The Red Baron

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Manfred Albrecht Freiherr von Richthofen (2 May 1892 – 21 April 1918), also widely known as the Red Baron, was a German fighter pilot with the Imperial German Army Air Service (Luftstreitkräfte) during World War I. He is considered the top ace of that war, being officially credited with 80 air combat victories. Richthofen was born into a Prussian aristocratic family on May 2nd 1892. He was a ‘Freiherr’, a title of nobility that translates as ‘Free Lord’ but is usually translated as ‘Baron’ – hence why Richthofen was frequently referred to as Baron von Richthofen or his nickname, the ‘Red Baron’. British pilots also called him the ‘Red Knight’ in recognition of his nobility. Manfred von Richthofen was Germany’s most famous fighter ace of World War One. Richthofen was nicknamed the ‘Red Baron’ and he officially shot down 80 Allied aircraft, more than any other pilot during World War One. In the autumn of 1916, Richthofen was transferred to the Eastern Front. Here he had a meeting with Oswald Boelcke – a German fighter ace Richthofen was shot down and killed near Amiens on 21 April 1918. There has been considerable discussion and debate regarding aspects of his career, especially the circumstances of his death. He remains perhaps the most widely known fighter pilot of all time, and has been the subject of many books, films and other media. . Boelcke was looking for men to join his new fighter squadron – ‘Jagdstaffel 2’. He asked Richthofen to join it and he transferred back to France. Richthofen had his first official kill on September 17th 1916. However, Richthofen had claimed that he had shot down two French aircraft before joining ‘Jagdstaffel 2’- but neither were confirmed kills and they were not credited to him. For every confirmed kill, Richthofen had a silver cup made by a jeweller in Berlin. Each cup had the date of the kill on it and the aircraft shot down.

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