How Well Do You Know WWI Flying Aces?

John Miller

Image: Rebel Media

About This Quiz

In 1903, the Wright Brothers sent the first heavier-than-air plane into the skies over North Carolina. About a decade later, tens of thousands of planes would clash in the skies over Europe during World War I. The airplane came of age … in a time of carnage. How much do you know about the best pilots of the Great War?

During WWI, only a small number of pilots qualified as “aces.” Do you know how these men managed to earn their legendary status? Furthermore, only a very tiny percentage became “ace of aces,” and these pilots were truly death from above. Do you recall the most celebrated aces from this terrible conflict?

Manfred Albrecht Freiherr von Richthofen had the long name but a much more memorable nickname. Do you remember what enemy pilots called him? He led his men into battle all over the Western Front.

There are many notable names from the air war. They include René Fonck, Billy Bishop, Donald MacLaren, Josef Jacobs, Ernst Udet and Eddie Rickenbacker. Their names may now be collecting the dust of history, but they’re still celebrated as some of the best early pilots in to soar through the bullet-riddled skies.

Hop in your Fokker for takeoff and do battle with the Sopwiths. Maybe your Albatross will help you survive an Allied squadron attack … or maybe you’ll crash into flames. Take our World War I ace quiz now!

According to Allied standards of World War I, an "ace" pilot shot down at least _____ enemy planes.

During the Great War, an Allied ace was generally someone who shot down at least five enemy planes. Some pilots shot down many more than five.

True or false, were fighter pilots the only ones granted ace status during the war?

False. Any crew that shot down enemy planes could be credited with air victories. That included bomber and reconnaissance teams.

Manfred von Richthofen was a pilot for the German air force. What was his nickname?

During WWI, no pilot was more famous than Manfred von Richthofen. He was a German ace known as the Red Baron.

The Red Baron began the war in what position?

Manfred von Richthofen was a German cavalryman at the beginning of the war. He began pilot training and immediately showed promise in the skies.

Albert Ball was a famous ace pilot of the war. Where was he from?

Albert Ball was a phenomenal pilot from Britain. He started his war in the army and transferred to the Royal Air Force, where he became a legend.

How many air victories did British pilot Albert Ball claim during the war?

Ball clearly had a knack for guiding his fighter through combat. During the war, he logged 44 kills, making him one of the deadliest airmen of the war.

True or false, was Germany’s Max Immelmann that country’s first ace of the war?

It’s true, before the Red Baron, there was Max Immelmann, a true celebrity of the skies. He was Germany’s first ace, and as such, he was held in very high regard.

Andrew Beauchamp-Proctor was a flying ace from which nation?

Andrew Beauchamp-Proctor was a South African star. He served in the infantry, was honorably discharged, and returned to service as a pilot who recorded 54 air victories.

How many air victories did the Red Baron record during the war?

The Red Baron was a blizzard of bullets in the skies during the war. He is officially credited with 80 kills, more than any other pilot of the conflict.

Billy Bishop was a Canadian ace who is credited with how many kills?

Bishop nearly equaled the Red Baron’s deadly proficiency. The Canadian not only recorded 72 kills during the war, but he lived to tell about it, too.

What innovation did German ace Max Immelmann bring to the war?

Max Immelmann was a fabulously talented pilot who invented a loop-turn manuever that helped him dodge bullets and dive into position over enemy fighters. It became known as the "Immelmann Turn."

James McCudden was a British ace who started the war as a ______.

James McCudden, like many pilots of the era, was recruited from another part of the service. He was originally a mechanic, and he eventually became a British ace who scored 57 victories.

Canadian ace Billy Bishop was awarded the Victoria Cross (Britain’s highest military honor) for launching a solo attack on _____.

In 1917, Bishop flew behind enemy lines and attacked a German aerodrome (airfield) all by himself. For his rather reckless audacity, he earned the Victoria Cross.

True or false, did the Red Baron actually fly a red plane?

When he was promoted to commander, the Red Baron got more than a little cocky. He went so far as to paint his fighter red, so that his enemies would know exactly who he was.

