April marks the death of Manfred von Richthofen, more commonly known as Baron von Richthofen or the Red Baron. Manfred was a German fighter pilot born May 1892. He served in World War I first in the cavalry, before joining the air reconnaissance, and finally trained as a fighter pilot. While having some early success in 1916, he did not make a name for himself till 1917 when he assumed command of Royal Prussian Jagdstaffel 11 (No. 11 Fighter Squadron or Jasta 11).
While the commanding officer of Jasta 11, Manfred decided to paint his plane red so everyone would notice him. Eventually others under his command followed suit. Their brightly colored planes, flying ability and constant mobility earned them the nickname “The Flying Circus.” Alongside his Flying Circus Manfred would eventually achieve 80 confirmed kills before being shot down. There is still some speculation that his total kills were actually over 100.
The Red Baron was shot down on April 21, 1918 while flying over Allied forces. Pilot Arthur “Roy” Brown was initially credited with the kill but recent evidence indicates the shot came from the ground. Today his legacy lives on as the ace of aces in World War I and a name instantly recognized by all.