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100 years ago - von Richthofen

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Posted (edited)

Baron Manfred von Richthofen was shot down on April 21. He was buried 100 years ago today.

He was only 25 when he was shot down.

For many years an pilot named Brown was credited with the fatal shot. Best evidence to date is that he was hit once by a .303 machine gun bullet from an Australian named Snowy Evans. Brown could not possibly have shot him down. The bullet entry wound was low on his right side, exiting near his left nipple. He was hit once from a low angle. Brown's attack was from high and behind.  There were two other Australians, but Evans was the only one whose known location made the shot possible.  Pathologists who have examined the post mortem photographs and notes say he could not have lived more than one minute after that hit. That was about enough time for him to cut power and land in the field straight ahead. His Fokker Dr.1 ended up on it's nose. Photographs of the other two Aussies exist, as well as all the pilots. Snowy Evans is the only one for whom there is no known picture.

 

Video of his burial service. Full military honors by the Brits and ANZACS.

At the time of his death, Baron von Richthofen was the greatest air ace of the First World War. He had shot down 80 opponents. As such his passing was treated with great respect and he was accorded a full military funeral.

 

 

 

Edited by Gordon200

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He did something he never did. He allowed himself to be drawn far from his squadron and over the enemy lines. It's interesting to think what might have been had he survived the war. He would, I'm sure had fallen under the spell of the Nazis, and as Germany's greatest pilot, he might even have been asked to head the new Luftwaffe. He would have been a much better commander than that fat, drug addict, Goring. It might have been a much different, maybe more competent, air force that Germany went to war with. 

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Posted (edited)

Brown was born about 30 miles from where I live.

 

May became a famous bush pilot in Canada. Should add that Wop is not a slur on Italians > his two-year-old cousin, Mary Lumsden, could not pronounce Wilfrid and called him "Woppie". This gave him his nickname "Wop".

Edited by MiloMorai
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Posted (edited)
On 4/22/2018 at 11:45 PM, Poochnboo said:

He did something he never did. He allowed himself to be drawn far from his squadron and over the enemy lines. It's interesting to think what might have been had he survived the war. He would, I'm sure had fallen under the spell of the Nazis, and as Germany's greatest pilot, he might even have been asked to head the new Luftwaffe. He would have been a much better commander than that fat, drug addict, Goring. It might have been a much different, maybe more competent, air force that Germany went to war with. 

 

Author Jim 'JFM' Miller wrote the following over on SimHQ about the idea that MvR did something unusual which lead to his death:

 

Found in this thread, referencing this article.

 

Quote

That newspaper is rife with error, at least regarding Richthofen as being "in a diminished state" in the last months of his life, and "breaking his own golden rule." My research has proved all that is horse hockey. It's wrong. He was absolutely recovered from his head wound nine months after receiving it.

 

Quote

Hi! It's real easy: MvR acted the way he did because he had *always* acted that way. He did *nothing* different on 21 April 1918 than he had done at any other time in his career, including *before* his head wound. The problem is these "changes" and "violations" that we've all read about are erroneous conclusions based on outright error. I have a 20,000+ word chapter on this subject alone in my MvR book--I dare say it is more thorough, encompassing, and larger than anything else ever written on the subject, even it it was all combined and then quadrupled. It's a bit much to put it all in here (buy the book! smile2 MvR Vol 2) but I'll gladly discuss/debate/answer questions.

Here is what my research--based on the exact same sources everyone else has had access to, because there are only so many--has determined conclusively:

MvR did not have PTSD; did not have constant headaches; did not have constant nausea; did not exhibit unusual personality changes; did not "hide within his four walls" after his head wound until KIA; did not "violate" his personal combat dicta in any way; did nothing on 21 April that he had not done over a dozen times before, that we know of.

Remember, I used to believe he DID have all those things and DID "violate" his combat dicta. But after years of research focused on this very subject, I had to follow the facts.

What do you want to talk about first? Let me know what I can help with/correct.

 

Quote

"...the one thing that would help significantly is knowing if those who were close to him, ever commented in written or officially recorded orally if they had noted any persistent changes after the head injury that would intimate he was not functioning at full potential..."

