Jump to content
Shiloh

Ace of Aces - Rene Fonck

Recommended Posts

I've always been curious about Rene Fonck, the great French ace as he was a mere 5 confirmed victories behind Richthofen at the end of the war. He claims he only received one bullet to his craft over the entire war and had over 120 victories. He was brash for sure and was generally disliked, or perhaps misunderstood. Regardless, I am curious about him and his curious hunting style in the skies where he tended toward avoiding the dogfight and looked for quick, decisive victories.

 

His book, Ace of Aces is on the way and the second link below provides some excerpts that I found quite interesting. Have any of you read about Fonck?

 

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6921351-ace-of-aces

 

http://acepilots.com/wwi/fr_fonck.html

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Several elements about Fonck in this old post you started in Nov 2011:

 

Mannock's Rules

 

Also a personal anecdote. While in junior high school, already passionate about military aviation and aces, I had a couple of years with a classmate named Ludovic Fonck. He confirmed me that he was one of René Fock's relatives, and actually, at 13, he had the same baby face with wide eyes that can be seen on some close pictures of Fonck.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's very little written about Fonck. The best I've read was an article in Over the Front magazine: http://www.overthefront.com/Over-the-Front-2012-Issues.php

 

He seems to have been a man of strong nerves and determination. Several times he shot down German aircraft that he had surprised with only a few bullets. The French system of confirming kills was strict, so it's possible that he was in fact the ace of aces of the whole Great War, with even more kills than Manfred v. Richthofen.

 

I'm not sure about the credibility of the stories that picture Fonck as somebody who was particularly disliked by his comrades. It's possible that envy had a lot to do with it, and the fact that Fonck was no "party animal" and didn't participate in the drinking and whoring activities that were so popular with many pilots.

 

He definitely deserves a modern and well-researched biography in English. My French is terrible, so I don't what's available on him in his native country.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm with Hasse Wind there - a well researched book in English is over-due.

I wonder if there are French books about their aces? But then I couldn't read them anyway...

 

Maybe it wouldn't be a thriller though.

When the man shot down so many planes without catching more than a single bullet, then it is most likely

that he always surprised his "prey" totally, shot them down before they even knew he was there, and then

disappeared again (for which the fast and strong SPAD XIII is predestinated).

I guess he never joined into any sort of turn fighting and furballs.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In truth even at the national level, Fonck was, and is still shunned by most of the French aviation press. His "petainist adventure" seriously tarnished his reputation after the war, him who had already lost much of its fame in the 30s, where he was came out of the closet for parades and visits to units and was deliberately forgotten in his last years. In contrast Guynemer has a national hero image, official steles and public places dedicated to him, Fonck has, to my knowledge, simply received one deadlock or alley in tribute.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There were good detailed writings (four parts) about René Fonck called "From light to shadow" (iirc) in " Le Fana de l'Aviation" earlier this year.

Edited by corsaire31

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's very little written about Fonck. The best I've read was an article in Over the Front magazine: http://www.overthefr...2012-Issues.php

 

He seems to have been a man of strong nerves and determination. Several times he shot down German aircraft that he had surprised with only a few bullets. The French system of confirming kills was strict, so it's possible that he was in fact the ace of aces of the whole Great War, with even more kills than Manfred v. Richthofen.

 

I'm not sure about the credibility of the stories that picture Fonck as somebody who was particularly disliked by his comrades. It's possible that envy had a lot to do with it, and the fact that Fonck was no "party animal" and didn't participate in the drinking and whoring activities that were so popular with many pilots.

 

He definitely deserves a modern and well-researched biography in English. My French is terrible, so I don't what's available on him in his native country.

