Development and Operation
The Macchi M.5 was a flying-boat fighter developed by the Nieuport Macchi company of Varese in early 1917, and introduced in service in autumn 1917. Initially armed with a single Fiat machine-gun, and featuring a tali strucuture held on struts, the production M.5 had an armamaement pof two Vickers guns and a tail structure resting on the fuselage. It was an extremely fast and maneuverable airplane, that managed to gain an ascendancy over the enemy seaplane fighetrs and even cliamed victories against the Phönix land fighters.
It was produced in large quantities, at least 330 by the mother company and a few dozens by the IAM company of Naples, the final examples being of the Macchi M.5 mod. version, with conventional parallel wing struts instead of the Vee Nieuport-type struts. The Macchi M.5 served mainly with the 260a and 261a Squadriglia in Venice, the 256a at Otranto, 257a and 258a in Albania, 262a at Brindisi, 263a at Porto Corsini, 264a at Ancona.
American pilots flew the Macchi M.5 as a fighetr trainer at the Bolsena flying school, and as an operational fighter with the Porto Corsini Naval Air Station, that took over the structures of the disbanded Italian 263a Squadriglia.
The first Medal of Honor to an American naval pilot was assigned to this unit, on its first operational mission. On 21 August 1918 Macchi M 8 serial 19008 with pilot Walther White and observer Albert P. Taliaferro with an escort of four M.5s went on a leaflet dropping mission to Pola, and was faced by four Phönix land fighters. Ensign George Ludlow, flying M.5 13015, attacked together with ensign Austin Parker, pilot Charles H. Hammann and ensign Dudley Voorhees. Ludlow put an enemy out of action, then he was shot down by Fregattenleutnant Stephan Wolleman and alighted at sea. Hammann alighted near him, sabotaged the wreck of the Macchi, then took his friend on board hanging to the engine struts, strafed again the wreck of the Macchi nicknamend "Mutt 1197" and returned to base. The unbalanced Macchi crashed during the landing, but the two valiant airmen survived, and Hamman was awarded the Medal of Honor. Unfortunately, he lost his life in an accident with another Macchi on 24 June 1919.