Actually, the opposite is true. Every anecdote indicates he was jovial, accessible, normal at the end of his life. The "nausea" so often cited actually only occurred after his first flight post-wounding back in August 1917, and just that one time, at least as has been recorded. There are no other records of any sort of in-flight nausea. Nor did he experience nausea from the wound and fly anyway, as is claimed; the nausea was because of the flight, the result of it. Yet, this one event has been turned into "he experienced nausea and flew anyway, and did so until he was killed." Simply not true and a gross exaggeration of the result of one flight. Similarly, there is only one further anecdote about headache after his release from the hospital, which came from his mother. It's the known story how when on leave at home, MvR had a headache and took a nap from which he was awakened to greet well-wishers, and he appeared surly when he came down from the bedroom. Somehow this has turned into he "always" had headaches until he died. Not true, at least as has been recorded. And there are anecdotes indicating that MvR would be irritated be awakened from any nap, not just that one! So the irritation from being awakened from a nap was normal, and the headache might have been the result of his wounding--the headache in question happened in September 1917, after all--or he might have just had a headache. Who knows? But either way, there are NO records or anecdotes of chronic headaches for the rest of his life. None.

Interesting that his mother's words about one headache, etc., in September 1917 have been taken as gospel and propelled forward to cover the rest of his life, but these comments she made about MvR's visit at the end of January 1918 are virtually ignored:

"[Manfred] was hungry. He at a large piece of the groat-torte. I seated myself next to him. 'How does it taste to you?' 'Superb!' Suddenly our eyes met, and we laughed in unison, like two playful children."

"[Manfred] looked healthier and fresher compared to when he was on leave in the fall... Certainly--he had never complained, but for a time it [being wounded] had crippled all his strength. He had looked altered; very wretched and sensitive, as I saw him again at that time [three months previous]. That was now past."

"THAT WAS NOW PAST." The mention of one headache in September 1917 becomes a chronic condition until MvR is killed seven months later, but three months before his death his mother says in essence he looks better and his strength has returned, and this is ignored?

 

All very interesting; I don't own his books, but his work seems pretty well-researched and received good remarks from those who do own them.

 

Also had no idea that the cockpit seat that Richtofen died in is in Toronto at the RCMI, open to the public upon request. 

Edited by Tuesday
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Hello. Yes, as Tuesday noted from another thread, MvR did nothing unusual on 21 April 1918. He'd been low over enemy lines numerous times, starting back when he was a two-seater pilot, bombing/strafing Russian troops in 1916. He wrote about one attack he conducted from "the lowest possible altitude." Ernst Udet wrote about Richthofen leading him and others on a very low-altitude (about thirty feet) strafing run after an aerial clash in March 1918, shooting at British troops. And, after cross-checking RAF reports, German reports, pilot anecdotes, and maps from April 1918, I discovered the entire MvR/May chase occurred behind the lines. I.e., Richthofen didn't chase May over the lines, nor--respectfully--was he drawn over them. He and May were already over the lines when the chase began. 21 April 1918 was just another day at the office, so to speak. Only that day, instead of return ground fire only hitting a strut or a wing or the fuselage, a bullet hit him

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Posted (edited)

Yes, Jim and I were conversing about this subject over at Sim Hq and I realized that by making my comment, I had been under the same mistaken impression that most people are under. That he did something different that day and it cost him his life.

Edited by Poochnboo
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Posted (edited)
On 23/04/2018 at 11:45 AM, Poochnboo said:

He did something he never did. He allowed himself to be drawn far from his squadron and over the enemy lines. It's interesting to think what might have been had he survived the war. He would, I'm sure had fallen under the spell of the Nazis, and as Germany's greatest pilot, he might even have been asked to head the new Luftwaffe. He would have been a much better commander than that fat, drug addict, Goring. It might have been a much different, maybe more competent, air force that Germany went to war with. 

 

Yeah interesting to think had he lived he may have gone down as one of history's biggest criminals. To be fair they say Goring was a very competent and intelligent man before his drug addiction got a hold of him. IQ of 138 apparently which is pretty impressive!

