From 1915 to 1918, between the river Piave and the slopes of the hills of ‘Montello’, the skies were covered by the wonders of aeronautics that science and production had continued to perfect, while on the ground the smell of gunpowder and the perfumes of the forest, farms and the flowers mixed together. Italy was under siege and many valiant men left their wives, their children and their mothers to defend their country. Francesco Baracca was one of these men.
He was born in 1888, and after attending the military academy in the cavalry department, he obtained his flight license (No. 1037) at the pilot academy at Bètheny in France; it was July 9th 1912 and it wasn’t long before Francesco was soon recognized for his natural aero-acrobatic skills.
With the First World War breaking in Italy, Baracca returned home and became a protagonist in the first successes of Italian war aviation.
He led the so-called “squadron of the axes” composed of the best aviators of the Royal Army.
His machine was a ‘Spad S.VII’, with the black Prancing Horse painted on the white background of the fuselage side.
A total of 34 victorious air battles where his, until that ill-fated day of 19 June 1918 when his plane was shot down near Nervesa della Battaglia by enemy forces.
From that day, the myth of Baracca continues to live thanks to another source of Italian pride and renowned skill: Ferrari.
Enzo Ferrari wrote: “When I won the first circuit of ‘The Savio’ in Ravenna in 1923, I met Conte Enrico Baracca, father of the hero: from that meeting the next was born with his mother, Contessa
Paolina. It was she who told me one day: ‘Ferrari, put on your automobiles the prancing horse of my son. It will bring you luck.’