Profile of Manfred von Richthofen, The Red Baron
He is regarded as the most successful pilot of that war,
Hello, I'm Jim Flink for About.com and today, we're profiling the life and military career of the man known as The Red Baron, Manfred Albrecht Freiherr von Richthofen of Germany.Perhaps one of the most legendary fighter pilots to have ever lived, Richthofen was a member of the Imperial German Army Air Service during World War I. He is regarded as the most successful pilot of that war, registering 80 air victories.As a member of German nobility, von Richthofen could have been officially titled a Baron. However, it was actually because of his military notoriety, and the fact he had his fighter plane painted red, that he gained his nickname.Richthofen began his service during World War I in the infantry, serving in Russia, France and Belgium, but ultimately was thwarted by a series of obstacles, quite literally. Most notably, barbed wire and machine gun fire preventing advancement of German troops. It was there that von Richthofen saw his first German plane engaged in combat. Intrigued by the air battle, he quickly asked to be reassigned to the Air Service.In the air, Richthofen was hailed as a brilliant tactician, and his method of attack earned him both accolades from allies, and the fear of his rivals. Most notably, he would position himself to dive into attack formation from above with the sun at his back, in effect blinding his opponent from being able to fight on an even keel.Richthofen had several close calls prior to his death. He was wounded in battle in July of 1917, shot in the head, and forced into convalescence. But he returned to battle two months later, though the effects of his wounds, including nausea in flight, never left him. Richthofen eventually was killed in battle in April of 1918. He was in pursuit of a novice Canadian pilot, and seeking a kill, when another Canadian -- Captain Arthur "Roy" Brown -- intercepted Richthofen, and was able to fire a shot that pierced Richthofen's chest and heart. But even the Red Baron's death remains the subject of much discussion. Many military analysts believe the gunshot that killed Richthofen was likely fired from the ground. Richthofen was at first buried in Amiens, France, but his body was returned to Berlin after the war. His remains were moved once again in 1975, to Wiesbaden, where his headstone remains to this day.And that's a look at the life and military career of The Red Baron. I'm Jim Flink, thanks for watching. For more information, check out About.com.