Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Red Baron, The greatest fighter pilot during World War I

Freiherr Manfred von Richthofen aka Red Baron

Manfred von Richthofen Von Richthofen was also known as "le Diable Rouge" ("Red Devil") or "Le Petit Rouge" ("Little Red") in French, and the "Red Knight" or the "Red Baron" in English.

He was credited as the greatest fighter pilot during world war One, where fighter aircrafts were still in their infancy stage and still used propeller, 50 times slower compared to modern jet fighters.

The Red Baron registered 80 kills.

His kills included British top pilot - Major Lanoe Hawker VC, described by von Richthofen himself as "the British Boelcke" or the British Ace.

The victory came while von Richthofen was flying an Albatros D.II and Hawker was flying a D.H.2 on 23 November 1916.

A replica of Freiherr Manfred von Richthofen's Red Fokker Triplane

When the First World War broke out, von Richthofen served as a cavalry scout on both the eastern and western fronts. However, when traditional cavalry operations became obsolete due to machine guns and barbed wire, the soldier were used in ordinary battlefield operations and for reinforcements.

Disappointed with not being able to participate more often in combat operations, von Richthofen joined the Flying Service at the end of May, 1915.

He was initially a reconnaissance observer over the Eastern Front.

On being transferred to the Champagne front, he managed to shoot down a French Farman aircraft with his observer's machine gun, but was not credited with the kill, as it fell behind Allied lines.

He then trained as a pilot in October, 1915.

In March 1916, he joined Kampfgeschwader 2, flying a two-seater Albatros B.II.

Over Verdun on 26 April 1916 he fired on a French Nieuport, downing it over Fort Douaumont, although once again he gained no official credit. At this time he flew a Fokker Eindecker single-seat fighter.

After a further spell flying two seaters on the Eastern Front in August 1916, he switched to Jagdstaffel or Jasta 2 aircraft.

Von Richthofen won his first aerial combat over Cambrai, France, on September 17, 1916.

After his first victory, von Richthofen ordered a silver cup engraved with the date of the fight and the type of enemy machine from a jeweller friend in Berlin.

He continued this tradition until he had 60 cups, by which time the supply of silver in blockaded Germany was restricted.

Rather than engage in risky tactics like his brother Lothar (40 air kills), Manfred von Richthofen strictly observed a set of flight maxims (commonly referred to as the "Dicta Boelcke") to assure the greatest success for both squadron and individual flyer.

After his famous kill on the British ace Major Lanoe Hawker VC, on 23 November 1916, he switched to the Albatros D.III in January 1917, scoring two kills before suffering a crack in the spar of the aircraft's lower wing.

After this incident, von Richthofen reverted to the Albatros D.II for the next five weeks.

Von Richthofen scored one kill in the D.III on 9 March, but the D.III was temporarily grounded for the rest of the month, therefore von Richthofen switched to the Halberstadt D.II, scoring six kills in the Halberstadt between 11 March and 25 March, 1917.

Von Richthofen returned to the Albatros D.III on 2 April 1917. He scored his next 22 kills in this type before switching to the Albatros D.V in late June.

What a man!!!!!!!!!!! I wonder if he ever get the chance to fly a MIG 29-N, or a Sukhoi SU-30MKM or a B52 or a Stealth Fighter or a Superhornet or a Mirage!!!!!!

Maybe he can register more than 100 kills - better than the greatest modern era jet fighter pilot - Colonel Giora Epstein of the Israeli Defence Forces who scored 17 kills and being branded the ace of all aces!!!!

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