After all, in his short career, he notched up no less than 80 combat victories – that’s five more than his nearest rival, Frenchman René Fonck, and a full 19 more than top Briton, Edward Mannock. This ace among fighter aces began the war as a cavalryman before training as a pilot in October 1915.
He achieved his first kill in September 1916 – and, thanks to his great skill as a marksman and the tactic of attacking his adversaries from above, with the sun behind him – had soon become the scourge of Allied pilots. Von Richthofen’s escapades turned him into a national hero and earned him Prussia’s highest military order.
Yet on 21 April 1918 his luck ran out, as he was shot down and killed over Amiens. The circumstances of his death are shrouded in mystery, yet what is certain is his status as the Great War’s greatest pilot.