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In the list of victories, the name René Fonck figures just behind that of Manfred von Richthofen. Although he had shot down 75 aircraft, he remained practitically unknown by the majority. In 1914 he was 20 years old.

Bernard Palmieri, Co-author “René Fonck, the Ace, the Man”: “Lieutenant Fonck was a highly skilled and courageous pilot, who, being very close to his mechanic and gunsmiths, improved the technical aspects of his aircraft continuously, and also checked all its armament and ammunition.

Possessing exceptional eyesight, René Fonck saw the enemy well before they saw him in the air. In addition his short height allowed him to withstand the forces of acceleration better. It should also be noted that he developed a veritable science of air combat, the principles of which he very capably applied.

Firstly, when approaching the enemy, you must not be spotted. The element of surprise is essential. A minimum of should be fired at the vital areas of the aircraft, mainly its engine or the pilot, in such a manner as to be certain of a kill.

In comparison with other fighter pilots, such as Charles Nungesser who was also a friend of Fonck's, Charles Nungesser, had fighting in his blood, and was injured many times, which was not at all the case with Fonck.

Fonck evaluated the opposing enemies aircraft, studying them from every angle, including their weakest, and most vulnerable points, and in taking them by surprise, destroyed them. If he judged his 'plane to be too exposed, he turned tail and returned to base. So, the aircraft he shot down, hardly saw him coming, and when the downed pilots finally became aware of what had happened, Fonck had already disappeared. 

Lieutenant Fonck had never been shot down, nor was his machine ever hit in combat. When the 1918 armistice arrived, Lieutenant Fonck was the top Allied aviation ace. He was well known, and even became the standard-bearer in the 1919 victory parade.

It's not really surprising that René Fonck never achieved the notoriety of Georges Guynemer, because Captain Guynemer, who died in battle during 1917, was quickly chosen by the aeronautical service of the army, together with the air force, as their hero, and so became a national hero.”

René Fonck remained a quiet, discrete man, who never sought fame or honours. In 1953 he died of a stroke at the age of 59.

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