 

Thanks for the link Hasse Wind. I'm not sure about his reputation but much of what I've heard was that people generally did not like him. His best friend Lt. Claude Haegelen, (a 22 victory ace), was quoted as saying of Fonck:

"He is not a truthful man. He is a tiresome braggart, and even a bore, but in the air, a slashing rapier, a steel blade tempered with unblemished courage and priceless skill. ... But afterwards he can't forget how he rescued you, nor let you forget it. He can almost make you wish he hadn't helped you in the first place."

 

I'm with Hasse Wind there - a well researched book in English is over-due.

I wonder if there are French books about their aces? But then I couldn't read them anyway...

 

Maybe it wouldn't be a thriller though.

When the man shot down so many planes without catching more than a single bullet, then it is most likely

that he always surprised his "prey" totally, shot them down before they even knew he was there, and then

disappeared again (for which the fast and strong SPAD XIII is predestinated).

I guess he never joined into any sort of turn fighting and furballs.

 

Maybe reading this book will teach me how to fight in a Spad. :biggrin:

 

There were good detailed writings (four parts) about René Fonck called "From light to shadow" (iirc) in " Le Fana de l'Aviation" earlier this year.

 

Is there a link to this somewhere?

 

Anyhow, I learned so much from reading McCudden's book "Flying Fury" and I hope to learn just as much about Fonck and his tactics. McCudden did his best to simply get above people by improving the performance of his SE5a to the point that his enemies (many were high-ceiling 2-seaters) would almost think it improbable that anyone could be above them.

Edited by Shiloh

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Maybe reading this book will teach me how to fight in a Spad.

Best to fight in a SPAD is "hit and run" tactics.

The craft is very powerful and therefor fast, and it climbs well. But the vision isn't too good for turn fighting.

So you'd better attack from a superior height.

The quiet, sturdy SPAD will provide a stabile gun platform for well-aimed shooting.

If he didn't fall, you pass your victim by diving even further, to get away from his guns.

You climb back to superior altitude once you are out of his range and repeat the attack,

or, if he looks like a determined ace, you could also just fly away and leave him alone.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The problem with the SPAD in OFF P3 is that it's speed is not good enough to fight against AI planes that have no weight. Basically this means that a German fighter that was much slower than the SPAD in real life is able to catch the SPAD, because the AI planes are not bothered by the weight of fuel and ammo.

 

This can be fixed by using the appropriate FM mods by Herr Prop-Wasche.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The problem with the SPAD in OFF P3 is that it's speed is not good enough to fight against AI planes that have no weight. Basically this means that a German fighter that was much slower than the SPAD in real life is able to catch the SPAD, because the AI planes are not bothered by the weight of fuel and ammo.

 

This can be fixed by using the appropriate FM mods by Herr Prop-Wasche.

 

...and will be fixed in WOFF, if I remember right.

 

Yep. As a reminder, the version of HPW's FM mod built into OFFice fully supports Ace skins, fixing another problem that will be fixed in WOFF.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

He put a few rounds into my Roland, but my rear gunner put a few into him and he fled, engine smoking moderately. I took the flight of 3 back over the mud and I landed at the nearest airbase as my control of the plane was very difficult.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Decent book so far. This was originally written in French just after the war then later translated to English. I wish they had converted meters to feet as I like to know at which height he is flying or from which distance he attacked. Whose idea was it not to go with the metric system in America?

 

Anyhow, Fonck's personality does come across in this book and I can sense how he might have rubbed some people the wrong way. There are some gaping holes in his fighting history where 3 or more months are omitted and I would have liked more. This book is only 130 pages so additional content would allow for a more thorough understanding of France's greatest ace. I'm more than halfway through and look forward to the rest.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Decent book so far. This was originally written in French just after the war then later translated to English. I wish they had converted meters to feet as I like to know at which height he is flying or from which distance he attacked. Whose idea was it not to go with the metric system in America?

 

Ballpark, multiply by 3

 

Cheers,

shredward

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks guys. It just takes away from the enjoyment of reading when I have to put energy towards mental math... my least favorite subject. :huh:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, I attended junior high in the Carter era when we had to learn metric.

