The Concept of the Ace
The bold exploits of the fighter pilots caught the attention of the public. Aerial duels fought by young men in the clear skies satisfied the heroic notion of warfare; something that the bloody trench fighting could no longer do. Each nation had its air heroes, although many of them had only short lives. Those who destroyed five enemy aircraft were referred to as ‘aces’. The greatest of these, of any side, was the German, Manfred von Richthofen, who shot down 80 opponents. The top British ‘ace’ was Edward ‘Mick’ Mannock.
France’s was Rene Fonck, but he never achieved the popularity of their more flamboyant Georges Guynemer.
Australia had Robert Little who flew with Britain's Royal Naval Air Service and achieved at least 47 victories.
By 1918, Richthofen, Mannock, Guynemer and Little had all been killed.
For more on the death of Manfred von Richthofen please see the post Who Killed the Red Baron?