 

Edited by Wolf8312

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On 5.5.2018 at 9:39 PM, Wolf8312 said:

 

... To be fair they say Goring was a very competent and intelligent man before his drug addiction got a hold of him. IQ of 138 apparently which is pretty impressive!

 

 

A stable genious then.

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That's probably better as a warning against the value of IQ tests than anything else.

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10 hours ago, Sambot88 said:

That's probably better as a warning against the value of IQ tests than anything else.

 

Perhaps but then I think people who were pretty much proven to be men of genius such as Einstein also scored pretty highly! I'm sure, at any rate, a pattern has begun to emerge by now...

 

On 07/05/2018 at 7:28 PM, ZachariasX said:

 

A stable genious then.

 

You spelt genius wrong genius! :P

 

1 Hjalmar Schacht 143
2 Arthur Seyss-Inquart 141
3 Hermann Goering 138
4 Karl Doenitz 138
5 Franz von Papen 134
6 Eric Raeder 134
7 Dr. Hans Frank 130
8 Hans Fritsche 130
9 Baldur von Schirach 130
10 Joachim von Ribbentrop 129
11 Wilhelm Keitel 129
12 Albert Speer 128
13 Alfred Jodl 127
14 Alfred Rosenberg 127
15 Constantin von Neurath 125
16 Walther Funk 124
17 Wilhelm Frick 124
18 Rudolf Hess 120
19 Fritz Sauckel 118
20 Ernst Kaltenbrunner 113
21 Julius Streicher 106

 

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1 hour ago, Wolf8312 said:

You spelt genius wrong genius! :P

It is as smart as I let him be.

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Posted (edited)

As IQ tests are one of the earlier forms of pseudo-science, and the Nazis were huge fans of pseudo-science, that list is not surprising. Even if we assume they didn't fudge their results for street cred (Nazis valued the idea of being smarter than the rest as part of their whole master race thing) we can safely assume that they were at the very least learned men. IQ tests measure the ability of someone to learn according to conventional metrics, which is a form of intelligence, but not really "raw" intelligence.

 

It's been a long time since I've seen anyone give real credence to them in a historical discussion, but I'm sure better methods of measuring raw intelligence have since been devised by real experts.

 

Edit: Choosing to follow Hitler or not once it became painfully apparent what he was up to may be a better metric than IQ tests for determining intelligence. After all, IQ of 138 or not, Georing still basically allied himself with a cause that got him unsurprisingly executed and which should have been obviously unwinnable from his own perspective rather early on.

Edited by Sambot88
Ew, grammar

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Oh look, another derailed topic...

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59 minutes ago, LukeFF said:

Oh look, another derailed topic...

 

And it didn’t even take a single page :unsure:

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8 posts, actually. I don't really see how it could have progressed further as a RIP Richtofen thread though, so really its more like a natural evolution than a hijacking?

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, LukeFF said:

Oh look, another derailed topic...

He (goring) was the last commander of Jagdgeschwader 1, the fighter wing once led by Manfred von Richthofen.

So not entirely off topic! 

 

Besides on or off topic I think what’s more important for the health and good of this forum is people taking the time and effort to make positive contributions which serve to further debate and communication! Positivity Luke! 

 

8 hours ago, Sambot88 said:

As IQ tests are one of the earlier forms of pseudo-science, and the Nazis were huge fans of pseudo-science, that list is not surprising. Even if we assume they didn't fudge their results for street cred (Nazis valued the idea of being smarter than the rest as part of their whole master race thing) we can safely assume that they were at the very least learned men. IQ tests measure the ability of someone to learn according to conventional metrics, which is a form of intelligence, but not really "raw" intelligence.

 

It's been a long time since I've seen anyone give real credence to them in a historical discussion, but I'm sure better methods of measuring raw intelligence have since been devised by real experts.

 

Edit: Choosing to follow Hitler or not once it became painfully apparent what he was up to may be a better metric than IQ tests for determining intelligence. After all, IQ of 138 or not, Georing still basically allied himself with a cause that got him unsurprisingly executed and which should have been obviously unwinnable from his own perspective rather early on.

