Air Aces of World War One

 

Rene Fonck
Picture – Courtesy of Pinterest

Colonel Paul Rene Fonck – French and Allied Ace of Aces 1894 / 1953

 

Fonck was born on the 27th of March 1894 in the village of Saulcy – sur – Meurthe in the Vosges region of North Eastern France. Fonck left school aged 13. When conscripted for service, Fonck who had been interested in Aviation from childhood was rejected for an immediate transfer to the Air service, instead he was requested to do five months basic training with the Combat Engineers. His basic training duties first involved him in digging trenches near Epinal, and later in repairing bridges on the Moselle river.

On the 15th of February 1915, he was finally accepted into basic training to learn how to fly. He entered training first at St.Cyr and then at Le Crotoy on a Bleriot ‘Penguin’ a reduced-wingspan flightless version of the Bleriot XI, that gave the sensation of flying without actually leaving the ground. Fonck completed his pilot’s training and was sent to Ecadrille C.47 flying Caudron G.III observation aircraft.

On the 25th of May 1916, Fonck’s observer was killed by an Anti- Aircraft shell burst, a fate that almost befell Fonck a few weeks later. Fonck claimed his first victory in July 1916, but it was unconfirmed. On the 6th of August 1916, he attacked a Rumpler C.III and by manoeuvring over and around the enemy aircraft, staying clear of its field of fire, he eventually forced it to land behind the French lines for his first conformed victory, although it was shared with his observer, Lieutenant Thiberge. For this exploit he was awarded the Medialle Militaire in August 1916.

On the 17th of March 1917, Fonck scored for the second time, downing an Albatros in conjunction with his observer, Sergeant Huffer. By this time Fonck had amassed over 500hrs flying time, an incredible amount in these, the early days of aviation.

(C) Damian Grange 2018

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