th he scored his fifth victory over a Fokker D.VII. He was now the US Navy's first ace ever, and he had made it in less than six weeks.
On the 24th he and another pilot hit a Rumpler from 100 yards. Each fired approximately 200 rounds at it sending it down in flames. This was his sixth and final victory of the war. He had achieved glory and survived. For Ingalls it had been a good war.
Much of the above are excerpts from my book "American Eagles". Please support this website and our efforts to recognize our first combat aviators by buying it.
Books by Narayan Sengupta and Fred Scheer/Narayan Sengupta:
American Eagles - The Illustrated History of American Aviation in World War I - Lafayette Escadrille: America's Most Famous Squadron - POW Stories - Disaster at Dieppe
Game Scenarios by Narayan Sengupta:
Hearts of Iron II (game) scenarios - Railroad Tycoon 3 (game) scenarios/maps
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Preview (29 pages, 4.1 mb PDF).
"American Eagles - The Illustrated History of American Aviation in World War I" ($9.95, paperback, 370 pages, 8.5"x11", black and white, $3.95 for shipping and handling (US) or free download):
American Eagles features 220 photos, new maps and beautiful artwork by Michael O'Neal. It tells of American World War I combat aviation, the aviators, their planes, their aerodromes, their stories and what happened to them after the war. Read about America's first fighters, bombers and observation planes, the Lafayette Escadrille, USN Aviation, USMC Aviation, the United States Air Service, etc.
"I wanted to tell you what a great job you have done with your book! I have been totally enthralled reading through it!"
"A great book... a book that really needs to be on your bookshelf."
Matt Jolley, WarbirdRadio.com
"The photos in your books have a clarity I have not seen among the hundreds of WWI aviation books that I've collected/amassed. Those photos make you feel like you are standing there with the subjects. Outstanding! Your passion for the subject is evident!"
Mark, Lt Col, USAF (Retired)
Preview (Table of Contents, Table of Illustrations, Chapter 1, 1.0 mb PDF)
"Lafayette Escadrille: America's Most Famous Squadron" ($9.95, 204 pages, digest size, black and white, $3.95 for mail or free download):
The Lafayette Escadrille is about the brave Americans who volunteered to fly for France and the United States 103rd Aero Squadron during World War I. Read about Raoul Lufbery, Bill Thaw, Kiffin Rockwell, Norman Prince, Charles Biddle and the early days of American World War I military aviation before it was known as the United States Air Force. These men flew Nieuports and Spads against Fokkers and Albatroses. This book has lots of new research and is thoroughly well-documented. 204 pages, 62 photos and maps.
"Narayan Sengupta's "The Lafayette Escadrille: America's Most Famous Squadron" is a wonderfully written history of one of the most unique air combat units that ever existed. Not only is his book factual and chock full of historical photos (80+), the text is nicely augmented with maps, appendices, and a very complete bibliography. Great job, all around!"
Steve Ruffin, Managing Editor emeritus, "Over the Front."
"You write so well! I thoroughly enjoyed it and learned a lot."
"A concise, well written history of one of the most significant fighter squadrons in American history. Long before the US entered World War One, these volunteers showed that not all Americans were "too proud to fight." They helped defend the skies of France and laid the groundwork for what would eventually become the United States Air Force. Mr. Sengupta has done an excellent job of telling the story of some of the most colorful individuals in American history. Very readable and superbly illustrated, the book is thoroughly researched and well documented."
Steve Tom, PhD, Lt Col USAF (Ret)
"POW Stories" ($9.95, paperback, 189 pages, 6"x9", black and white, $3.95 for shipping and handling (US)):
POW Stories: remarkable stories told by men once POWs in Germany. Some were in the US Army, others in the United States Army Air Force. Read exhilarating, astonishing and poignant real-life stories by Fred Scheer, James Golden, Les Schrenk and many others. All were POWs in Germany during WWII. Jim was a Mustang pilot who was the last Allied pilot shot down on D-Day. Fred escaped twice and was recaptured. He made it out for good on his third escape. And Les survived the brutal German Death March. 189 pages, 35 photos and maps.
"POW Stories is a masterfully assembled collection of first-hand tales of survival, comradery and reunion, an emotional journey of brave men recounting their highs and lows and finding humor in the darkest places. The stories should never be forgotten. Well worth the read."
Patricia W. Huff
"I thoroughly enjoyed it and shed a fair amount of tears because it was so REAL. Their tales are shared so simply but the impact on the reader is huge. Excellent work."
The raid on Dieppe, code named Operation Jubilee, was the first invasion/large scale raid, of World War II. Jubilee featured the first use of Rangers, Churchill tanks, tanks in an amphibious assault, P-51s and Typhoons and more. Approximately 6,000 troops were roped into the attack: they included 5,000 Canadians, 1,000 British, 50 American Rangers and 24 French light infantry. Poor planning and Murphy's Law led to an 85% casualty rate for the Canadians who landed! It was a rate far, far worse than the 10% suffered by the US Marines at Tarawa in late 1943 or the 15% that would be sustained by the Americans on Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944. But their sacrifice was not in vain and may have saved 10 times as many lives in Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944. This is an easy read. At the same time, it is thoroughly documented. Its tables and six-page index makes it a great reference book. 167 pages, 6" x 9", 66 photos and maps.
Bad Boys is a terrific scenario where the US President makes the United States very aggressive, attacking Nazi Germany and other dictatorships, but sells its soul in the process... Hearts of Iron II scenario - Bad Boys! - more information on my 5 Star General website...
Railroad Tycoon 3 Maps!
Here are several terrific extra maps (scenarios) for Railroad Tycoon 3. Original Railroad Tycoon game NOT included, but can be bought elsewhere online.
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Related Links: Quentin Roosevelt | Frank Luke | Eddie Rickenbacker | Raoul Lufbery | Eugene Bullard | David Ingalls - 1st Navy Ace | "American Eagles" - 345 page illustrated history of US Combat Aviation in World War I