The history of aviation and World War I left us the name of a pilot of incomparable talent and courage: Manfred von Richthofen. Considered a hero by his compatriots and highly respected by his enemies, he earned the nickname "The Red BaronFighting in the sky during the Great War.
Manfred von Richthofen was born on May 2, 1892 in Breslau (Prussia) within an aristocratic family. Following in his father's footsteps, he enlisted in the Prussian army. He had a special devotion to being part of the Ulans, the Prussian cavalry. There he was until start of the Great War in 1917, when he decided to try other fronts. For his enormous work as a member of the cavalry regiment, got the Iron Cross. But he did not fare as well when he got to the front of infantry troops and encountered the hated and depressing trench warfare, so he sought a new target.
It was from then on when he would change his destiny forever. He requested the transfer to the aviation and entered the flight academy. There he did not have a very relevant role but Oswald boelcke, a prominent pilot and squad leader, chose him for join the Jagdsstaffel 2 fighter group (Jasta 2). In his first aerial battle over the Cambrai sky (France), on September 17, 1916, showed his qualities as a pilot- Great visual acuity and an innate gift for coping with danger.
The following months of the war would crown him as the best "Ace of Aviation", a title that credited the downing of five or more enemy aircraft. He easily beat Boelcke's record of 40 downed aircraft, and for his hard work was awarded the Cross of Merit. In addition, from the High Command they gave him the command of a fighter unit called Jasta 11.
The Jasta 11 was nicknamed "The flying circus" for the vivid colors of airplanes that made it up. And that's when Richthofen earned the nickname "Red Baron", by manning one of that color and being feared by each and every one of his opponents. In combat, he was characterized by the fact that, once he damaged an enemy aircraft, he let it retreat, something few pilots were in the habit of doing.
Later He was awarded the honor of leading the first fighter wing in air history known as JG 1 and composed of Jasta 4, 6, 10 and 11. In total, it directed 58 missions with total success and shot down 80 enemy aircraft. His achievements were recognized, not only by his compatriots, but also by his rivals. His unit was always the one that received the fewest casualties, even taking into account the comments of some of its members, who rated the Red Baron from "suicide”. Richthofen In 1917 he published a book in which he explained the peculiarities of flight and how he felt about aviation, entitled “The Red Pilot”.
But on July 6, 1917 was shot in the head. Although he kept flying, the truth is that got more reckless than ever, until April 21, 1918 crashed in Vaux-sur-Somme (France). There are various theories about his death. For one thing, it is thought that it was Canadian driver Roy Brown who downed Richthofen. Although on the other hand, some suggest that it was the infantryman William Evans.
Be that as it may, the death of the Red Baron shocked everyoneeven his enemies. The British buried him with full military honors, including air salvos and presentation of arms.
Red Baron Airplane Image: Entity999 en Wikimedia
Passionate about History, he has a degree in Journalism and Audiovisual Communication. Since he was a child he loved history and ended up exploring the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries above all.