Who's Who - Benno Fiala von Fernbrugg

Benno Fiala von Fernbrugg Benno Fiala von Fernbrugg (1890-1964) was one of the Austro-Hungarian empire's highest-scoring air aces of the First World War with 28 victories to his credit.

Born on 16 June 1890 in Vienna to an aristocratic family, von Fernbrugg discovered an early enthusiasm for aviation which led him to pass as an observer on 28 July 1914 (the day Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia), after which he served in various observation and reconnaissance missions in Galicia.

From the earliest stages of the war von Fernbrugg recognised the potential of radio in providing accurate positioning data to artillery teams on the ground.  He also advocated the use of on-board machine guns as well as the provision of cameras for reconnaissance missions.

In November 1914 von Fernbrugg was awarded the Silver Merit medal for his actions in guiding a railway convoy to safety while under attack by Russian troops.

Although he actually downed his first aircraft - a Russian biplane - in June 1915, the success was not confirmed and he had to wait until the following April for his first recognised 'kill' on the Italian Front while serving with Flik 19.  He followed this five days later by setting fire to an Italian Zeppelin.

Having recovered from an anti-aircraft wound suffered at the start of 1917 von Fernbrugg was attached to first Flik 41J and then Flik 12D where he flew a Hansa-Brandeburg D.I.  He was subsequently posted to Filk 56J in November 1917 and to command of Flik 51 two months later.

Among his 28 confirmed victories von Fernbrugg earned admiration for successfully downing the English ace Alan Jerrard in the latter's Sopwith Camel on 30 March 1918 (Jerrard winning a V.C. for his actions that day).

Von Fernbrugg's post-war career saw him attain an engineering degree at Vienna University and enter into partnership with the Mitsubishi Company in Japan in 1928.

He died on 29 October 1964 in Vienna aged 74.

A 'Tour' was a period of front-line service.

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