Today in Media History: World War I news stories described the end of the Red Baron

April 21, 2015
Category: Uncategorized

It didn’t take long for newspapers to print the news that German World War I fighter pilot Manfred von Richthofen (aka the Red Baron) was shot down and killed in France on April 21, 1918.

The April 22, 1918 edition of The (New York) Evening World published a short article and front page image of Richthofen. More information came the following day:

“LONDON, April 23 — Further details were received today of the death of Baron Rittmeister von Richthofen, leader of the German ‘Flying Circus,’ just credited by Berlin with eighty victories.

….This swarm of raiders appeared suddenly on Sunday over the British lines near the Somme Valley, and after an attack on some British planes, a general fight started, in which fifty or more airplanes were engaged. It raged over such a wide air area no one could see the details, but it is known Richthofen was flying not higher than 150 feet when his machine crashed….”

Image-NYW

Image-Break 760

The following background information about Richthofen’s airplane comes from a Wired article titled, “How the Red Baron’s Knockoff Aircraft Became the First Great Warplane”:

“Though the Allies won the war and the glory, the Germans gave us one of the most famous airplanes of the Great War. The Fokker Dr.1 triplane, flown by one of history’s great fighter pilots, is among the most recognizable aircraft of the early twentieth century and it played a significant role in launching dogfighting as a new form of combat.
….The Fokker Dr.1 emphasized the need for maneuverability in air-to-air combat, something that persists to this day in the development of the latest fighter jets, including the F-35 Lighting. It also marks the first plane famous for air-to-air combat — famous enough to end up in Peanuts along with the Red Baron, the arch-nemesis of Snoopy and his Sopwith Camel biplane.”

Periscope Film archive has compiled a video of newsreel and other footage about the Red Baron: