Saturday, April 21, 2018

Der Rote Kampfflieger

Manfred Albrecht Freiherr von Richthofen
2 May 1892 - 21 Apr 1918
On this date 100 years ago, during the Great War, one of the finest fighter pilots of all time met his death in the skies over France. Twelve days short of his 26th birthday, the Red Baron died at the controls of his Fokker Dr.I.

Whether it was Captain Arthur Roy Brown, a Canadian pilot in the Royal Air Force, or some Australian gunner on the ground (a number have been named as "the man who killed the Red Baron"), the end result was that Manfred von Richthofen, commander of Jagdgeschwader 1, the famous Flying Circus, was dead. (More details here.)

Germany was shocked. His foes gave him the honor of a military funeral, treating his mortal remains as they would one of their own.

I have written of the Baron before, herehere, and here. I have no doubt that I shall write of him again. Across the decades, I salute a skilled enemy. First and foremost he was a pilot, a fighter pilot, one of the best. Pilots have always held a high place in my esteem.



24 comments:

  1. One can but wonder what his fate might have been had he survived the war. Herman Goring was also a renowned flyer, but one who lived in Von Richthofen's shadow. Goring became political and Hitler attached himself to a war hero. I know that it's idle speculation, but sometimes I engage in those what if's in idle moments of contemplation.

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    1. As do I.

      It is an interesting thing to contemplate.

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  2. Another good post. As I've said before, I'm always learning something new here. I had no idea he was given the honor of a military funeral.

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  3. Manfred von Richthofen and Erich Hartmann. Both flew for Germany. Both on the losing side. Both the highest scoring aces in their respective wars. As WWII German ace Gunther Rall summed it up, "We fly until we get a cross--either the Iron Cross, or the wooden cross". (Rall survived WWII with 275 victories, the third highest in history).

    Here is an interesting comparison---

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z25T-s0gu8M

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    1. The machine is important, the person flying it more so.

      Germany had a number of high scoring aces in WWII, fifteen with over 200 aerial victories.

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  4. Germans, if we fight another war, I hope that they will be on our side.

    Thanks for the post.
    Paul L. Quandt

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  5. There is something that used to be in the German spirit, a sort of nobility about death. Many stories abound about noble flyers, soldiers or sailors who, given the opportunity to act the savage, didn't, in fact acted the complete opposite. When, faced with a striken foe, they offered the hand of peace or mercy.

    In many ways, this is highly reflected in the way our own people fight. Terrible in war, Gentle in peace. Always the hand-up to the defeated (many times to our bitter regret later.)

    This is why we and Germany/Austria-Hungary seem to get along so well, at least, until the Greens/Reds/Commies/Socialists took over.

    And the reason that so many of us respect/admire/(quietly fan-worship) the men the likes of The Baron, Doenitz, Rommel, Michael Wittman. Bloody good enemies, so to speak. All wolves, and we Americans seem to respect wolves, even when we're killing them.

    And PaulLQ? I hope, if we fight another war, Germans like used to exist in the past show up and fight on our side. I worry about the current state of the current Germans (who can't field any U-boats, aircraft or tanks, and their main battle rifle is rife with controversy (so much that it makes the brou-ha-ha over the M-16/M-4 seem light-weight.) Let us hope that their warrior-soldiers finally have a leadership that is worthy of them. (Same with France, good soldiers and equipment, bad leadership and politicians.)(Wait, the same could be said for the USA, too, a string of bad military leaders and bad politicians in the previous decade or so. Let's hope that changes quickly (we've changed the top, hopefully the middle will follow soon.))

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    1. AW:

      From your keypad to God's eyes.

      Paul

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    2. Andrew - as in the past, the Germans are ill-served by those in charge. I served with them in NATO, good comrades, good to have beside you.

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    3. "...as in the past, the Germans are ill-served by those in charge.

      Sarge, I think that's a little too tightly defined. How about "all countries"....

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    4. Germany's Armed Forces today reminds me of the USA in 1939-41, woefully under-funded, under- and poorly- equipped, and not appreciated by many of its citizens. Poorly prepared for anything larger than a small fight.

      I hope the country does not reap the ill it has sewn.

      My German heritage weeps for what has happened. I hope the country has a chance to fix itself before all is lost. Especially after they looked at our LCS scandal and said, "Destroyers, here, hold mein bier."

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  6. Roy Brown, or the Australian gunner really don't matter. What has always been glossed over was the USAAC Spowith Camel, ( flown by a World famous Flying Ace ), who, at the same time, had a dead lock with both Sidewinders on the exhaust stubs of Richtofhen's plane. The American pilot was just waiting for Brown to get out of his way.

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    1. Hahaha!

      Yup, sprayed the monitor on that one.

      Delete
  7. Thanks. I went and read your previous linked posts as well. Good stuff.

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Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)