Red Baron Richthofen
As soon as the German infantry to see his red airplane over their positions, their morale revived. For the enemies of the red plane was a messenger of impending death. After all, everyone knew that the pilot ace, pilot legend Manfred von Richthofen - god. God, coloring the wings of his plane in the color of blood.
Manfred von Richthofen was born on May 2, 1892 in the city of Breslau (now Wroclaw, Poland) in a family of a Prussian aristocrat, which meant that a military career was predetermined by him. At the end of the military school in Valdshtadte, he entered the military academy and became an excellent marksman and horseman. In 1912, the rank of lieutenant, he began serving in the Horse Regiment. In August 1914, a peace rhythm of military service was interrupted by the war. Manfred was appointed commander of the unit who participated in the attack on Russia. Soon he was a company were transferred to the Western Front. However, the war in France was not a cavalry man on a horse among the trenches and barbed wire would be a helpless target for enemy guns.
As allies, Germany kept the cavalry in the rear, waiting in vain for a breakthrough. Richthofen had to perform the duties of quartermaster. Fuss with papers, boring economic affairs have turned the dream of martial exploits something unrealizable. The young officer had plenty of time to observe how over the head of a brand new form of warfare. This made it possible to get rid of boredom and mud trench. Richthofen began to learn the profession of the observer and soon was transferred to the Eastern Front, where he participated in regular reconnaissance flight. Now is the time of motors, and a former trooper moved with the horse on a plane. He realized that the flight - this is his element. Manfred wrote to his mother: "Every day I fly over enemy troops and report on their movement. Three days ago, I reported the Russian retreat. You can not imagine how happy I was. "
In August 1915, Richthofen was forwarded to the Western Front in a top-secret compound, code-named "Brigade of pigeons", designed for bombing operations. Finished by Christmas of that year, a training course and received the coveted wings, newly-pilot was finally able to fully satisfy their ambitions. Preparing for combat missions, Richthofen screwed to the upper wing of his aircraft reconnaissance machine gun.
Now dogfights looked different than in the beginning, when the pilots used the rifles and revolvers. The jump was committed in February 1915, when the Frenchman Roland Garros installed a stationary machine gun, shoot through the rotating propeller. German Fokker aircraft by examining the captured French aircraft, chopper invented by which gun a bullet has released only at the moment when their paths did not screw. Shortstop Fokker monoplane was put on Ayndekker, who became the first true fighter. Machine gun on Ayndekkerah became hellish scourge of virtually defenseless aircraft reconnaissance allied forces. During the ten months of terror, which began in August 1915, Ayndekkery virtually cleared the skies of enemy vehicles. In January 1916 the headquarters of the British Royal Air Force ordered to accompany every spy plane with three fighters in close formation.
September 1, 1916 Richthofen transferred to the Western Front. He began his career in the squadron Jagdstaffel-2 biplane "Albatros D. II». Although all Richthofen remained in memory with its triplanom "Fokker Dr. I », the vast majority of their flight he made on biplanes" Albatros D. II »and« Albatros D. III ».
September 17, 1916 officially opens Richthofen through his air victories - downed aircraft finally fell where necessary - in Germany. Two aircraft, Richthofen sent for the first year of his flight career to the ground of France, were not counted.
January 4, 1917 Richthofen bring your account up to 16 air victories, making it the best German ace alive. On January 12, he is rewarded with the Order Pour le Merite. He entrusted the command of a squadron Jasta 11. Richthofen decided to paint some parts of his car in the red, in part, to its ground troops to easily identify it in the air and fired at him. It is also believed that he chose the color red because of the fact that it was the color of his unit Uhlan cavalry. Act Richthofen has spawned a number of traditions: every airplane his squadron was also painted in red (but in coloring is required to present other colors - only the squadron commander, "Red Baron" von Richthofen flew the red car with no other additional colors), and later the English pilots began to paint the nose of the cars in red, thus expressing its intention to incite "red Baron." The British also created a special squadron to knock down the "Red Baron" - so-called "antirihtgofenskaya Squadron" or "antirihtgofensky club." Unsuccessfully.
In April 1917, Richthofen surpassed Boelcke himself, his teacher, knocking 40 somoleta. He became an instrument of German propaganda. The Allies also had its heroes - the names of such aces as an Englishman and a Frenchman Ball Guynemer became a legend. These bright personality, "Knights of the air," as they were called, became famous all over the world. From American aces one of the best was Raul Lafberri (16 wins), who had served previously in the French Squadron Lafayette. But all of these heroes died. First Lafberri and Guynemer, and then the Ball. Last in a fierce battle with the Flying Circus of Richthofen shot down his brother Lothar, but he was still alive, and Ball in the same battle was lost. Only the Red Baron seemed invincible. He turned the dogfight into an exact science. In addition Richthofen was an excellent vozdzhushnym acrobat. He shot the victim at very close range, opening fire only at the moment when he was sure he could deal a fatal blow to the car or to the pilot. Manfred von Richthofen did not belong to the category of pranksters, but once he said: "I prefer to see the face of his client." In July 1917 there was incredible - right in fierce battles with six EF-2 Red Baron was critically wounded in the head. Miraculously escaped death, almost blind, half-conscious, he still landed his Albatros. Three weeks later, he escaped from the hospital with a bandaged head and led his pilots into battle.
