AA37809 Albatros DV 2059/17, Manfred von Richthofen, JG1, Marckebeke, Late August 1917.
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As the most famous fighter pilot in the history of military aviation, the name Manfred von Richthofen is familiar to many people and despite the Great War claiming his life more than 100 years ago, the exploits of the Bloody Red Baron continue to be a source of fascination to this day. Originally joining the Luftstreitkräfte as an aerial observer, his fighting ambitions would lead von Richthofen to be selected for fighter training, where he would later become a legend of the air, being credited with more aerial victories than any other pilot of the Great War. He is inextricably linked with the red Fokker Triplane fighter in which he scored his final victories and indeed met his death, however, it would be the famous Albatros series of fighters which would bring him the majority of his victories. During April 1917, in a period referred to by Allied airmen as ‘Bloody April’, von Richthofen and his fellow Luftstreitkräfte pilots would take a heavy toll of British aircraft, with his personal tally standing at an impressive 21 victories. Von Richthofen sustained a significant head wound which almost cost his life whilst engaged in combat with the RFC on 6th July 1917 and although it is reported he was never quite the same person following recuperation and his return to duty, he would go on to score a further 23 victories. One of the aircraft used after his return to combat and before converting to the Fokker Triplane was Albatros DV 2059/17, which he used to claim his 58th and 59th victories. As his unit were converting to the new Triplane and this Albatros was damaged at around this same time, it is thought that this particular machine was repaired and sent for museum display in Germany, the prized aircraft of the world’s greatest fighter pilot.