Red Baron

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    /wiki/Red Baronwork
    Official portrait, c. 1917

    "Ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty or more
    The bloody Red Baron was rollin' up the score
    Eighty men died trying to end that spree
    Of the bloody Red Baron of Germany".


    According to Wikipedia:

    Manfred Freiherr von Richthofen (born Manfred Albrecht Freiherr von Richthofen; 2 May 1892 – 21 April 1918), also known as the "Red Baron", was a fighter pilot with the German Air Force during World War I. He is considered the ace-of-aces of the war, being officially credited with 80 air combat victories.

    Originally a cavalryman, Richthofen transferred to the Air Service in 1915, becoming one of the first members of Fighter Squadron No. 2 in 1916. He quickly distinguished himself as a fighter pilot, and during 1917 became leader of Fighter Squadron No. 11 and then the larger unit Fighter Wing No. 1, better and popularly known as "The Flying Circus" or "Richthofen's Circus" because of the bright colours of its aircraft, and perhaps also because of the way the unit was transferred from one area of allied air activity to another - moving like a travelling circus in trains, and frequently setting up in tents on improvised airfields. By 1918, Richthofen was regarded as a national hero in Germany, and respected and admired even by his enemies.

    Richthofen was shot down and killed near Vaux-sur-Somme on 21 April 1918. There has been considerable discussion and debate regarding aspects of his career, especially the circumstances of his death. He remains perhaps one of the most widely known fighter pilots of all time.

    There's a 2008 movie titled The Red Baron that plays a bit fast and loose with history. There's also a flight combat sim series, a 1970s Tokusatsu, a 1990s Anime Super Robot show, and a frozen pizza brand named after the Red Baron.

    If you're looking for the trope that used to be here, see Sobriquet. Alternately, you might be looking for That Other Sort of Baron.

    The Red Baron provides examples of the following tropes:
    • Ace Pilot: One of the earliest examples of an ace-of-aces.
    • Cool Plane: The Red Baron's signature all-red Fokker Dr.1 triplane is quite possibly the Ur Example, although it wasn't the only aircraft he flew.
    • Sobriquet: "Red Baron", of course, and he was the Trope Namer until it was renamed to something less esoteric.
    Appearances in fiction:

    Wikipedia has a long list of Manfred Freiherr von Richthofen's appearances in various media and real-life shout-outs to the Red Baron, which was used for the first version of this list.

    Comic Books



    Live-Action TV

    • The Red Baron makes an appearance in the "Private Plane" episode of the BBC sitcom Blackadder Goes Forth. After joining the Royal Flying Corps as an excuse to escape the trenches, Captain Blackadder and Private Baldrick are shot down and captured by Manfred von Richthofen (played by Adrian Edmondson). In a parody of wartime British propaganda, the Baron is portrayed as a stuffy martinet with an exaggerated Prussian accent who lacks a sense of humour, but tries to make up for it.
    • Richthofen was featured in an episode of Fantasy Island, titled "The Red Baron", in which a patron of the island wished to save the Baron (portrayed by Ron Ely) from his doom. (October 27, 1979)
    • Richthofen appears in The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles episode "Young Indiana Jones and the Attack of the Hawkmen", in which he is portrayed by Marc Warren.
    • Richthofen has been featured on two different shows on the History Channel, Unsolved History and Man, Moment, Machine.
    • The pilot episode of the 1982 TV series Voyagers! sees the two main characters dogfighting with Richthofen when they travel back in time. In that episode, Richthofen personally challenges American ace Eddie Rickenbacker; in reality, no such engagement ever occurred.


    Newspaper Comics

    • Peanuts: "Curse you, Red Baron!" Manfred von Richthofen was mentioned regularly in the comic strip Peanuts, by Charles M. Schulz, and was included in subsequent television specials as a running gag. Charlie Brown's beagle Snoopy frequently fantasized about being a World War I flying ace. In his daydreams, he imagined his dog house to be a Sopwith Camel and carried a personal grudge against the Red Baron, whom he imagined to be his own character's arch enemy. In spite of Snoopy's best effort, however, the "Baron" always shot him down with little difficulty, leading Snoopy to curse the Baron for his success and swear to one day shoot him down.
      • This recurring story arc inspired songs by The Royal Guardsmen and even a comic strip in Mad Magazine which depicted their confrontations from the Baron's point of view.
      • The imaginary air battles between Snoopy and the Baron are referenced in The Bloody Red Baron, the second book in Kim Newman's Anno Dracula series, where a beagle resembling Snoopy is shot by the Baron, who feels a strange hatred towards the animal he cannot explain.
      • Despite the antagonistic relationship the characters had in the comic strip, novels and video games, other media depicted them in less combative roles. In the Royal Guardsmen's song Snoopy's Christmas, the Baron and Snoopy are depicted as participating in The Christmas Truce. A later song by the Guardsmen, Snoopy for President, sees the Baron cast the ballot that allows Snoopy to become President of the United States, explicitly referring to Snoopy as his friend, as he also does in Snoopy's Christmas.

    Tabletop Games

    • The Red Baron was the inspiration for Avalon Hill's 1970s board game Richthofen's War, one of the first World War I aerial combat board games.
    • The Red Baron was also prominently featured in Snoopy & The Red Baron, a Milton Bradley skill game released in 1970.

    Video Games

    There have been a number of World War I flight simulators involving Manfred von Richthofen. They include Hunt for the Red Baron, written and published by Small Rockets, Knights of the Sky by Microprose, and Red Baron by Dynamix and published by Sierra Entertainment which was followed up by a less successful sequel Red Baron II.

    Western Animation

    • In an episode of The ABC Saturday Superstar Movie, the Red Baron was portrayed as a brown German Shepherd.
    • In the animated series Wacky Races, the Red Max and his car, the Crimson Haybaler, are based on the Red Baron and his plane.
    • The New Scooby-Doo Movies episode "The Ghost of the Red Baron" features a villain masquerading as Richthofen's ghost.
    • In the animated series SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron, the undead villain Red Lynx is based on the Red Baron.
    • The Red Baron is parodied as the "Black Baron" in a Gumby episode where Gumby is an aviator of the First World War.
    • Although never seen directly, echoing the encounters in the strips, Richthofen made his first "appearance" with the Peanuts gang in their first animated special It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown in which he battles and defeats Snoopy. Snoopy and the Baron would have later encounters in various animated series episodes as well, each time defeating Snoopy with relative ease.