 

The IQ tests were actually taken by the allies themselves at Nuremberg. Top of the list was Schacht, which makes sense when you consider he is acclaimed as the expert who contributed most to Germany’s economic recovery under Hitler.

 

I’m listening to an audio book right now actually about some of the stupid decisions Goring made. But clever people especially those who are driven by their own narcissism and egoism are capable is doing very stupid things, and refusing to ever accept they might be wrong. It’s ironic but some of the most intelligent people I ever met were also the most stupid and ignorant because they were unable to keep an open mind about anything.

 

Goring though was actually one of the few nazis against going to war and worked very hard to avoid it. 

But I think in the final analysis the psychologist who interviewed him at Nuremberg had it right when he called him a moral coward. He went along with hitler, mainly for ambition, but also because he lacked the will to stand up to him even when he didn’t agree. But I don’t think anyone could have foreseen where nazism was headed...

 

Whereas I think of Hitler as evil or mad I think of Goring in more Shakespearean terms,  the epitome of the adage that power corrupts...

Edited by Wolf8312

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Posted (edited)

The leading allied scientists of the time had no more a modern understanding of IQ tests than the Nazis did. It's not a good measure of intelligence, is all I'm saying. And any leading Nazi who hadn't figured out that Hitler was bad news by the time Hitler's book became required reading is more than just a moral coward.

 

All of the leading nazis are nuanced figures, like all human beings are. I wouldn't suggest that any of them were particularly intelligent compared to people in similar positions of power and authority in the allied militaries. Even Hitler is more than just a madman when you look at him closely. But to paraphrase plenty of real historians "The Nazis lost because they were Nazis." They put their faith in the idea that they were somehow superior and could overcome any strategic shortcoming just by being "better" in the short term. It was an ideological failing, and so you have to analyze all of them as people who couldn't sniff out a doomed ideology even when it was literally staring them in the face. That's a more important factor in analyzing any of the leading figures of the Nazi regime than IQ tests, drug addiction, narcissism, or what have you. There were plenty of smart narcissists working for the allies too, and probably plenty of drug addicts.

 

So whether they stayed through idealism, patriotic loyalty, or were true believers... they were all too dumb to jump ship before they were obviously going to be put on trial for war-crimes in a war that was obviously lost. Just group-thinking gangsters.

 

Edit: I'd be interested in checking out that book though. Smart or not, they are morbidly fascinating figures.

 

Edited by Sambot88
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Posted (edited)
9 hours ago, Sambot88 said:

The leading allied scientists of the time had no more a modern understanding of IQ tests than the Nazis did. It's not a good measure of intelligence, is all I'm saying. And any leading Nazi who hadn't figured out that Hitler was bad news by the time Hitler's book became required reading is more than just a moral coward.

 

All of the leading nazis are nuanced figures, like all human beings are. I wouldn't suggest that any of them were particularly intelligent compared to people in similar positions of power and authority in the allied militaries. Even Hitler is more than just a madman when you look at him closely. But to paraphrase plenty of real historians "The Nazis lost because they were Nazis." They put their faith in the idea that they were somehow superior and could overcome any strategic shortcoming just by being "better" in the short term. It was an ideological failing, and so you have to analyze all of them as people who couldn't sniff out a doomed ideology even when it was literally staring them in the face. That's a more important factor in analyzing any of the leading figures of the Nazi regime than IQ tests, drug addiction, narcissism, or what have you. There were plenty of smart narcissists working for the allies too, and probably plenty of drug addicts.

 

So whether they stayed through idealism, patriotic loyalty, or were true believers... they were all too dumb to jump ship before they were obviously going to be put on trial for war-crimes in a war that was obviously lost. Just group-thinking gangsters.

 

Edit: I'd be interested in checking out that book though. Smart or not, they are morbidly fascinating figures.

 

 

I think we're in danger of going off, the off topic but oh well!

