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The Red Baron

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Although to most people it may just be a brand of good tasting pizza, The Red Barron was actually a German fighter ace of World War I. His full name was Rittmeister Manfred Albrecht Freiherr von Richthofen, who will be referred to as von Richthofen for simplicity's sake. By the Germans, he was called "der rote Kampfflieger" (The Red Battle-Flyer), the French called him "le Diable Rouge" (Red Devil), and in the English-speaking world he is known as "The Red Barron." In a time of ancient aircraft technology when twenty air victories insured a pilot legendary status, von Richthofen had eighty victories, and he is still considered even today as the ace of aces (The Red Barron).

As a child, von Richthofen was privately tutored until his ninth year of schooling. He then attended school in Schweidnitz and became a cadet. After his schooling, he began his military career as a cavalryman in the 1st Regiment of Ehlans. When he received his epaulettes and became an officer in the fall of 1912, his father bought him his own horse with which von Richthofen became a talented contender in jumping and cross-country racing (Perry). Unfortunately, warfare in the twentieth century had little use for mounted cavalry as the invention of machine guns had led to trench warfare (The Red Barron). When the war started, von Richthofen was posted near Verdun as a messenger carrying dispatches between units and climbing into and out of the trenches along the front. When given orders to rummage around the countryside for food for the troops, Richthofen replied, "My dear Excellency! I have not gone to war in order to collect cheese and eggs, but for another purpose" (Perry). Exasperated by his attitude his superiors finally let him transfer to the German Air service in May of 1915 (Perry).

Von Richthofen began his career as an observer for other pilots. He never considered becoming a pilot himself because the training took three months, and he was sure the war would be over before he completed his training. In the fall of 1915, after being transferred to Ostend, von Richthofen decided to try flying for himself and he started training. On December 25, he passed the tests required to become a pilot, and the legend began (Perry). On April 24, von Richthofen shot down his first plane as a pilot, but the plane crashed behind enemy lines, and the kill was not confirmed, so no credit was given to him. Later in his career he would not be held to this constraint, he was taken for his word (The Red Barron). After pestering his superiors for months and finally acquiring the Fokker triplane, von Richthofen was transferred to France where he scored his first confirmed kill against an English plane on September 17, 1916. After sixteen victories, he is given the Pour le MÐ"Ёrite (the famous "Blue Max")



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