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World History

Extra credit

OLD NEWS September 1993

The Red Baron

World War 1 s leading fighter pilot for Germany was Manfred Freiherr von Richthofen. During his two years of fighting for Germany he shot down eighty enemy planes. Richthofen painted his plane bright red so everyone that saw him coming would be in fear of, THE RED KNIGHT, or better known as the RED BARON. Most of the planes the Richthofen shot down were British. Most of the people that Richthofen defeated burned to death after the bullets form his machine gun hit the gas tanks, as for the pilots who were able to eject before the plane went down or exploded Richthofen would fly by giving them a friendly wave or land to shake hands.

IN 1918 Richthofen was 25 and the commander of Pursuit Squadron 1 of the German Air Force . The squadron that Richthofen was in charge of was nick named the Flying Circus. His squadron flew Fokkers. The squadron painted their planes in gaudy colors but no one was aloud to copy the all red design of the red baron s plane.

On the morning of April 21, 1918 Richthofen led two-dozen warplanes over the Somme river Valley of France. Richthofen was eager and hoping to gain air control so they could launch an offensive attack on the British forces below. As thy were chasing a few Australian photo reconnaissance planes they encountered some ROYAL AIR FORCE FIGHTERS. They commenced the air battle, which was quite a show for the men down in the ditches. Richthofen chose his one victim, which was LT. (Lieutenant) Wilfred May from Canada. Wilfred was a novice fighter pilot. He did not notice that he had Richthofen on his tail until he saw tracer bullets begin to arc past the stays on the wings. Wilfred looked behind him to see the big red plane chasing behind him with the machine guns spitting fire. Wilfred then took risky actions to avoid being hit and downed he pulled his plane into very dangerous moves to escape but Richthofen stayed on him and wouldn t let up. After their dog fight Wilfred said if he knew it was Richthofen he would have passed out on the spot. Richthofen closed the gap between himself and Wilfred he was very close to him about 100 yards away, the men on the ground started to shoot at the German planes and Wilfred was afraid he would be shot down by his own side. Richthofen had the full advantage on Wilfred, then Capt. (CAPTAIN) Roy Brown caught sight of what was happening and by then he was at 3,000 feet. Roy swiveled around and leveled off with the red plane, may twisted and turned out and Roy opened fire on the plane, not only hitting the plane but also killing Richthofen.

The allied forces buried Richthofen in France on April 22. He was honored by full military honors. Six Royal air force officers carried the coffin followed by a hundred allied mourners.

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