 

I would say again doing stupid things, and making poor choices in life, is not the prerogative of stupid people. One could argue that intelligent people are burdened by personalties of greater complexity/contradiction and as a result make poorer choices and do stupider things in life than their less intelligent peers, though obviously I have no statistics to back this up!

 

But as an example why do intelligent people become alcoholics, when they should be able to just logically figure out that continuing to drink is a very bad idea? What I'm trying to say is that the stupid choices we make do not automatically make us stupid people any more than the clever decisions make us intelligent.

Do you think it impossible that if you had lived in Germany through and after the first world war, that you too could not also have been seduced by the Nazi's when the glittering temptations of power and wealth (or just plain adherence to authority) were dangled before you?

 

Also I think you are underestimating and downplaying the achievements and magnetic attraction/charisma of Adolf Hitler. He did not transform from an anonymous infantry man into one of the most powerful/heinous leaders the world has ever known simply out of dumb luck. It was a sheer act of will, and like it or not, he possessed genuine talent, and was a courageous and born leader, effortlessly able to dominate even the dominant- for example men such as Goring himself.

I suggest you read inside the Third Reich by Albert Speer (a book that should convince you that speer in any case was not a stupid man) to get a better sense of why so many people -intelligent and stupid alike- fell under his spell.

 

This is not me worshipping Hitler BTW as I accept he was also in many ways an ignorant and closed/narrow minded fool, but the tendency to emotionally demonize, or dismiss the Nazis as simply idiots, does nothing to aid in understanding their appeal, and why they were so successful. Can you seriously make the argument that Joseph Goebbles for example was a stupid man? Honestly I don't think so, and I don't think anyone who ever met him would have described him as anything but an intelligent man (his greatest weapon in conversation apparently)...

 

Hitlers followers really did believe in him, and I don't think this proves they were intellectual inadequates, because to be fair he had indeed demonstrated to them time, and time again, that he and his sheer will would succeed. And it did! Again and again and again...

 

Also I respectfully don't agree. The Nazis didn't lose because of ideology as were that the case the soviets would also have lost although the soviets did for expediency somewhat do away with ideology as the war progressed and were far better off for it. I think the interesting thing is that as the war went on both sides became more like the other side was in the beginning, with the soviets becoming less ideological and more pragmatic (placing the right men in the right places militarily) and the Germans becoming more ideological and less pragmatic, selecting 'good national socialists' instead of good military leaders. But they were finished a long time before this type of thing began to happen I think..

 

Don't get me wrong I am not saying that stupid ideology and rigidity of thinking did not play a part (especially in Russia) but the more I read about the second world war, the more I realize that even at the height of his power, and despite a string of dazzling triumphs Hitler stood very little chance of ever actually winning the war against Britain due to the fact that he was starved of badly needed resources, and his army/navy simply was not powerful enough to deal with Britain and it's empire, and the aid that America was providing.

 

People often downplay Britain's role in bringing down the Nazis but actually it was huge. It meant that Germany even after conquering Europe was besieged, and its defeat just a matter of time, with the only hope of breaking the blockade being to strike eastwards and gobbling up its own badly needed resources.

In short they lost because they were simply not powerful enough to win, not because they were evil with a sick racist ideology...
 

For if that were the case, and if what goes around always comes back around, America itself probably wouldn't have gotten very far either!

Edited by Wolf8312
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Posted (edited)

You make some good points but I think their ideology was more than just evil sick racism. It was short-sighted elitism. They went ahead and attacked Poland before most of the military thought it was ready. Ditto France. Because it "worked" those times they kept rolling the dice, with the Battle of Britain, the intervention in North Africa, and finally with Barbarossa. From the start Nazism was about aggressive and quick expansion, not just sick racism. This anti-strategic way of thinking was central to the way that "true believing" Nazis prosecuted the war, and was central to the criticisms that many Germans leveled at the Nazi command structure after the war.

 

I don't intend that as a harsh criticism of what you wrote though. That's a great post and you should make a short book list for those interested in doing some reading on the subject.

