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The Red Air Fighter (1918)

Price $285.00 Sale

THE RED AIR FIGHTER

Manfred Von Richthofen


THE AEROPLANE & GENERAL PUBLISHING Co. Ltd, London, 1918


A rare 1918 1st UK edition of Manfred Von Richthofen's classic WW1 memoir. The 'Red Baron' was the most celebrated flying ace of the First World War. He fought with his 'Flying Circus' over the Western Front against other legendary fliers including Lanoe Hawker, Albert Ball, and Cecil Lewis.

Richthofen sustained a serious head wound on 6 July 1917, during combat near Wervik, Belgium against a formation of FE 2d two-seaters of 20 Squadron RFC, causing instant disorientation and temporary blindness. He regained his vision in time to execute a forced landing in a field in friendly territory. The injury required multiple operations, and it was said to have affected him throughout the rest of his flying career. During his convalescent leave, Richthofen completed his memoir, Der Rote Kampfflieger (The Red Air Fighter, 1917). Although written on the instructions of the Press and Intelligence section of the Luftstreitkräfte, and no doubt subject to official wartime censorship and editing, there are many passages that are clearly authentic, as when Richthofen wrote: "My father discriminates between a sportsman and a butcher. The latter shoots for fun. When I have shot down an Englishman, my hunting passion is satisfied for a quarter of an hour. Therefore I do not succeed in shooting down two Englishmen in succession. If one of them comes down, I have the feeling of complete satisfaction. Only much later have I overcome my instinct and have become a butcher". In another passage, Richthofen wrote "I am in wretched spirits after every aerial combat. I believe that [the war] is not as the people at home imagine it, with a hurrah and a roar; it is very serious, very grim." The first UK edition (translated by J. Ellis Barker and with notes by C. G. Grey) was published in 1918.

The book is illustrated with photographic plates and is signed on the front endpapers by 'H. W. Cresswell Evans, 5/10/1918'. Lieutenant Herbert William Cresswell Evans (1892-1978) joined the Artists Rifles and served with the Machine Gun Corps during WW1. He was wounded in action on 17 October 1917. There is also a small newspaper clipping with details of the death of Lothar Von Richthofen in an air crash in 1922.

Manfred Albrecht Freiherr Von Richthofen (1892–1918), known in English as Baron von Richthofen or the Red Baron, was a fighter pilot with the German Air Force during WW1. He is considered the 'ace of aces' of the war, being officially credited with 80 combat victories. Originally a cavalryman, Richthofen transferred to the Air Service in 1915, becoming one of the first members of fighter squadron Jagdstaffel 2 in 1916. He quickly distinguished himself, and during 1917 became the leader of Jasta 11. Later he led the larger fighter wing better 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, and frequently setting up in tents on improvised airfields. By 1918, Richthofen was regarded as a national hero in Germany, and respected 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, particularly the many conflicting theories about the exact circumstances of his death.

Condition:

In very good condition. The boards are in good condition, with general signs of wear and some marks. The spine and endpapers have been professionally renewed. The binding and hinges are very good and secure. The text is in good condition, with some marks and age-toning to the paper. The plates are in good condition. The book is signed on the front endpapers by 'H. W. Cresswell Evans, 5/10/1918'.

Published: 1918
Blue illustrated boards
Dimensions: 125mm x 190mm
Pages: 140