Flavio Baracchini

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Flavio Torello Baracchini
Born 28 July 1895
Villafranca in Lunigiana, Kingdom of Italy
Died 18 August 1928
Rome, Kingdom of Italy
Allegiance Kingdom of Italy
Service/branch Corpo Aeronautico Militare
Years of service ca 1915–1918
Rank Tenente (Lieutenant)
Unit 7a Squadriglia/26a Squadriglia, 81a Squadriglia, 76a Squadriglia
Awards Gold Medal of Military Valor
Other work Died while developing munitions for aviators

Lieutenant Flavio Torello Baracchini [ˈflavjo barakˈkini] was an Italian World War I fighter ace credited with 21 confirmed and nine unconfirmed aerial victories. His confirmed victory total ranked him fourth among Italian aces of the war.[1]

After the war he worked as an inventor, working in the areas of aviation communications and explosives. He died in 1928 as a result of injuries that he received during an accident in his laboratory.

Military career[edit]

Flavio Baracchini was born at Villafranca in Lunigiana on 28 July 1895. He was educated at technical schools in La Spezia. As World War I heated up, he was assigned to the Italian Army's 3rd Engineer Battalion. However, in Autumn 1915, he reported to the SIT School in Torino for pilot's training. He was awarded licenses on 15 October and 1 December 1915; he then qualified on Voisins on 27 January 1916. On 28 February 1916, he was posted to 7a Squadriglia (later redesignated 26a Squadriglia) and piloted a Voisin for them until 20 November 1916. In December 1916, he was commissioned as a Sottotenente. He also reported to Cascina Costa to train on Nieuport fighters.[2][3][4]

However, Baracchini had no success as a fighter pilot until May 1917, when he was assigned to the newly formed 81a Squadriglia.[3] His claim of the 15th went unconfirmed, but he got his first victory five days later, when he shot down an Albatros south of Marco. He scored again on the 23rd and 25th. He scored once more, on 6 June 1917, while flying a Nieuport 11, before upgrading to a Nieuport 17. He used his new plane to tally four more triumphs that month. By the 22nd, he had scored eight victories by fighting 35 times in 39 days. For this extraordinary display of prowess, Flavio Baracchini became the first Italian fighter pilot to win the Gold Medal for Military Valor.[2]

The Hanriot HD. 1 operated by Baracchini, on display at the Italian Air Force Museum near to Bracciano, Rome

He transferred to 76a Squadriglia and a Hanriot HD.1[1] on 14 July 1917. He also evaluated a loaner Spad VII for possible use by the squadron; it was rejected.[5]

Baracchini won twice in July. In August, he was credited with two more victories, on the 3rd and 8th, while his first claim for an observation balloon went unconfirmed.[1] He was so seriously wounded in the left jaw on 8 August 1917 that he was out of action for nine months.[2][4]

Upon his return, he again had an unconfirmed credit on a balloon, on 3 April 1918. Then he was transferred back to 81a Squadriglia. He had four confirmed and four unconfirmed wins for May.[2]

He began his final month of combat with a double victory on 15 June, with a third claim going unconfirmed. On the 18th, he once again was denied credit for downing a balloon. On the 21st, he finally became a balloon buster, for his nineteenth credit. He scored again on both the 22nd and the 25th, to bring his total to 21 confirmed and nine unconfirmed.[1] However, on the 25th, he was again severely wounded, this time when he was shot down by machine gun fire.[4]

Post war life[edit]

He survived the war, and quit flying in 1921. He turned to inventing items that would be useful to fliers. His first invention was a signalling device for communicating with airplanes, which was adopted by Italian aviators. He then began development of an explosive mixture in a laboratory. It ignited accidentally and burned him severely on 29 July 1928.[3] He lingered a short while, before succumbing on 18 August 1928.[1][4]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e "Flavio Torello Baracchini". The Aerodrome. www.theaerodrome.com. Retrieved 2009-09-03. 
  2. ^ a b c d Franks et al 1997, pp. 133-134.
  3. ^ a b c Franks 2000, pp. 76-77.
  4. ^ a b c d Cooper, Ralph. "Flavio Torello Baracchini 1895–1928". Early Birds of Aviation. Retrieved 2009-09-03. 
  5. ^ Spad VII Aces of World War I. p. 66. 

References[edit]

  • Franks, Norman; Guest, Russell; Alegi, Gregory. Above the War Fronts: The British Two-seater Bomber Pilot and Observer Aces, the British Two-seater Fighter Observer Aces, and the Belgian, Italian, Austro-Hungarian and Russian Fighter Aces, 1914–1918: Volume 4 of Fighting Airmen of WWI Series: Volume 4 of Air Aces of WWI. Grub Street, 1997. ISBN 1-898697-56-6, ISBN 978-1-898697-56-5.