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Manfred von Richthofen
Manfred Albrecht Freiherr von Richthofen (2 May 1892 - 21 April 1918) was a German fighter aircraft pilot in World War I. He was a "flying ace", who shot down 80 enemy airplanes. His nickname was the "Red Baron". He was the pilot with the most kills in World War I. He is still regarded today as the "ace of aces" and a national hero of Germany.
Richthofen was born in Breslau, Germany.
In August 1914, Richthofen became a cavalry officer in World War I. In May 1915, he joined the air service and became an observer. He did that because the training course was shorter and would get him to fighting faster. In October, he began training as a pilot. In March 1916, he entered combat. He 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.
On April 21, 1918, Richthofen was shot down and killed while fighting in France. He was 25 years old. He was chasing an enemy plane when a bullet passed through his chest. He then made a quick but controlled safe landing, in a field on a hill near the Bray-Corbie road, just north of Vaux-sur-Somme. His Fokker Dr.I was not damaged by the landing. One witness, Gunner George Ridgway, said that Richthofen was still alive when he and other Australian soldiers reached the plane, but he died moments later. Another eyewitness, Sergeant Ted Smout, said that Richthofen's last word was "kaputt" ("finished"), immediately before he died.
Arthur Roy Brown was believed to have killed Richthofen. He received the Distinguished Service Cross. However, 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.
- Red Baron Film Breaks War Hero Taboos
- Miller, Dr. Geoffrey. "The Death of Manfred von Richthofen: Who fired the fatal shot?" Sabretache: Journal and Proceedings of the Military History Society of Australia, vol. XXXIX, no. 2, 1998.
- Discovery Channel, 2002, Unsolved History: Death of the Red Baron (television documentary)
- "Who Killed the Red Baron? Explore Competing Theories." Pbs.org, (Public Broadcasting Service) NOVA, 2003. Retrieved: 13 June 2009.