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British Industrial History

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Philip Fletcher Fullard

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Air Commodore Philip Fletcher Fullard CBE, DSO, MC and Bar, AFC (27 June 1897 – 24 April 1984) was a First World War flying ace, and was one of the most successful fighter pilots of the Royal Flying Corps. He was the top scoring UK ace to fly Nieuports, scoring 40 victories, and had a reputation as a superb combat leader.

Born on 26 July 1897 and educated at King Edward VI school, Norwich, Fullard was a gifted sportsman at school, captaining the school hockey and football teams. He subsequently became a reserve team player (playing Centre Half) at Norwich City Football Club.

Fullard enlisted as an Army officer in the British Army in 1915, initially with the Royal Fusiliers. Learning to fly at his own expense, he transferred to the Royal Flying Corps later that year.

After training at the School of Aeronautics in Oxford and at Netheravon and Upavon, Fullard received his pilot's certificate in December 1916. Fullard soloed after only three hours flying time. On account of his exceptional flying ability, Fullard was initially retained as an instructor but eventually joined No. 1 Squadron, RFC, in May 1917.

Flying various models of Nieuport scouts throughout his combat career, Fullard scored steadily over the next six months. He opened his victory log with two victories in May, followed by five in June, eight in July, and twelve in August. In September, Fullard damaged blood vessels in an eye while flying, resulting in temporary blindness that grounded him for much of the month. He recovered, to score eleven wins in October, and two in November.

Two days after his 40th victory he suffered a broken leg in an inter-squadron soccer match. He did not return to duty until near the end of the war.

In the inter war years Fullard remained in the Royal Air Force to command the only squadron attached to the Army of Occupation.

He later commanded No. 2 Squadron, in 1933, and No. 5 Squadron beginning in July 1935.

At the outbreak of Second World War, Fullard was given command of No. 14 (Fighter) Group. His later military service during the war included a period as Duty Air Commodore at HQ Fighter Command and Air Officer Commanding, No. 246 Group.

He eventually retired on 20 November 1946 at the age of 49.

He died, aged 86, in a hospital at Broadstairs in Kent, England.

Fullard's 40 victories consisted of 1 shared aircraft captured, 15 aircraft destroyed and 22 'out of control', including 2 shared. He held the Distinguished Service Order, Military Cross and bar, Air Force Cross, and was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

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