Leutnant Näther (8/24/99-1/8/19) may have been the youngest German ace of WW1 with ten balloons and 16 aircraft to his credit. Näther's score of 26 victories comprised over half the wins for his entire Jasta, which totaled 49 aerial victories.
He was from Tepliwoda in Silesia, which at that time was a part of the Kingdom of Prussia. Näther joined the German army in 1914 when he was a mere 15 years old. He was twice wounded before being commissioned as Leutnant der Reserve on August 11, 1916, just before his 17th birthday. He won both the Second and First Class Iron Crosses during this time, the latter on 1 February 1916. In the summer of 1917, he volunteered for transfer to the Air Service.
Näther took basic flight training in Bucharest. He then progressed to training with FEA 7 at Braunschweig. His final training was at Jastaschule I at Valenciennes, France. He was subsequently assigned to Jasta 62 March of 1918. Näther scored his first aerial victory on May 16, 1918, when he shot down a SPAD XIII. June saw him credited with six victories over enemy observation balloons, and in July a Sopwith Dolphin and three more SPADs fell victim to his guns. He became Staffelführer on July 7, 1918, just before his 19th birthday.
Näther spent August on leave; he probably waited to change planes to a Fokker D.VII until after his return.
He scored another six victories in September, including two more balloons. Especially notable was 26 September, when he downed a SPAD XIII in the morning and a balloon and another SPAD in mid-afternoon. He was slightly wounded the following day.
Näther began October with back to back double wins, on the 9th and 10th. After another victory on the 18th, he incinerated his tenth and final balloon on the 23rd. As he returned from this mission, Näther was shot down in flames by American ace Jacques Swaab in a SPAD XIII of the 22nd Aero Squadron, but somehow Näther survived. It was Swaab's fifth victory, thus making him an ace as well.
His final three victories were scored on October 29. Coincidentally, he was nominated for the Pour le Merite on that same day; however, his nomination was one of several that weren't approved before the abdication of the Kaiser on November 9. Following the end of the Great War, Näther served in the border war with Poland. He was shot down and killed by ground fire when flying over Kolmar in what is now Poland (source: theaerodrome.com).
The gentleman standing on the ground and taking notes is wearing a one-piece flying suit made out of moleskin cloth (napped corduroy) over his service uniform. He also wears the standard-issue reinforced leather flying helmet and a privately purchased scarf.