Near Century Old Film of Fighter Ace – The Red Baron

You’re at this FASF site because of your interest in U.S. History and that of American Aviation, so you don’t want to miss this rare footage from a short German film made during the Word War I.

This short (less than six minutes) movie clip was just posted online. We’ve never seen anything quite like it.  A unique film from 1917 of Baron Manfred Von Richthofen, the Famous “Red Baron.” You’ll find it’s an up close and personal peek at this unique early airman as he readies for combat over the bloody fields of France. Notice his apparent good humor and cavalierly confident attitude, as he climbs into his flight suit in preparation for another air sortie – one which could easily end in his death.

Have you ever wondered how he was tagged with this famous nickname, “The Red Baron?”  The answer is simple:  His airplane was painted bright red.  At a time when 15-20 “kills” were considered exceptional, Von Richthofen actually gained his super hero status by shooting down some 80 enemy aircraft, all British except for one French Aircraft.  Since this film is so ancient, there is no sound track, so you won’t need to turn up your sound.  This extraordinary elitist blue-blooded pilot became the subject of many romanticized myths, primarily composed and propagated by his German military superiors.  Hardly did the American Comic Strip, “Snoopy” and it’s frequent depictions of the Red Baron, even come close to the real man, who was not only very complex, but who also suffered serious bouts of depression after his many victorious battles.  In reality, this brave fighter ace considered his work all too serious and certainly not fun.  Above all, he did not find killing the enemy to be any sort of worthwhile or pleasant sport.

Notice the Baron’s ground crew as they ready the fighter for the starting procedure and add squirts of oil into each of the cylinders of the rotary engine (unlike later radial engines after the war, the Fokker Tri-Plane’s entire engine whiled about, rather than the engine simply causing the propeller to spin as in conventional engines of today).

This video is courtesy, once again, of our FASF member and Aviation News Scout, Jerry Dixon, former U. S. Marine Corps Fighter Pilot.

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