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Thursday, 10 February 2011

The Red Baron's Demise.


Red Baron's last duel
No one knows for sure who killed Manfred von Richthofen otherwise known as 'The Red Baron.'


The Royal Air Force credited a Canadian pilot called Brown with shooting down the infamous Red Baron, but Manfred von Richthofen died from a fatal chest wound caused by a single bullet. The projectile penetrated his right armpit and exited his left breast.

Therefore, it is unlikely to have come from Brown’s guns. Richthofen would not have been able to pursue another pilot called May for as long as he did. Brown and May were both Canadian friends in the same squadron and May was being chased by the deadly German fighter ace in a dogfight.

Canadian pilot May had dropped low and flew over his own lines with the Red Baron determinedly giving chase. Brown, trying to aid his fellow comrade dived deeply after the Red Baron and fired a burst before having to pull up to avoid smashing into the earth. If Brown had struck Richthofen at this moment; The Red Baron would not have been able to pursue May for as long as he did because the ace’s fatal wound was such, that his life would been over very quickly. There would have been no time for the German Ace to land the plane and then die as he did. It means the fatal wound occurred after the Canadian pilot Brown broke off his pursuit. 


Brown never spoke much about what happened that day, claiming "There is no point in me commenting, as the evidence is already out there".


It is now generally agreed the bullet that hit Richthofen was fired by someone on the ground. The wound through his body indicated that it had been caused by a bullet moving in an upward motion, from the right side, and more importantly, that it was probably received a minute or two after Brown's attack.


Many sources have credited Sergeant Popkin – an Australian anti-aircraft machine gunner as the most likely person to have killed the Red Baron. He fired his Vickers machine gun at Richthofen's aircraft on two occasions: first as the Red Baron was heading straight to his position, and then at long range from the right. Given the nature of Richthofen's wounds, Popkin was in a position to fire the fatal shot, when the pilot passed him for a second time, on the right.


Others believe another Australian soldier called Gunner “Snowy” Evans might have shot him with a Lewis machine gun.


There are also other claims as well, but in general it is strongly believed the Red Baron met his demise by ground fire among the Australian soldiers on the ground. Manfred von Richthofen managed to steer his plane into a field and land it. When Australian soldiers got to him; some said he was still alive for a final moment and muttered “Kaput” before dying.

The plane was intact but was quickly stripped by souvenir hunters because of the pilot’s celebrity of being the Ace of aces. He had gained recorded 80 kills during his air duels.

Manfred von Richthofen
(The Red Baron)

Sources:

Australian War Memorial

CNN


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