Manfred von Richthofen

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Born into a good family of country nobles, von Richtofen was a fond hunter and rider. When he was 11, his father sent him to the Cadets and at Easter 1911 he joined the army. The unit he joined was the 1st Regiment of Uhlans, "Emperor Alexander III".

At the start of the war in August 1914, his unit was sent to the Russian front where it performed well. His unit was moved to the Western front, where cavalry was of scarce use in trench warfare. To see more action, in May 1915 he joined th Fliegertruppe (German air corps). At the training unit Flieger-Ersatz-Abteilung 7 he was tested and chosen as an observer, experiencing flight for the first time:

In the Air

The next morning at seven o'clock I was to fly for the first time as an observer!-I was naturally very excited, for I had no idea what it would be like. Everyone whom I had asked about his feelings told me a different tale. The night before, I went to bed earlier than usual in order to be thoroughly refreshed the next morning. We drove over to the flying ground, and I got into a flying machine for the first time. The draught from the propeller was a beastly nuisance. I found it quite impossible to make myself understood by the pilot...

From 21 June to August he served as an observer at Flieger-Abteilung 69, that flew Albatros B.II and later Albatros C.I. His pilots were Oberleutnant Georg Zeumer and then Rittmeister Erich von Holck.

From 21 August von Richthofen was assigned to Brieftauben-Abteilung Ostende where he again met Oberleutnant Georg Zeumer. They patrolled the North Sea on AEG G.II. From mid September the unit was moved to Champagne, were von Richthofen shot down a British Farman that was not credited as a victory, since it reached ground behind enemy lines. Zeumer became a fighter pilot, and Richthofen asked him for lessons: on 10th October he flew alone for the first time. After regular training he officially became a pilot on 25th December. He joined Kampfgeschwader 2. During the Battle of Verdun he performed bombing missions.

In Spring 1916 he flies Roland C.II at Kagohl 2/Kasta 8. He then also start flying a Fokker E.III, his first monoplace fighter.

Between 12th and 16th January 1917 he left Jasta 2 for Jasta 11, where he flew an Albatros D.III for the first time. He gets his 17th and 18th victories with it, on 23th and 24th January. It is the first plane he painted red, gaining his nickname of "Red Baron". Noticing lesions to the lower wing of his D.III he reverted back to the Albatross D.II, and also a Halberstadt D.II. On 23rd March he was promoted Oberleutnant, and on 8th April Rittmeister. From April he was once again flying Albatross D.IIIs getting 23 more victories.

On 24 June Jagsgeswader I is formed which joined together four Jastas, Jasta 11 among them, and von Richthofen is put in charge of it. Now flying his first Albatros D.V, 1177/17, totally covered by red paint with crosses and camouflage was visible across the paint. He scored his 54th, 55th, 56th and 57th victory on it, on the 23rd, 24th, 25th June and 2nd of July respectively. On July 6th at 11.30, while attacking six F.E.2 over Wervicq on 1177/17 together with other pilots, he was wounded to the head and forced to land.

From August 1917, he flew D.V 2059/17. Fuselage, tail, wheels and struts were painted red, covering the fuselage cross but not the tail one. The wings were mauve and dark green, under surfaces sky blue. From October 1917, he flew D.V 4693/17 with a yellow fuselage.


Planes

LFG Roland C.II Unknown serial

Albatros D.II 491/16

Albatros D.III 789/17

Albatros D.V 1177/17

Fokker Dr.I 127/17

Fokker Dr.I 425/17



Units

Kagohl 2/Kasta 8

Jasta 2

Jasta 11