Saturday, April 21, 2018

The Death of the Red Baron (100th Anniversary)

(AKA A Ghostrider in the Sky)

I wanted to make a note that today April 21, 2018 is the 100th anniversary of the shooting down and death of Manfred Baron von Richthofen. Who is better known as the Red Baron ace of WW1. I'm not an expert on his life so it is probably better to link to his wikipedia entry, and you can google away his name since there is tons of information out there. I should note he had 80 victories for Germany during the war. It is believed that he was not shot down by another pilot, but shot down by Australian Sergeant Popkin underneath him on the ground firing his vickers gun at him.
My little tribute to him will consist of pictures of the Fokker Dr. I (Dridecker or Triplane) which is the type of plane he made famous and was also shot down in. It wasn't the only plane he flew, but any depiction of him in popular lore will have him with this plane. I took these at the Planes of Fame museum in Chino.
Focker Dr. 1 (Dreidecker) (Front)
One thing that is interesting about this historical period for readers of this blog is we are transitioning away from the 100th anniversaries of Western Anericana (Gunfighters, Outlaws, etc.). While I consider most of what we would refer to as the "old west" ending around the 1890's, a case can be made that it extended to the years right before WW1 in certain regions. Those regions were still using horses as a primary means of travel. There were automobiles, but not everyone owned one or had roads to drive them. Some towns were isolated, maybe not as much as 30 years prior, but isolated enough that they still had to protect themselves and property from those who would take it. For example, it was only about nine years ago that I had a 100th anniversary blog about the hanging of Jim Miller.
Side View
So, that period of the old west was only a few years before what would become military industrial complex that is still with us today. WW1 would bring about the notion of total war where every member of society is connected to war and military in some way.
Cockpit
So back to the Red Baron, he was admired for his skill as one of the first fighter pilots. In a sense, the fascination with him that some have had is like the gunfighters of the old west. He was a pioneer and somewhat of a cowboy/gunfighter in the sky. Not on a horse, but on a new strange flying machine.
Front Engine
A few years ago I saw a poll that said most people in Germany do not know who this person was anymore. I think some said that the name Red Baron had to do with a pizza brand. ;) He has been forgotten. There are some good reasons why that is probably the case since Germany seems to not want to glorify those who fought in two wars that most consider them responsible for. On the other hand, many in America probably only know him as being Snoopy the dog's eternal enemy in the Peanuts comics/cartoons. In any case, I thought I would bring your attention to this person who was famous for his time period.

Manfred von Richthofen (Wikipedia) 

Fokker Dr. I (Wikipedia)

WW1 Aircraft (Flickr Pictures)

WW1 Aircraft (My blog from last year)

No comments: