René Paul Fonck, the highest scoring Allied ace
in World War I
, was born in Saulcy-sur-Meurthe, France
on March 27
. When he was conscripted in 1914
, he refused to serve in the French Air Service
. A year in the trenches would change his mind, and after more than 500 hours flying reconnaissance
missions, he was assigned to Spa103. Flying the Spad S. VII
, Fonck tallied up 75 confirmed kills, twice shooting down 6 opponents in one day.
Fonck was a professional. During engagements, he studied the tactics of his opponent and adjusted accordingly. He conserved his ammunition and flew as close as possible to his target in order to hit vital parts of their aircraft. He was such a skilled pilot that in the entire span of the war, his plane was hit with only one bullet.
Not one to let his accomplishments go unnoticed, even Fonck's friends complained of his bragging. Fonck claimed as many as 125 kills, commenting that he "put the bullets into the target as if [he] placed them by hand."
Fonck died in Paris in June of 1953.