Colonel Rene Paul Fonck – French and Allied Ace of Aces 1894 / 1953 Part 3
Fonck like Guynemer, who was France’s leading Ace at the time, occasionally flew a Spad XII, which was a limited production model. This aircraft was distinguished by having a hand-loaded 37mm Puteaux canon firing through the propeller boss. Fonck apparently had 11 victories with this aircraft, He would later fly the Spad XIII the first fighter to be equipped with twin lewis guns.
Fonck did not make any more additions to his score until 19th January 1918, when he shot down 2 aircraft, in February he added another 5, March 7 more and another 3 in April. Then came a spectacular performance on May the 9th, it was sparked by an argument between Fonck and two of his American Squadron mates, Edwin C Parsons and Frank Baylies. Annoyed by Fonck’s lectures on Aerial success, the two Americans wagered Fonck a bottle of Champagne that they would shoot down an enemy aircraft before he did.
Baylies took off despite hazy weather and managed to shoot down an Halberstadt CLII, back at the airfield a sulky Fonck badgered then to change the wager, to who shot down the most planes that day. Lingering fog kept Fonck grounded for most of the day, he finally took off at 15.00 hrs, between 16.00 and 16.05 he shot down three German reconnaissance planes. A couple of hours later he repeated the feat. Fonck liked to concentrate on reconnaissance aircraft, he was aware of the damage they could cause doing spotting for their artillery etc.
He added a double on the 19th of May, and five more in June, By now he was regularly scoring doubles and with 49 on his score sheet was rapidly closing in on Guynemer’s record.
(C) Damian Grange 2018