Colonel Rene Paul Fonck – French and Allied Ace of Aces 1894 / 1953 Part 2
At the age of 23, on 15th of April 1917 “Bloody April” as it was termed by the Allies. Fonck received a coveted invitation to join the renowned Escadrille les Cicognes, Group de Combat 12 with its four escadrilles or squadrons, was the worlds first fighter win
The leading French ace, Georges Guynemer, served at that time in one of its Escadrilles N.3 where he had just scored his 36th Victory. Fonck was assigned to another escadrille in the group Spa.103, Flying the Spad VII. He rapidly made a reputation for himself by achieving his Ace status by the 13th of May. He scored another victory on June the 12th, then nothing until the 9th of August, he scored twice more in August on the 21st and 22nd.
On the 14th of Sepember he killed the pilot of a German observation plane and watched as the plane inverted and almost dropped the thrashing observer through the wing of Fonck’s Spad. He even went to the extreme of tearing the barograph out of the cockpit of that days victim, his twelfth, so that its readout would confirm his combat report.
September and October had added four more victories to Fonck’s total score. by the end of 1917, Fonck’s total score was 19, he had been made an Officer and been awarded the Legion d’Honneur. Fonck only improved. Already known for his clinical professionalism, he applied mathematical principles to combat flying and his engineering knowledge regarding the capabilities of the aircraft he flew was unsurpassed amongst his fellow pilots.
Fonck took few chances, patiently stalking his intended victims from higher altitudes. He then used deflection shooting with deadly accuracy on enemy pilots at close range. Resulting in an astonishing economy of ammunition per kill. More often than not, a single burst of less than five rounds from his lewis gun would be sufficient. His preferred method of Aerial combat was not to engage in dogfights, but to carry our surgically merciless executions.
To Be Continued ………….
(C) Damian Grange 2018