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Manfred von Richthofen

Published on 20/09/2014 08:00 - By

The German, Manfred von Richthofen was certainly the most famous aviator of the First World War. Equally feared and respected by his opponents, he was nicknamed the Red Baron.

Patrick Facon, Historian - C.E.S.A (French Air Force): “Manfred von Richthofen was a German aristocrat. In an act of provocation, and to impress and be seen easily by the enemy, Richthofen ordered his mechanic to paint his 'plane red. It was the British who, fighting against this Richthofen and his red plane, nicknamed him the Red Baron.

Richthofen inspired fear among the allied pilots, a fear reinforced by the fact that he did not fly inconspicuously. The markings on his red 'plane were there  precisely to create a kind of psychological pressure on the enemy.

One of his greatest qualities was his shooting ability. He was able to pierce a coin with a bullet at a distance of 55, 65 or even 110yds.. Richthofen was led by what may be called the spirit of the hunter, so he had a very strong individualistic character. He was an individualist, and I believe, in the main, had no real taste for military discipline, and felt more comfortable when he was out hunting alone in his 'plane.

Richthofen was also a man who was driven by the desire to win. For much of his career, until he was shot down in July 1917, when he suffered a severe head injury, Richthofen had a huge amount of self-assurance, which undoubtedly gave him an extraordinary sense of invulnerability.

In studying Richthofen's career, we realize that from the moment Richthofen was shot down, although he managed to make a hasty but controlled landing, he spent a number of weeks in hospital. With his self-assurance broken, he went back into battle less sure of himself, and with a sense of vulnerability that he had not known before.

Was he a bloodthirsty monster? I don't think Richthofen was that type of personality. He fought simply by patriotism.”

Baron Manfred von Richthofen, most famous ace of the Great War, with the highest number of 80 victories, was fately shot down in 1918. He was 25 years old.

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