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MAKING THE MODERN WORLD
Stories about the lives we've made
people:Manfred von Richthofen
Born: 2 May 1892, Breslau, Germany (now Wroclaw, Poland)
Died: 21 April 21, 1918, Vaux-sur-Somme, France

Germany's top aviator and leading ace during the Second World War.

Born into a wealthy family, von Richthofen briefly served in the trenches before transferring to the German Air Force in May 1915. Having excelled during the training period, he recorded his first aerial combat victory on 17 September 1916. A skilful and precise fighter pilot he painted the fuselage of his Fokker DR-1 Dridecker airplane flaming red and quickly became the most celebrated war ace in Germany. Named 'der Rote Kampfflieger' by the Germans, 'le petit rouge' by the French, and 'the Red Baron' by the British, he was showered with military decorations and treated like a hero.

On 21 April 1918 he was shot down over enemy lines. Although Arthur Brown, a Canadian, was officially credited with the victory, many believe that Richthofen was hit by a single bullet fired from a machine gun in the trenches.

Von Richthofen shot down 80 allied aircraft in his brief career. He was buried in France with full military honours but his body was later exhumed and reburied in the family cemetery in Germany.

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