Edited by Sambot88
Ew, grammar

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Nah thanks man no offence taken, its nice to have a discussion about these things without it devolving into an argument. You're right. Much of Hitlers early success was down to calculated gambles that sometimes just very luckily happened to work out (the invasion of France), and yes their, or rather Hitlers lack of an overall global strategy and misunderstanding/neglecting the importance of sea power was a huge weakness. I often find myself wondering what he might have done differently to have attained an overall victory.

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18 hours ago, Sambot88 said:

So whether they stayed through idealism, patriotic loyalty, or were true believers... they were all too dumb to jump ship before they were obviously going to be put on trial for war-crimes in a war that was obviously lost. Just group-thinking gangsters.

 

Dissidents were send to concentration camps or murdered immediately - so yup - gangsters, indeed. Conformity is vital to survival under totalitarian regimes

 

Just now, Wolf8312 said:

I often find myself wondering what he might have done differently to have attained an overall victory.

 

Must had proper realistic goals first - no gonna happen with a narcissist and a megalomaniac.

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1 hour ago, Wolf8312 said:

rather Hitlers lack of an overall global strategy

 

I think he had a strategy, it just did not work out as he planned. He wanted to expand to east (Lebensraum), but ended up fighting everywhere.

 

1 hour ago, Wolf8312 said:

misunderstanding/neglecting the importance of sea power was a huge weakness

 

Well, building up Luftwaffe from ashes, Heer from ashes, upgrading infrastructure, Autobahns and everything, building Bismarck, Tirpitz and other ships, getting started on carrier Graf Zeppelin ... somewhere comes a limit what is doable in a span of a few years for an economy like Germany in the late 30's. 

In addition to that, Germany's goal was to expand east, on their own continent, instead of becoming colonial power or world police or things like that, so it is quite logical why navy was not top priority.

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Dissidents were send to concentration camps or murdered immediately - so yup - gangsters, indeed. Conformity is vital to survival under totalitarian regimes

 

I was thinking of the leading members of the regime. There's a big difference between Goering and the common soldier or even the typical General. While most Germans, even higher ranking ones, can probably be safely classified as victims of the times I don't think it is any stretch to say that Goering was not one of those people. If Nazi Germany was divided in the end between gangsters doing the oppressing and people being oppressed I find it very hard to put Goering anywhere but in the Gangster category.

 

Quote

Must had proper realistic goals first - no gonna happen with a narcissist and a megalomaniac.

 

There were plenty of megalomaniacal narcissists working for all sides. Would you want Patton or MacArthur in charge of a totalitarian regime? Hitler isn't the mystery of Nazi Germany, it's how he came to be wielding that kind of power that is. The weird balance between people thinking they could benefit from his schemes and people who believed in his goals all form a much broader and more interesting tale of group behavior gone horribly wrong.

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Besides comparative psychoanalysis (which I don‘t care much about) Richthofens last flight gives us some valuable info on real world flight speeds of the Dr.I and the Camel.

 

The Dr.I must have been faster than the Camel. Richthofen wouldn‘t have decided to chase down his potential prey without expecting to catch up to him. The speed differential is however only very marginal. Richthofen must have been rather close to him in order to take the decision for a chase. Maybe 500 m or so. Anyone has more specifics? There was a chase starting with a dive that lasted over several minutes. It seems Richthofen was not firing his guns at the time he fell to the man in the trenches, meaning he still had to be at least at maximum shooting distance. Brown used up altitide to come close to Richthofen but was barely able to do so. 

 

Reading Arthur Gould, the Albatros was that much faster than the Camel, that it was not an option to chase (or run).

 

Just to gauge some speed differentials for FC... 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, ZachariasX said:

Besides comparative psychoanalysis (which I don‘t care much about) Richthofens last flight gives us some valuable info on real world flight speeds of the Dr.I and the Camel.

 

The Dr.I must have been faster than the Camel. Richthofen wouldn‘t have decided to chase down his potential prey without expecting to catch up to him. The speed differential is however only very marginal. Richthofen must have been rather close to him in order to take the decision for a chase. Maybe 500 m or so. Anyone has more specifics? There was a chase starting with a dive that lasted over several minutes. It seems Richthofen was not firing his guns at the time he fell to the man in the trenches, meaning he still had to be at least at maximum shooting distance. Brown used up altitide to come close to Richthofen but was barely able to do so. 

