Du Doch Nicht!!

Du Doch Nicht inscription on tail of Ernst Udet's aircraft

German ace Ernst Udet painted this phrase on the tail of his Fokker D-VII aircraft, considered one of the best fighter aircraft of WWI. As an idiom, it defies exact translation into English, but comes out as something like "No you don't!" or "Definitely not you!" One wonders why he would expect that enemy pilots on his tail would speak German well enough to understand it, but then, anyone could guess it's not exactly intended as a compliment.

Udet's aircraft no longer exists, but a flying replica with Udet's colors and markings, built from original blueprints, is on display at the Vintage Aero Flying Museum (VAFM) in Ft. Lupton, Colorado, just northeast of Denver on I-76. This authentic replica was built by Dr. James J. Parks in his garage with the help of his son Andy Parks, who is now the museum director. Assembled and completed at a local Colorado airport, it has been in the family and flown off and on for over 40 years. In 2009 the Ranger engine was rebuilt to new specifications, an oil cooler was added, and it received many other minor improvements, including a new paint job based on a recently discovered photo of Udet. The D-VII is just one of the museum's aircraft that flies on any Saturday the weather is suitable; museum visitors can watch the takeoffs and landings and learn what it was like to fly these early aircraft.

Who was Ernst Udet?

Udet standing in front of his Du Doch Nicht inscription

Oberleutnant Ernst Udet was a famous WWI aviator. With 62 victories, he was the second highest German ace, revered by both friend and foe. He was the highest-scoring ace to survive the war, becoming a barnstormer and movie pilot in the 1930's. After several rejections, he entered military service on August 21, 1914, as a motorcyclist. He applied for flying duties, but was rejected again, so he took flying lessons at his own expense. He gained his first air victory 18 March 1916 when he attacked 22 hostile aircraft from a lone Fokker D-III. In November 1917 he took command of Jasta 37. He then flew under Richthofen as acting commander of Jasta 11 in the spring of 1918, and after Richthofen's death, he became commander of Jasta 4 in May 1918. On the side of most of his aircraft was painted "LO!" for his girlfiend, Eleanor Zink, later his wife. He was one of the first pilots to be saved by a parachute, though it didn't open until 250 feet above the ground. Between the wars, he lived the playboy life of a celebrity. He did not get along with Richthofen's successor Hermann Goering, and in 1941 appears to have committed suicide in response to working with Goering, though there is speculation that a man of Udet's personality who intended to commit suicide would have done so more spectacularly.

What was the Fokker D-VII?

Side of Udet's aircraft, with LO! inscription

The D-VII entered squadron service about the time Udet took over Jasta 4. It was easier to handle than contemporary enemy aircraft and performed well compared to them, and it did not have the Albatros' tendency to have the wings rip off in a hard dive.

Visit the VAFM to learn more about Ernst Udet, Manfred von Richthofen, and many more of the men who made aviation dashing and daring. See original uniforms of the aces, victory trophies of the Red Baron, and memorabilia from the Lafayette Escadrille Americans who flew for the Allies before America entered the war. Most of all, see the aircraft fly and develop respect for the courage of those first heroes of the air.

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7125 Parks Ln., Ft. Lupton, CO 80621
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