Manfred von Richthofen
Manfred Albrecht Freiherr von Richthofen (2 May 1892 - 21 April 1918) was a German pilot and is still regarded today as the "ace of aces" and a German hero. Richthofen was born in Breslau, Germany. His nickname was the "Red Baron", a fighter aircraft pilot in World War I. He was a "flying ace", who shot down 80 enemy airplanes. He was the pilot with the most kills in World War I.
Richthoven began the war in August 1914 as a cavalry officer. In May 1915 he joined the air service and became an observer because the training course was shorter and would get him to fighting faster. In October he entered training as a pilot. In March 1916 he entered combat and had his first victory in April. In 1917 he was in command of a squadron nicknamed the "flying circus". He painted his airplane red so his fellow Germans could see him. Richthofen’s sixteenth victory flying a plane made him the best pilot in Germany in 1917. The war in the air became Richthofen's "bloodsport". He was shot down and killed fighting in France on April 21, 1918 when he was only twenty-five years old; He was chasing a enemy plane far into British territory, when a bullet passed through his chest. He then made a hasty but controlled safe landing, in a field on a hill near the Bray-Corbie road, just north of Vaux-sur-Somme. His Fokker was not damaged by the landing. One witness, Gunner George Ridgway, stated that when he and other Australian soldiers reached the plane, Richthofen was still alive but died moments later. Another eye witness, Sergeant Ted Smout, reported that Richthofen's last word was "kaputt" ("finished") immediately before he died. Arthur Roy Brown was credited with the kill, and was awarded the military cross, but it is now generally agreed that the bullet that hit Richthofen was fired from the ground.. The enemy buried Richthofen's body with full military honors.
The Red Baron has become a symbol for dexterity, daring and victory, combined with an element of tragedy both as being 'on the losing side' and in his ultimate death.
- Miller 1988
- Discovery Channel, 2002, Unsolved History: Death of the Red Baron (television documentary)
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- "Who Killed the Red Baron? Explore Competing Theories." Pbs.org, (Public Broadcasting Service) NOVA, 2003. Retrieved: 13 June 2009.