Almanac: The Red Baron

Almanac: The Red Baron

On April 21, 1918, 101 years ago today, German fighter pilot Manfred von Richthofen was shot down over France.

The son of a German nobleman, von Richthofen was Germany's most successful and celebrated aerial ace.

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On April 21, 1918, German fighter pilot Manfred von Richthofen, the "Red Baron," was shot down over France. CBS News

Handsome and dashing, famed for his bright scarlet plane, von Richthofen was nicknamed "The Red Baron," while the squadron he led was called the "Flying Circus."

With 80 kills to his credit, von Richthofen flew his plane deep into Allied territory that fateful April day, in hot pursuit of a British fighter. In mid-dogfight he was hit by a bullet, lost control, and crashed.

Dead at just 25 years of age, von Richthofen was given a respectful military funeral by the British and buried in France.

In 1925 his body was returned for reburial in Germany.

Though long-gone, the legend of von Richthoven lives on, most colorfully perhaps as Snoopy's fantasy nemesis in the Peanuts cartoons. Now there's a real dogfight!

       
Story produced by Charis Satchell.