Who's Who - Georges Guynemer

Georges Guynemer Georges Marie Ludovic Jules Guynemer (1894-1917) was one of France's highest scoring fighter pilots during World War One, achieving 54 victories prior to his death on 11 September 1917.

Born on 24 December 1894 in Paris, Guynemer was to become France's most popular and revered air ace of the war.  He entered the air service in November 1914 as a mechanic before he received a pilot's brevet the following April.

As a member of the elite Storks squadron the somewhat frail looking Guynemer amassed some 54 victories until his death on 11 September 1917.  As a self-described 'Boche hunter' he was a first-rate marksman shooting down four German aircraft on one day, 25 May 1917.

Ever seeking ways of improving the fighting efficiency of his aircraft, a SPAD S.VII, Guynemer attached a single-shot 37mm cannon to the machine in the summer of 1917, which fired through a hollowed out propeller shaft.  He named the finished product his 'Magic Machine'.  Surprisingly Guynemer managed to shoot down at least two German aircraft with the Magic Machine.

However the strain of continued aerial combat eventually wore down his constitution and chipped away at his combat abilities.  As a consequence his death, shot down while attacking a two-seater Aviatik neat Poelcapelle (near Ypres), could not be regarded as a great surprise.

Having been awarded the Medaille Militaire, Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur and Officier de la Legion d'Honneur, Guynemer had previously been shot down seven times (out of approximately 600 combat missions) and survived.

The German authorities credited Kurt Wisserman of Jasta 3 with Guynemer's downing, although much of the French populace refused to acknowledge his death.  His body was never found.

In WW1 an "ace" was a pilot who scored five confirmed "kills".

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