A German Type Ae 800 observation balloon ascending / "Ballon L9"
Note on reverse "Ballon L9". One of a series of photographs removed from an album belonging to a member of an unidentified German Luftschiff-Truppe.
German observation balloons were always well defended with anti-aircraft batteries and there was never a suitable opportunity that did not entail severe risks for the attacking pilot.
An excerpt from Bloody April, Slaughter in the skies over Arras, 1917.
I proceeded now to dive for the balloon (after shooting down a scout aircraft), but having had so much warning, it had been pulled down to the ground. I would have been justified in going home when I saw this, for our orders were not to go under 1,000 feet after the 'sausages'. But I was just a bit peevish with this particular balloon, and to a certain extent my blood was up. So I decided to attack the ungainly monster in it's 'bed'.
I dived straight for it and when about 500 feet from the ground, opened fire. Nothing happened. So I continued to dive and fire rapid bursts until I was only 50 feet above the bag. Still there were no signs of it catching fire. I then turned my machine gun on the balloon crew, who were working frantically on the ground. They scattered and ran all about the field.
Meantime a 'flaming onion' battery (AA) was attempting to pelt me with those unsavoury missiles, so I whirled upon them with a burst of twenty rounds or more. One of the onions had flared within a 100 yards of me. This was all very exciting."
Lt. William Bishop, 60 Squadron, RFC.