In March 1917, British pilot Edwin Benbow engaged the Red Baron in a dog fight. What happened?

Edwin engaged the famous Red Baron ... and shot him down. But the German ace managed to land his damaged plane and was soon in the air again.

The Red Baron was promoted to lead a famous German squadron. What was their name?

The Red Baron led the "Flying Circus," renowned for their brightly colored planes and the fact that they moved around the front, fighting wherever their services were needed.

Why did the pilots under the Red Baron’s command paint their planes red, like their leader?

The Red Baron loved to be flamboyant, but the men he commanded didn’t want enemy pilots to be able to easily identify (and shoot down) their leader, so they painted their aircraft red, too.

German ace Max Immelmann was shot down and killed in June 1916. What effect did his death have?

Max Immelmann had an air of immortality, so when he was killed, all of Germany went into shock. The air force even temporarily grounded other star pilots to prevent another public relations debacle.

Andrew Beauchamp-Proctor had 54 air victories during the war. How did he die?

It seems that few of WWI’s ace pilots lived to tell their stories. Beauchamp-Proctor had 54 victories, but then crashed and died while in training just after the war.

In July 1917, the Red Baron was wounded in action. He was shot in the _____.

During a notable dog fight against a British pilot, the Red Baron was shot in the head but survived and even managed to land his plane. He endured a difficult recovery but eventually took to the skies again.

British ace Donald Cunnell shot and wounded the Red Baron in a dog fight. How did Cunnell’s war end?

Cunnell instantly found fame for wounding the Red Baron. Less than a week later, though, Cunnell was shot down and killed by German anti-aircraft fire.

What was an "ace of aces"?

To become an ace, you needed five air victories. An "ace of aces," however, had 20 or more victories during the conflict, making them the most notable air fighters.

Rene Fonck had more air victories than any other Allied pilot. How many victories did he have?

Fonck was nearly as deadly as the Red Baron. He had 75 air victories, making his home country of France very proud.

How many WWI "ace of aces" were from the United States?

Of the dozens of pilots who achieved "ace of ace" status during WWI, just two were from the United States. They recorded a combined 46 air victories.

How many air victories did U.S. pilot Eddie Rickenbacker record during the war?

Rickenbacker was America’s number one pilot in WWI. He’s credited with 26 kills, more than any other air fighter from the United States.

British ace Raymond Collishaw supposedly "gave" some of his air victories to new Allied pilots. Why?

By some accounts Collishaw "gave" some of his victories to new pilots in order to help them feel more confident during battle. Some people credit him with more than 80 kills, which would top the Red Baron.

True or false, did France ace Rene Fonck claim far more victories than appear on his official tally?

Fonck claimed more than 140 victories, far more than the 75 on his final score. Even if only a few of his unofficial claims are true, he may well have been the deadliest pilot ever.

Ernst Udet was Germany’s second-leading pilot of WWI. He had how many air victories?

Udet wasn’t too far off of the Red Baron’s pace of 80 air victories — he had 62 himself. He also survived the war and eventually became a bigwig in Germany’s Luftwaffe during WWII.

How did the Red Baron’s flying career end?

In 1918, the Red Baron’s bloody war finally came to an end. He was shot down and killed in 1918, after he’d already killed dozens of Allied pilots.

The Russian Empire’s top ace was Alexander Kazakov. How many air victories did he record?

The Russian Empire didn’t have quite the same impact of other nations in the air war. But Alexander Kazakov did plenty of the dirty work, recording 20 kills.

About HowStuffWorks Play

How much do you know about dinosaurs? What is an octane rating? And how do you use a proper noun? Lucky for you, HowStuffWorks Play is here to help. Our award-winning website offers reliable, easy-to-understand explanations about how the world works. From fun quizzes that bring joy to your day, to compelling photography and fascinating lists, HowStuffWorks Play offers something for everyone. Sometimes we explain how stuff works, other times, we ask you, but we’re always exploring in the name of fun! Because learning is fun, so stick with us!

Explore More Quizzes