AA37907 SPAD XIII, S29005 Major Francesco Baracca, 91st Squadriglia, Italian Air Force, April 1918
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When Italy entered the war in May 1915, they joined forces with the British and French, initially fighting against the Austro-Hungarian empire. Francesco Baracca, son of a wealthy landowner and former cavalryman qualified as a pilot in 1912, He was already an accomplished airman by the time Italy entered the war and despite the fact he was flying older French designed aircraft, he managed to claim Italy’s first aerial victory of the war on 7th April 1916. Baracca’s aircraft carried his personal emblem on the port side of the fuselage, a black prancing horse, which was the Arms of the Baracca family and in recognition of his time as a cavalry officer. As with many of the great aces of WWI, Baracca would not survive the conflict, falling to ground fire whilst strafing enemy trenches on 19th June, 1918. His score of 34 aerial victories earned him the title of Italy’s ‘Ace of aces’ and celebrated national hero, whilst also becoming one of the highest scoring aces of the Great War.