View Full Version : The Red Fighter Pilot, by Manfred von Richthofen.

12-25-2008, 10:22 PM
I came across this online edition of the book written by the Baron before his death and published during the war.

The Red Fighter Pilot, by Manfred von Richthofen (http://www.richthofen.com/)

This on-line edition of Manfred von Richthofen's 1917 book Der Rote Kampfflieger is based on the English language version originally translated by J. Ellis Barker and published in 1918 under the name The Red Battle Flyer.

The book was published while World War One still raged and suffered somewhat from the propaganda and censorship of the time. Unfortunately Captain von Richthofen famously known as The Red Baron did not survive the war, and so this is the only work of its kind directly attributable to him. His own opinion of the book was that it was too insolent, and before his death he wrote that he was no longer that type of person.

12-26-2008, 03:18 AM
Interesting read so far woofie , iv'e just read the first chapter and saved in favourites which i'll continue later with .

Great find thanks for the link and merry christmas to you .

Bartman .

12-27-2008, 06:18 AM
Nice find! Thanks for sharing http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gif

12-27-2008, 08:03 AM
Bartman... Hope you had a Great Christmas for you & your family!

RegRag1977... Thank's.

Found it a pretty good book so far and it gives some insight of the times and the ace himself. I also recently watched the movie 'The Red Baron'... even though it's in German and not subtitle, was able to follow along fairly well with what was going and found it a good movie over all. I'm sure it will be a lot better once a subtitled version comes out though. LoL But glad you both could find some time to read it and are enjoying the book.

12-27-2008, 07:35 PM
Woofie thanks for the link
Very Interesting read
When pilots were somewhat of a gentlemanly nature (after the fight of course), more sportsmanlike than in later days

12-29-2008, 05:21 PM
Originally posted by Crazy_Goanna:
When pilots were somewhat of a gentlemanly nature (after the fight of course), more sportsmanlike than in later days

which still has to be shown...
i doubt, that richthofen was like what his mother has tried to make out of him after his death. he himself stated to 'never shoot for the machine, but for the pilot first' (by memory). in his autobiography he tells from his early days, that attacking enemy-posts and hunting down soldiers was quite an entertainment: 'my observer fired at those guys under the bridge and we had some wild fun'
from his 80 victories, he killed 75 pilots, some of them already grounded.

i think, one should be very careful with glorification of those who participated successful in wars - and whose success can be quantified in dead enemies. it can hardly be assumed, that they followed higher ideals.

i don't think, any of those heroes earns more of our attention than those nameless soldiers, who had less choice and left this world as mouldering flesh in a muddy trench.
and the worst one can do is keeping all these as idols, as an idol implies similar future events. and a war, even if 'not avoidable' is anything but to be proud of!

12-30-2008, 08:05 AM
Originally posted by deepo_HP:
...from his 80 victories, he killed 75 pilots, some of them already grounded....

Not sure if you're trying to say that he strafed crashed/crash-landed aircraft, but in most cases he did not even follow the aircraft down. Several of his victims expired after landing due to their wounds however.

I've recently read "Under the guns of the Red Baron" which attempts to positively identify all his victories and the fate of the pilots/observers he shot down.

I'll go through it and collate some figures.

12-30-2008, 11:22 AM

When Richtofen first began his career, he was a typical young arrogant Nobleman, who treated the war as some sort of sport. He collected trophies from his victims, awarded himself a silver cup for each shoot down, and generally thought of his victims in much the same way he had thought of his hunting trophies prior to the war.

Most of his early victories were versus nearly undefendable British two seaters like the BE-2, and he had a tremendous advantage in his Albatroses, and the fact he was almost always flying on his own side of the lines.

But after suffering his very serious head wound, and after he began to see all his fellow pilots die one after the other, he began to change. He came to the realization that if he continued to fly, that he would not survive the war, yet to his credit, despite pressure from the German brass, he refused to be pulled off combat flying. "I refuse to become a pensioner of my dignity", he said. He became much more professional in his attitude, focusing on developing combat aircraft which would give German pilots the best chance to survive, he was instrumental in the selection of the Fokker DVII. And, despite terrible headaches, a result of the wound, and a clear case of combat strees, in the final months of his career he displayed the incredible skills he had in airfighting. In combat with Camels, Spads and other high performance Allied aircraft, he scored heavily, flying at low altitudes over enemy lines in support of the German Spring offensive.

But as he knew, it couldn't last, and the inevitable result was not long in coming.

Richtofen left an enviable heritage of leadership and professionalism which was only matched by Boelcke

12-30-2008, 02:25 PM
yes, what buzzsaw said!

and which is the point i wanted to make: i think, one should be very careful to create a glorifying image of a single person, who excels mainly by killing.
richthofen was a gifted pilot, no doubt... but for the main part of his career as a combattant, he considered fighting as hunting. from the story-telling view, i don't see anything remarkable in a pilot, who once in a while honoured an enemy for a great fight - which reduces warfare to a private game with mostly deadly outcome. in other words, the lowest reason to kill!

richthofen was for most of his flight-career an arrogant character, who only started to change after he experienced for his own, what he did to others. this change and also the fact, that he stood for it, made him a person worth to remember. however, this is about a human character then and war is just a circumstance. it has nothing to do with gentlemen or knights.
and drawing a line between sports and killing is by far the worst interpretation of the heavy duty of a soldier.