The first military aircraft was shot down on September 30, 1915 by Private Radoje Ljutovac of the Serbian Army using a slightly modified Turkish cannon. Ljutovac engaged one of the three enemy aircraft approaching the Serbian town of Kragujevac, managing to draw first blood for AAA. The aircraft crashed in the city and both pilots died from their injuries1.
Radoje Ljutovac (4 September 1887 – 25 November 1968) was Serbian soldier from the village of Poljna, Serbia. During the First World War, he was a gunner in the Serbian Army, serving in the newly formed anti-air battery “Tanasko Rajic” deployed on a hill near Kragujevac Metin.
On 30 September 1915, three enemy planes approached Kragujevac and dropped their payload. The attempts by the Serbian soldiers to bring down the airplanes with rifle fire and machine gun fire proved unsuccessful. It was then that Ljutovac, using a modified Turkish gun captured in 1912, took aim and fired a shell, hitting the first plane. The aircraft shuddered and crashed making it the first reported case of a military aircraft shot down by AA gun. The pilots of the downed aircraft were Captain Von Scheffe and his rear/forward gunner Oton Kris2.
Ljutovac was decorated with the ‘Order of Karađorđe Star with Swords’ and was promoted to the rank of corporal.
Private Radoje Ljutovac’s Grave
Photo courtesy By Radovanovic Sasa – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21760502
Later on the Salonika front Ljutovac was promoted to the rank of sergeant.
- How was the first military airplane shot down. National Geographic. Retrieved 5 August 2015. http://www.nationalgeographic.rs/vesti/3842-prvi-ratni-avion-oboren-u-istoriji-pao-na-kragujevac.html
- Prvo obaranje aviona u svetskoj istoriji: Kada je Raka IZ TOPA oborio nemački avion”.rs (in Serbian). 2015-11-26. Retrieved 2017-01-09.