Monday, July 24, 2017

Italian Ace, Prince Fulco Ruffo di Calabria

He was born in Naples August 12, 1884. His noble family's patriotism was prominent in Italian military history since at least 1797. He volunteered for reserve officer's training with the 11th Foggia Light Cavalry Regiment at the age of 20.
Calabria returned to military duty shortly before Italy's entry into World War I, and was assigned to the Battaglione Aviatori in December 1914. After pilot's training he was posted to the 4a Squadriglia Artiglia, an artillery coordination unit and then to 2a Squadriglia in January 1916. In May of that year Calabria underwent further training on Nieuports and he was assigned to 1a Squadriglia as a fighter pilot. He won his first victory there, shared with Francesco Baracca in August 1916. He would end the year in the 70a Squadriglia with 2 confirmed and 2 unconfirmed victories. 

1917 began as 1916 for Calabria with 2 confirmed and 2 unconfirmed victories by the end of February but his luck began to change when in March he was transferred out of the reserves. He was promoted to Tenente (lieutenant) and in May he started flying Nieuport for 91a Squadriglia, commanded by Francesco Baracca. Here he ended 1917 with his total victories at 16.

Upon the death of Baracca in June 1918, Calabria assumed command of the renowned "Squadron of Aces". He relinquished command of 91a Squadriglia in September to Ferruccio Ranza, after suffering a nervous breakdown.
After recovery, he was handed command of 10th Gruppo. In late October 1918, he was shot down while flying over the Austrian lines but managed to land in friendly territory.

He would end the war with 20 confirmed victories, in 53 combats, making him the fifth highest scoring Italian flying ace of World War I. His honors and awards were numerous.

As the pictures show, his personal emblem was a black skull and crossbones painted on the fuselage of his plane, whether it was his original Nieuport 11s, or his later Nieuport 17, and SPAD VII airplanes.

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