Family tree of Jean NAVARRE

Aviator, World Wars & Contemporary Wars, Soldier in the First World War

FrenchBorn Jean NAVARRE

First pilot ever to shoot against another one starting the air warfare, during World War I

Born on August 08, 1895 in Jouy-sur-Morin , France

Died on June 10, 1919 in Vélizy-Villacoublay , France

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Navarre proved to be an abnormal child whose attitude produced problems to his teachers. He was more keen in escaping to the countryside together with his little brother. It so happened that early in 1914 he was strongly impressed by the view of a plane and was enchanted on the idea of examining it and get invited by the pilot to look at its inside. The beginning of World War I was definitely a surprise to him, a youngster at his 19, but he could not hesitate to ask a transfer to an aviation unit. Been accepted to the MS12 squadron he was to execute reconnaissance flights on a Morane-Saulnier L aircraft, nicknamed ‘parasol’ due to the big upper wing covering most of its thin fuselage. In this plane on April the 1st 1915 he shot down a German patrol plane with his rifle. He strongly believed that this was a war where people kill their enemies ; there was no room for a happy inoffensive ride in the skies. On purpose he decided to mark his presence on the skies over Verdun challenging the opponent. When he received his new fighter plane a new Nieuport 11, he painted it all red. Well before the 'Red Baron' appeared in the skies , it was Navarre's all-red plane that became famous for its colour.

Navarre has also worked into his mind all possible ways of arming his plane with better weapons and tried even to install rockets. In the mean time the Germans came up with a unique weapon : a synchronized machine gun firing through the propeller with a help of a mechanical switch that interrupted the firing when the propeller was passing in front of the machine gun nozzle. The Germans have thus shot down easily a huge number of allied planes until the Allies copied the plan from a downed German aircraft. The introduction of the very popular Nieuport 17 with both a synchronized and unsunchronized machine- gun balanced the situation. By that time Navarre arrived to 12 victories. He and another ace of the same character Charles Nungesser ,both reckless and systematically disobedient to their superiors, became very close friends. They were still scoring victories in the air while on the ground were also known for a number of ‘crazy’ and 'unorthodox' adventures for which they became extremely popular to the Parisian night life.


On June the 17th, 1916 his aircraft is shot down and ends up heavily wounded on the head. He survived by miracle but he never fully recovered. The news of the death of his brother render the situation unbearable to him and started behaving in an uncoordinated manner, even being confined in a sanitorium. He was practically removed from active duty. During the celebration of the end of the war in 1918 he was killed on an accident while trying to take off and fly around the Arc of Triumph in Paris. He was only 23.

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Geographical origins

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