425/17, Rtm. Manfred A. Freiherr von Richthofen, CO of JG 1, Cappy, France, April 1918
The Great War highest
scoring ace and respected commander of Jagdgeschwader 1 achieved his last two
victories flying this Dreidecker No. 425/17 on April 20, 1918. The aircraft had
already the national insignias adjusted according to the regulation issued by
Luftstreitkräfte on March 18, 1918, calling for the adoption of the Balkenkreuz
instead of Iron Cross. The penultimate and last victims of “Red Baron” were two
Camels of No. 3 Squadron RAF: Maj. R. Raymond-Baker as 79th victim
and Capt. D. G. Lewis as 80th. Just a day later, von Richthofen was
in combat again. As he was hunting the Camel flown by Lt. May of No. 209
Squadron, Captain Arthur “Roy” Brown came to the latter’s aid, while at the
same time, infantrymen opened machine gun fire on the red triplane. It is not
known who shot the fatal bullet which hit the “Red Baron”. The autopsy
conducted by a field surgeon indicated the mortal bullet was shot by ground
machine gun because of the angle of the hit in the chest of Manfred Richthofen.
In any case, on April 21, 1918, at 11.50, the final page in the life of Manfred
von Richthofen had been written … The aircraft depicted here had the crosses
already changed, but on the bottom of the lowest wing the paintjob was either
not finished or it was slovenly done. As red paint had to be used for crosses
adaption, it is likely the typical scratches on the port side of the cockpit
were overpainted during the process.
Lt. Rudolf Klimke, Jasta 27, Halluin-Ost, France, May 1918
As a member of FFA 55, Rudolf Klimke got his first kill on the Russian Front in 1916. In May 1917, flying an Albatros C.VII with FA 19, along with his observer, he conducted a lone night attack on London. After being transferred to Kasta 13/KG 3, he was flying big Gotha bombers. A Sopwith fighter was shot down by crew of Klimke, Leon and Reintrop over London on June 7, 1917. After that, Klimke underwent training at Jastaschule I and was assigned to Jasta 27 in September 1917. There he gradually increased his kill count to seventeen. On the same day he shot down his 17th victim, September 21, 1918, he was also seriously wounded by enemy fighter fire. Klimke managed to land on the German side of the front but was nearly killed during a bombing of the hospital, where he was treated. He did not return to a combat unit before the war ended.
August Raben, Jasta 18, Montingen (Montoy-Flanville), France, October 1917
August Raben was born on December 2, 1892. After the outbreak of War, he first served with the Feldartillerie Regiment Nr 55. He was transferred to Luftstreitkräfte on April 18, 1916, and after completion of pilot training, he was assigned to Kasta 25 in August 1916. His first fighter unit was Jasta 36, which he joined on February 17 and after he gained experience, he was transferred to the newly formed Jasta 39 to become its CO on August 2. The unit was then sent to Italy, where Raben achieved his first two victories on September 26. He was then wounded by AA fire on November 17. After recovery, he took over the lead of Jasta 15, part of JG II, on March 14, 1918. It was just six days prior to the “big swap” with Jasta 18, which ended with Raben as CO of Jasta 18 and out of the JG II assembly. As the “original” Jasta 18 kept their colors after becoming Jasta 15, Raben’s unit had to opt for new ones: red for front of the fuselage and wings and white for the rest. Raben shot down two more enemies and continued as a member of Freikorps after the war. His aircraft always sported black or white stylized raven for apparent reason, as rabe is the German word for raven. This Dr.I was no exception. It is not sure which color were the wing struts. They lacked the stenciling and seemed to be of a lighter shade than red surfaces but darker than white ones. The original white fields surrounding the older type of the crosses were overpainted with red, but the white background made the red look a little bit lighter.
Lt. Friedrich P. Kempf, Jasta 2, Bavichove, Belgium, February 1918
Friedrich Paul Kempf was born on May 9, 1894, in Freiburg. He entered military service in 1913, interrupting his technical studies. In May 1915, he was transferred from the infantry to the Luftstreitkräfte and served with bombing unit Kagohl 4 on both the Western and Balkan Fronts. In April 1917, he was assigned to Jasta Boelcke with which he served his entire career as a fighter pilot (twice interrupted by stints with Jastaschule I). Fritz Kempf distinguished himself more with his two Fokkers Dr.I than with his four kills (BE2e, Pup and two Camels). His planes were similar in appearance and carried the taunting inscription “Kennscht mi noch?” on the medium wing. The meaning is “Do you remember me?” and these words were his typical zinger. He asked this way even people he never met … More to it, he put his name on the top wing to distinguish his Dr.I from the others even more. The aircraft depicted here is the first from two “Kennst mi noch?” ones. Friedrich Kempf survived both world wars and died in 1966.
425/17 flown by Rtm. Manfred A.
Freiherr von Richthofen, CO of JG 1, Lechelle, France, March 1918
Manfred Albrecht von Richthofen is rightfully considered the greatest fighter pilot of the First World War as he knocked eighty enemies down prior to his death on April 21, 1918. No one knows what his score might be, if the things went a different way and he had the opportunity to fly the Fokker D.VII in combat- a new fighter he liked very much. On contrary to the general perception, the Fokker Dr.I was not his typical mount, as he shot down only 17 out of his 80 victims while flying the Dreidecker for the short period of March and April 1918. He was assigned to the Luftstreitkräfte on his own request in 1915 after his service with a cavalry unit. He became an observer but when he met Oswald Boelcke, the impr fighter ace charisma made him to request pilot training. On completion of that, he became pilot of observer aircraft, but after another meeting with Boelcke he joined the ranks of the newly formed Jasta 2. In January 1917, von Richthofen was awarded the highly coveted Pour le Mérite and was subsequently made CO of Jasta 11. In June 1917, he received orders to form Jagdgeschwader 1 from Jasta 4, 6, 10 and 11 units. He led this “wing” until his death on April 21, 1918. Von Richthofen had his aircraft painted red from January 1917 when he led Jasta 11 and flew the Albatros D.III. He carried this practice over to the Fokker Dr.I which he flew as JG 1 Commanding Officer.
Lt. Werner Steinhäuser, Jasta 11, Avesnes-le-Sec, France, February, 1918
Werner Steinhäuser was born on June 29, 1893. As a wartime pilot he first served with FA(A) 261 where he achieved his first kill, when he shot down an observing balloon on August 20, 1917. Four months later he was reassigned to Jasta 11, where he started his career by destroying another balloon on January 13, 1918, and gradually increased his count to ten victories. He was wounded when forced to land on March 17, 1918, but recovered and got back to the action. In the morning of June 26, 1918, he was shot down in his Fokker D.VII and killed in combat with French SPADs from either Spa 124 or Spa 93. Steinhäuser flew at least two Dreideckers. The first had the fuselage band red with yellow crosses, on the other one the colors were reversed as they were for the horizontal stabilizer and elevator.