Eurofighter Italian Air Force
Copyright: Italian Air Force Press Office

Italian Air Force Eurofighters will fly over Mugello to celebrate the 1000th Gran Prix of Ferrari in Formula 1

A formation of Eurofighers with the symbol of the Prancing Horse on the fuselage will fly over the starting grid before the race begins. For about 100 years now, the Prancing Horse has been a lasting link between the Scuderia Ferrari and the Italian  Air Force: a bond that traces its history back to World War I, with the deeds of the Ace of Aces of aviation, major Francesco Baracca.

For this reason, to celebrate the thousandth Gran Prix of the Scuderia Ferrari in Formula 1, the Italian Air Force will open the GP Toscana Ferrari 1000 with an overflight by a formation of Eurofighters that, just like Baracca’s SPAD S.XIII, show the Prancing Horse on their fuselage, a symbol that unites to this today the Italian Air Force’s flying units that every day grant the Defense of the air space, both of the Nation and of other NATO partners.

This formation will be made up of Eurofighters belonging to the 9th Flight Squadron of the 4th Wing of Grosseto and to the 10th and 12th Flight Squadrons of the 36th Wing of Gioia del Colle, Bari.

Once again the link between the world of motors of Formula 1 and the Italian Air Force is renewed. On September 6, for example, the MB-339PAN airplanes of the Frecce Tricolori stretched the Italian Tricolour on the Gran Prix of Italy 2020 in Monza just before the start.

Motors and speed, together with technology, innovation and, most of all, team spirit, are the cornerstones common to both the Italian Air Force and the stables of the Formula 1.

History of the Prancing Horse “Cavallino Rampante”

The Prancing Horse – silvery on red background, facing left and with the tail pointing downwards – was the coat of arms of the “Piemonte Reale Cavalleria”, one of the most illustrious units of the Italian Army, wherein Francesco Baracca served at the beginning of the 20th century.

Shortly after, the young cavalryman decided to become an aviator and his love for horses led him to adopt, in the following years, a variation of that very coat of arms for his airplanes.

 The black Prancing Horse made its first appearance on an airplane piloted by the Ace at the beginning of 1917 and became the definitive emblem on the fuselage of the airplanes he flew within the newly-formed 91st Squadron. 

On June 19th, 1918, Francesco Baracca couldn’t make it back from a combat mission above Montello, and his body was found days later beside the charred remains of the SPAD he was flying on.

From that moment, the Ace’s parents kept his memory alive until a meeting, on June 16, 1923, during the Savio Race, between Francesco’s father, Enrico, and the young Enzo Ferrari (who was driving an Alfa Romeo at the time), that paved the way for what will become one of the world’s biggest myths.

That meeting was followed by another one, between Francesco’s mother and the manufacturer from Modena, to whom countess Paolina Biancoli gave the precious emblem while saying: “Ferrari, put my son’s Prancing Horse on your cars. It will bring you good luck.” 

“I still keep the picture of Baracca with the inscription with which his parents entrusted me with the emblem” wrote Enzo Ferrari on July the 3rd, 1985 to the historian Giovanni Manzoni. “The horse was always and stays black, I just added the canary yellow background, because it is the color of Modena.”

The Prancing Horse came back as the emblem of the 91st Squadron in the Twenties, and was consecrated as insignia of the 4th Wing of the Regia Aeronautica by wish of Amedeo D’Aosta, who commanded the Wing at the time.

The same emblem was also used for a while on Ducati motorcycles, as requested by the engineer Fabio Taglioni, born in Lugo di Romagna.

The Prancing Horse is still flying on the rudders of the Eurofighter of the Aeronautica Militare and, as everyone knows, races on the cars of Maranello.