Many believed that the red airplane actually operates woman, some German Joan of Arc. One squadron of von Richthofen was captured by the British pilot, who, of course, began to try to find out who flies on a red airplane. He himself was firmly convinced that it is ruled by a girl. How to describe this case himself, Manfred von Richthofen: "He was very surprised when I assured him that this hypothetical woman now stands in front of him. He was in no mood to joke. He was in fact convinced that only a girl can sit in the car such extravagant coloring. "
Enemies called Richthofen not only the "Red Baron", but also "red devil" and "Red Knight". When the red airplane appeared over enemy positions, everyone knew that as long as he remains here, the sky will be owned by the Germans. For all firmly believed that the "Red Baron" is invincible. The morale of the troops immediately fell sharply.
Air superiority often depends on a little more speed, a little over a steep bend, slightly higher rate of fire machine guns and, of course, from the pilot's ability to squeeze all of these benefits. There were many pilots no worse than Manfred von Richthofen, but he was able to fight until the end. he was awarded the Order "For personal courage" November 16, 1917. Then he was appointed commander of Jasta-2. In contrast to the British Royal Air Force, the Germans collected their best pilots in the elite division. Under the command of Richthofen served as his brother - Lothar, who finished the war with 40 victories. Their colorful airplanes division gave the nickname "Flying Circus". With further restructuring of the German Air Force in June 1917, Manfred von Richthofen commanded has four groups of Jasta, assembled in military wing Jagdgeschwader-1.
Thank Richthofen was explained by the fact that from September 1917 until the day of his death in April 1918, he demonstrated his unique skills on the red Fokker. Flying in this triplane, Richthofen scored 17 wins the past. Meanwhile, the British resistance in the air every day increased. Thanks to all the growing number of new generation aircraft, the balance of power in the airspace lurched toward allies. Among their new aircraft stood out in particular SE5A opposing triplanam Red Baron and Sopwith Camel, whose nickname comes from the double-humped shape cover that protects its twin machine guns. By the end of the war Camels shot down more than 1,300 German aircraft. But the number of Richthofen's victories all grew. Sopwith Dad, which he shot down flying a Fokker 61 was his victory. English pilot of the downed plane Byrd, taken prisoner by the Red Baron, was happy that at least survived. But one man can not change the course of events, besides the United States declared war on Germany in April 1917. Five months later, a squadron of the US Air Force combat entered into battle on the side of the British and French. The Americans flew on British and French aircraft, as their own military vehicles in the United States has not yet happened. However, the very Americans participate in hostilities sharply raised the morale of the Allies. Time worked against Germany.
At this point, Richthofen became something of a national icon. But the Red Baron became tired of his popularity, and with great pleasure spending time with his beloved dog Moritz, than with people. It seemed that not only others but also himself, Manfred von Richthofen believed in its uniqueness and immortality. He behaved arrogantly, causing people respect but not worship.
The final chapter of the Red Baron started on 21 March 1918 when the cream of Germany rushed to the last offensive on the Western Front. While advancing infantry unit Rr-1 is on the ground, but at dawn on April 3 triplane rose into the air. By April 20 on the account of the Red Baron was already 80 victories. His last victim was Sopvitch Camel, shot almost point-blank. And then came the fateful day for Richthofen. April 21 his unit attacked two airplanes - a scout. Fierce battle over the English line of defense has caused anti-aircraft fire. To help his scouts climbed into the air squadron of Captain Brown. Richthofen immediately chose Lieutenant May, who in the heat of battle has shot all its bullets, and he pressed him to the ground. Now they were over the area of Australian troops. Flying very low over the enemy trenches, Richthofen broke one of its basic rules - never be exposed to unnecessary risks. Australian gunners opened fire on proletavschemu over them triplanu. During the prosecution tried in vain to dodge May, Richthofen exposed himself under it was under the gun. Persecutor became persecuted. At the tail Richthofen, absorbed the desire to finish off the enemy, sat Captain Brown, who tried to get a machine-gun burst red Fokker. What happened next is unclear. What is known is that triplanu fired from the ground and from the air. A minute later, he collapsed in a field.
Richthofen's body was on the plane, and his hands still gripping the steering wheel. Soon the equipment Fokker nothing left - there is a better souvenir than a piece of the famous aircraft ace? Nobody looked at what angle holes were made in the downed plane and how many of them. The next day, Richthofen was buried in the cemetery near the village Bertangu. Autopsy of his body was not made. After superficial medical examination, it was concluded that the Red Baron killed bullet fired by Captain Brown. Ten days later, Manfred von Richthofen would have turned 26 years old. In November 1925 the Red Baron remains were transported to Germany and buried in the cemetery of Berlin disabled.
Richthofen died, but the question of who had killed his bullet released, remained open. After the death of the Red Baron, General Roulenson personally congratulated the two Australian gunners Evans and Buje with a victory over a formidable ace. However, the pilots of the British Royal Air Force Unit, commanded by Captain Brown, stood firm. They argued that the victory belongs to the honor of their commander. Prove anything was practically impossible - aircraft Richthofen taken away as souvenirs, witnesses events showed that Richthofen was wounded in the legs and abdomen, and on the floor of his cabin was a sea of blood. In general, witness statements indicate that he was killed by a burst of the earth, and not a bullet Brown. But the truth is we will never know.