Red Baron

Red Baron Triplane pin

Red Baron Triplane pin

Manfred Albrecht Freiherr von Richthofen (2 May 1892 – 21 April 1918), widely known as the Red Baron, was a German fighter pilot with the Imperial German Army Air Service (Luftstreitkräfte) during the First World War. He is considered the top ace of the war, being officially credited with 80 air combat victories.

Originally a cavalryman, Richthofen transferred to the Air Service in 1915. He quickly distinguished himself as a fighter pilot. By 1918, he was regarded as a national hero in Germany, and widely respected even by his enemies.

Richthofen was shot down and killed near Amiens on 21 April 1918.

Red Baron flying his plane

Red Baron flying his plane

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.

Richthofen was a Freiherr (literally “Free Lord”), a title of nobility often translated as “baron”. This is not a given name nor strictly a hereditary title—since all male members of the family were entitled to it, even during the lifetime of their father. This title, combined with the fact that he had his aircraft painted red, led to Richthofen being called “The Red Baron” both inside and outside Germany. During his lifetime he was more often described in German as Der Rote Kampfflieger (variously translated as “The Red Battle Flyer” or “The Red Fighter Pilot”).

His plane was an all-red Fokker Dr.I., shown in flight at the right.

Location: 15-D1

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