Friday, May 2, 2014

Happy birthday to The Red Baron

It is the birthday of The Red Baron (1892), the World War I German fighter pilot Manfred Albrecht Frelherr von Richthofen, who was credited with shooting down at least 80 enemy planes in aerial combat.

His closest competitors were a French ace, who was credited with 75 kills. and a Canadian pilot, credited with 72. Recent research suggests the Red Baron’s record may have been as many as 100, but that’s including some that were unconfirmed. Historians point out that many of his victories occurred against vastly superior allied air forces.

The Red Baron was killed in combat over France in 1917. Royal Air Force Captain Arthur Roy Brown was originally credited with the victory though more recent scholarship shows that Richthofen was actually killed by anti-aircraft fire.

Richthofen wrote his autobiography, The Red Fighter Pilot (1917), while he was recovering from battle injuries. He was required to do so by the propaganda section of the German air force. He read an English translation, The Red Battle Flyer (1918), before it was published and thought it made him sound more arrogant than he believed himself to be.

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