Who's Who - Rene Fonck

Rene Fonck Paul Rene Fonck (1894-1953) was the Allies' most successful fighter pilot of World War One, and also the highest-scoring survivor of the war (second only to Manfred von Richthofen).

Fonck was conscripted into the French Army in 1914 and attended Flying School the following February.  During the early stages of the war he flew with a French reconnaissance unit before transferring in time to the more active fighter service.  He claimed his first 'kill' (a German aircraft on the Western Front) on 6 August 1916.

A brilliant shooter rather than an accomplished pilot (and reputed for his conservative use of ammunition), Fonck claimed no fewer than six victories in a single day, all German aircraft on 9 May 1918 over Montdidier (a feat he was later to repeat).

His tally by the close of the war, 75, made him not only the highest scoring French and Allied ace, but also the most successful fighter pilot to survive the war.  Never an especially modest man, Fonck personally claimed to have downed some 127 aircraft - at least - during his service.

In addition to innumerable French honours Fonck was also the recipient of the British Military Cross and DCM.

Following the armistice Fonck worked as a racing and demonstration pilot.  From 1937-39 he acted as Inspector of fighter aviation within the French Air Force.  However his later record of working with the Vichy government following the fall of France in June 1940 later besmirched his reputation.

He died in 1953.

The German word "U-Boat" was derived from "Unterseeboot" (undersea boat).

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