Who Was The Red Baron? Facts About The World War I 'Ace Of Aces' Manfred Von Richthofen

By Karen Harris
Baron Captain Manfred von Richthofen, also known as the Red Baron, the greatest fighter pilot of World War I. (Getty Images)

If the name Manfred von Richthofen doesn't ring a bell, it's probably because you know this World War I flying ace better by his more famous nickname, the Red Baron. For 18 months, the Red Baron symbolized the might of the German military in his bright red biplane. Between September 1916 and April 1918, he shot down more enemy aircraft than any other World War I pilot.

Manfred Von Richthofen

The Red Baron was a real baron: He was born into an aristocratic Prussian family in 1892. When he was 11 years old, he enrolled in a top military school, and after eight years as a cadet, he became an officer in the Prussian army. He began in a cavalry unit, but after military innovations during World War I rendered cavalry units largely ineffective, Richthofen was transferred to a supply unit. He was frustrated by the move. He wanted to see action, so he requested another transfer to the Imperial German Army Air Service and began flight training in May 1915.