Air Aces of World War One

Francesco barracaCount Francesco Baracca – Italy’s No.1 Ace 1888/1918

Francesco Baracca was born in Lugo di Romagna in Italy on the 9th of May 1888. He was the son of a wealthy Landowner. The young Baracca studied at a private school in Florence, before entering the Military Academy of Modena in 1907, at 19 years of age.

As an antidote to classroom boredom, he became a keen horseman. He became a cavalry man with the prestigious Piemonte Reale Cavalleria Regiment upon his commissioning in 1910 aged 22. His first duty station allowed him to attend concerts and the Opera in Rome as well  pursuing hunting and equestrian competitions; He gained some fame as an equestrian. This idyll was spoilt by a transfer to a small town in central Italy. Baracca then became interested in Aviation.

He learned to fly at Reims, France and received his Pilot’s licence on 9th July 1912. He then served with the Battaglione  Aviatori and in 1914 with the 5th and 6th Squadriglia. During the months Before the outbreak of World war One, There was intense political controversy between pro-war and pro-peace factions. Baracca remained aloofly neutral but ready to serve his country, should the need arise.

After Italy’s entry in to the war on the Allies side in May 1915 he was sent to Paris to train on Nieuport 10 two-seaters.Upon his return in July he was transferred to the 8a Squadrilgia Nieuport. The Nieuport 10’s that equipped this Squadron were virtually useless against Austro- Hungarian raids, the Nieuports were too slow, with too slow a rate of climb to bring the intruders to battle with any regularity. the frustrated Italian pilots even took to flying without observers to gain a little speed, but with little success.

To Be Continued………..

(C) Damian Grange 2018

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