The decimal system is easy, but we, the USA, never did adopt much of it

 

One meter is roughly 3 feet. Good enough for flying but not construction.

I prefer metric when machining. Used to run CNC machines and all was done metric even if spec were fractional english.

 

Sometimes I still gotta think when comparing fluid volumes between the two.

Cooking can be a PITA when conversions come in.

Drinking is easy, jusy but the bigger bottle.....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I read a title that was supposed to be his personal memoirs. Perhaps it is the same one you are getting. Seems very much from what I read that Foncke was very misunderstood. Its very hard to tell really though unless you meet someone in person whether they come off as a jerk or not. I have a hunch though after reading his actual words, that he may have been mis-interpreted. Very focused, precise and disciplined people often are, especially when they try to teach others who want to attain their skill level. Many are those who desire it, but few who want to do the severe work it often requires to accomplish. After reading his work though, it seems his style is very similar to that of Erich Hartmann the top scoring ace of WWII. Hartmann's method was :SEE/DECIDE/ATTACK/and amusingly enough...Coffee Break. This last item could better be described as (withdraw and review). This seems very much like how Foncke described his methodology, and coupled with a zoom and boom type fighter like the SPAD, (the WWI equivalent of a velocity fighter such as Hatmann's ME109), I think you have a very stunning parallel.

 

ZZ.

Edited by zoomzoom

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Fonck had the same attitude to air fighting as did McCudden, ie cause the greatest amount of damage to the enemy with the least risk to oneself. And, like McCudden, he deliberately and methodically targeted two-seater aircraft. Having been one himself (with 500 hours to his credit) he knew just how important the role of the two-seater reconnaissance was.

 

Again, like McCudden, he often flew alone, high above the lines searching for two-seaters. He could, and often did, score against enemy fighters; but he saw his role as not just a fighter but more as thinker. And that meant depriving the enemy of knowledge. 72% (54 of 75) of his victories were two-seaters.

 

As a comparison below are some other notable pilots victories against two-seaters.

 

McCudden 45 of 57 - 78%

Guynemer 37 of 53 - 69%

von Richthofen 42 of 80 - 52%

Voss 24 of 48 - 50%

Nungesser 14 of 43 - 38%

MacLaren 21 of 54 - 38% (of Winged Victory fame)

Madon 14 of 41 - 34%

Mannock 20 of 61 - 32%

Udet 17 of 60 - 27%

Collishaw 10 of 60 - 16%

Beauchamp -Proctor 9 of 54 - 16%

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Fonck had the same attitude to air fighting as did McCudden, ie cause the greatest amount of damage to the enemy with the least risk to oneself. And, like McCudden, he deliberately and methodically targeted two-seater aircraft. Having been one himself (with 500 hours to his credit) he knew just how important the role of the two-seater reconnaissance was.

 

Again, like McCudden, he often flew alone, high above the lines searching for two-seaters. He could, and often did, score against enemy fighters; but he saw his role as not just a fighter but more as thinker. And that meant depriving the enemy of knowledge. 72% (54 of 75) of his victories were two-seaters.

 

As a comparison below are some other notable pilots victories against two-seaters.

 

McCudden 45 of 57 - 78%

Guynemer 37 of 53 - 69%

von Richthofen 42 of 80 - 52%

Voss 24 of 48 - 50%

Nungesser 14 of 43 - 38%

MacLaren 21 of 54 - 38% (of Winged Victory fame)

Madon 14 of 41 - 34%

Mannock 20 of 61 - 32%

Udet 17 of 60 - 27%

Collishaw 10 of 60 - 16%

Beauchamp -Proctor 9 of 54 - 16%

Thanks for the data PiP! Much appreciated.

 

Taking out a two seater is not an easy task especially when they fly in groups of three and cover each other's ass so to speak as they learned to do as the war progressed. A lone two seater is a different story.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.