Mysteries of the Red Baron

Excerpted from Myths and Mysteries of the Great War in the Air, Part 2 by O’Brien Browne. Published in World War One Illustrated #2, Summer 2014. This issue is still available for purchase here. This issue also included an introductory game: Assassination in Sarajevo that you can play solitaire. Read more about the other issues of WWOI and our projects here. Help us to preserve the stories of this critical period of history. Here’s how.

Red BaronMost myths of the Great War in the air center on Manfred Freiherr von Richthofen, Germany’s famous “Red Baron.” Among the most persistent:

  • He had all his aircraft painted red.
  • He flew a triplane with a white cowling and white wheel hubs.
  • He was secretly married.
  • He disliked women.
  • He was homosexual.
  • He was a terrible pilot.
  • He was cold and cruel.
  • He flew airplanes custom made for him.

All of this is rumor or simply wrong.

Who Shot Down the Red Baron?

Various reports stated that Richthofen was 24, 25 or 26 when killed. He was born on May 2, 1892 and killed on 21 April 1918. He was 25 when he died.

About the controversy still raging over who shot him down—pilot Roy Brown or Australian infantrymen— we will never know for sure and it is therefore incorrect to claim one or the other with certainty.

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