The End of the Red Baron

Before the Allies managed to shoot down their nemesis, Richthofen felt premonitions of his fate. He was shot with a glancing blow to the head during a July 1917 dog fight with a British two-seater. Richthofen blacked out, but recovered just in time to bring the plane to a safe landing. During his hospitalization from that wound and after his return to combat duty, he suffered bouts of depression and became convinced that his number was almost up.

Sure enough, on April 21, 1918, one day after recording his eightieth kill, Richthofen got into a dog fight near the front lines. Seeing the chilling sight of the Red Baron’s bright red triplane on his tail, the frightened pilot dove toward the ground. Against his own teaching, Richthofen followed the plane, giving Canadian pilot Roy Brown a chance to maneuver the German into his gun sights. At the same moment, Australian foot soldiers in the trenches turned their rifles toward the sky and began shooting at Richthofen’s plane.

No one is certain whose bullet was responsible for killing the dreaded Red Baron because souvenir hunters picked the crashed plane clean. To this day, Canadians claim the honor of downing the most feared pilot of that, or any other, war. But the Australians dispute the claim and have made a strong argument that it was one of their sharpshooters who felled the Red Baron.

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