What exactly makes a war hero? It must be more than the side you’re on.
No matter your perspective, no matter who and what they fought for, extreme bravery and outstanding skills made some men legendary. With their actions
made those liveries even more meaningful and eternal.
Picture yourself at the helm of a flimsy fighter plane of 400kg like Red Baron’s famous Fokker, surrounded by enemy planes, all of them piloted by other brave and ambitious pilots grasping for the chance of putting down the most-wanted enemy. How big must a man’s soul be for him to be able to fly, over and over, to the eye of the storm, facing hell in the skies?
How lonely must a compassionate youngster like Count Francesco Barraca must
have felt while counting victories in between the clouds? And how strong a passion must be for a Count to leave the comfort of his life behind for the
sake of the fight?
These men were driven by the thrill of the fight, but also by the thrill
of flying at speed. That was certainly the case for the America’s “Ace of Aces”, who embraced the service at 27, after setting land speed records at Daytona and competing in the first edition of Indianapolis 500 in the Maxwell Special race cars. And despite his fearless style, like when famously fighting seven enemies at once on his own, Rickenbacker was one of the few who came out of the battle safe and sound, to live until his eighties.
Same can’t be said of The Legendary Georges Guynemer, who was shot down after two incredible years as a fighter pilot, in which he summed no less than 54 victories
. Despite being an aristocrat, he was a knowledgeable and skilled mechanic, who constantly developed his planes, like the Hispano-Suiza powered SPAD. The engine builder paid tribute by using the Guynemer’s squadron emblemas a hood ornament
for all their high-end road cars. His death was sorely felt by all the French.
It was to avoid such a loss and a morale breakdown, that Billy Bishop
was removed from combat while he was still a valuable and feared pilot.
However, his superiors were afraid that his larger-than-life feats of courage would
get him killed, By then, the Canadian ace had already 72 victories, due mainly to his skills as a marksman, allegedly acquired while shooting a plague of squirrels in his parents’ house as a kid.
Different backgrounds, different drives, but the same chase of glory and justice
flew these men to glory. Their feats are as iconic as their liveries.