|Manfred von Richthofen|
|Birth name||Manfred Albrecht Freiherr von Richthofen|
|Born||2 May 1892|
Kleinburg, German Empire (now part of Wrocław, Poland)
|Died||21 April 1918 (aged 25)|
Morlancourt Ridge, near Vaux-sur-Somme, France
|Years of service||1911–1918|
|Rank||Rittmeister (Cavalry Captain)|
|Battles/wars||First World War|
|Relations||Richthofen for more|
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 the First World War. He is considered the ace-of-aces of the war, being officially credited with 80 air combat victories.
Originally a cavalryman, Richthofen transferred to the Air Service in 1915, becoming one of the first members of Jasta 2 in 1916. He quickly distinguished himself as a fighter pilot, and during 1917 became leader of Jasta 11 and then the larger unit Jagdgeschwader 1, better and popularly known as the "Flying Circus." By 1918, he was regarded as a national hero in Germany, and respected and admired even by his enemies.
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.
Name and nicknames
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.[a] Richthofen painted his aircraft red, and this combined with his title led to him being called "The Red Baron" ( "der Rote Baron" (help·info)), both inside and outside Germany. During his lifetime, he was more frequently described in German as Der Rote Kampfflieger, variously translated as "The Red Battle Flyer" or "The Red Fighter Pilot." This name was used as the title of Richthofen's 1917 autobiography.
Manfred von Richthofen was born in Kleinburg, near Breslau, Lower Silesia (now part of the city of Wrocław, Poland), on 2 May 1892 into a prominent Prussian aristocratic family. His father was Major Albrecht Philipp Karl Julius Freiherr von Richthofen and his mother was Kunigunde von Schickfuss und Neudorff. He had an elder sister, Ilse, and two younger brothers.
When he was four years old, Manfred moved with his family to nearby Schweidnitz (now Świdnica, Poland). He enjoyed riding horses and hunting as well as gymnastics at school. He excelled at parallel bars and won a number of awards at school. He and his brothers, Lothar and Bolko, hunted wild boar, elk, birds, and deer.
After being educated at home he attended a school at Schweidnitz before beginning military training when he was 11. After completing cadet training in 1911, he joined an Uhlan cavalry unit, the Ulanen-Regiment Kaiser Alexander der III. von Russland (1. Westpreußisches) Nr. 1 ("1st Emperor Alexander III of Russia Uhlan Regiment (1st West Prussian)") and was assigned to the regiment's 3. Eskadron ("No. 3 Squadron").
Early war service
When World War I began, Richthofen served as a cavalry reconnaissance officer on both the Eastern and Western Fronts, seeing action in Russia, France, and Belgium; with the advent of trench warfare making traditional cavalry operations outdated and inefficient, Richthofen's regiment was dismounted, serving as dispatch runners and field telephone operators. Disappointed and bored at not being able to directly participate in combat, the last straw for Richthofen was an order to transfer to the army's supply branch. His interest in the Air Service had been aroused by his examination of a German military aircraft behind the lines, and he applied for a transfer to Die Fliegertruppen des deutschen Kaiserreiches (Imperial German Army Air Service), later to be known as the Luftstreitkräfte. He is supposed to have written in his application for transfer, "I have not gone to war in order to collect cheese and eggs, but for another purpose." In spite of this unmilitary attitude, and to his own surprise, his request was granted. Manfred joined the flying service at the end of May 1915.
From June to August 1915, Richthofen served as an observer on reconnaissance missions over the Eastern Front with Feldflieger Abteilung 69 ("No. 69 Flying Squadron"). On being transferred to the Champagne front, he is believed to have shot down an attacking French Farman aircraft with his observer's machine gun in a tense battle over French lines; he was not credited with the kill, since it fell behind Allied lines and therefore could not be confirmed.