Who's Who - Francesco Baracca

Francesco Baracca Francesco Baracca (1888-1918) was Italy's leading fighter pilot during World War One.

Baracca, who was born on 9 May 1888 in Lugo di Romagna, entered the Scuola Militare at Modena in October 1907.  Within the space of a year he had reached officer rank within the Royal Piedmont Cavalry.

April 1912 saw Baracca undertake flight training in Reims.  He spent the immediate pre-war months - Italy beginning the First World War as a declared neutral - in training and as an instructor.

His first victory came on 7 April 1916 when he successfully brought down an Austro-Hungarian aircraft.  Operating exclusively on the Italian Front Baracca notched up an impressive tally of 34 enemy aircraft, becoming his country's most successful airman of the war.

Having established himself as an accredited ace Baracca painted an image of a prancing horse upon his aircraft: it has been used since 1923 by Ferrari upon its racing cars.

His career - and life - came to an end on 19 June 1918 when he was shot down in the midst of a ground attack mission.  He was at that time in command of 91 Squadron.

His body, found a few days following the crash, bore the marks of a bullet hole to the head.  In his hand was held a pistol, leading to suspicions that he elected to take his own life rather than die in a crash or be taken prisoner.

"Devil Dogs" was the nickname given to the U.S. Marines by the German Army.

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Who's Who