 

Reading Arthur Gould, the Albatros was that much faster than the Camel, that it was not an option to chase (or run).

 

Just to gauge some speed differentials for FC... 

 

OI! This is about Goring (wait Hitler) you uncouth lout! :biggrin:

Edited by Wolf8312
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Richthofen WAS shooting at May, several witnesses on the ground attested to this. But one gun was inop and the other would only fire a couple rounds at a time and needed manual re-cocking, so his rate of fire was severely limited. Wreckage examination revealed that this gun became inop, too, and its speculated that when it did is when he broke off his pursuit and turned for home, only to be KIA moments later. 

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1 hour ago, JFM said:

Richthofen WAS shooting at May, several witnesses on the ground attested to this. But one gun was inop and the other would only fire a couple rounds at a time and needed manual re-cocking, so his rate of fire was severely limited. Wreckage examination revealed that this gun became inop, too, and its speculated that when it did is when he broke off his pursuit and turned for home, only to be KIA moments later. 

Interesting. The faster he clould close in, the more speed margin he must have had. That would also have depended on the initial dive preceding the low level chase. Brown must have always had some distance to Richthofen, as he could not catch up sufficiently to make Richthofen break away (or kill him).

 

I find it always surprising how well biplanes can compare to regular GA aircraft in terms of speed. A Bücker 131 Jungmann you can cruise even slighly above 170 km/h. They are not that much slower than regular Cessnas (with some 190 km/h) with a similar engine despite the bracing wires. Albeit those are each with a hammered finish to make them more aerodynamic. Those are some of the more expensive wires... Rather than top speed, they differ more in modern AC's far better "boom&zoom" qualities.

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Also, May was flying a weaving course compared to MvR, and it was reported MvR "cut the corners" on river bends as May followed the river. This allowed him to close distance. As far as Brown, he boom-and-zoomed MvR once and then disappeared. It is speculative that MvR even saw him. If he did, he must have concluded Brown was no threat because he did not disengage from his pursuit.  

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4 hours ago, ZachariasX said:

Albeit those are each with a hammered finish to make them more aerodynamic. Those are some of the more expensive wires...

 

Maybe I have misunderstood you but WW1 a/c had flattened wires for less drag.

 

Sopwith_2F1_Camel_Rigging_Wires.jpg

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1 hour ago, MiloMorai said:

 

Maybe I have misunderstood you but WW1 a/c had flattened wires for less drag.

 

Sopwith_2F1_Camel_Rigging_Wires.jpg

Yes, they did from quiet early on on several types. I guess it also helps to keep the wires from vibrating caused by the airstream. This would certainly make rigging easier. But I am speculating here a bit. In the Bücker, the bracings seem absolutlely steady in flight.

 

Making those bracings is really a lot of work and requires craftmanship. They come as long steel rods and you have to hammer them into a nice profile shape. Labor back then was cheap. Nowadays... you better don‘t tell your spouse if you have to get new bracings.

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8 hours ago, MiloMorai said:

Hammered? Didn't they have roller presses back in the day?

Back in the days, they surely must have used roller presses, especially with regards to the number of bracings produced. But I wonder how close you can get with those to the finished product. The leading edge is kept more rounded.

 

A lot of what was standard procedure then contains a lot of craftsmanship compared to what we consider todays standard for mass production.

 

 

14 hours ago, JFM said:

Also, May was flying a weaving course compared to MvR, and it was reported MvR "cut the corners" on river bends as May followed the river. This allowed him to close distance. As far as Brown, he boom-and-zoomed MvR once and then disappeared. It is speculative that MvR even saw him. If he did, he must have concluded Brown was no threat because he did not disengage from his pursuit.  

 

So May was unaware of being chased then? Or noticed being chased when MvR was already shooting at him.

 

Following an unaware target in these circumstanced would indeed be still standard procedure.

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One can't get a round edge when flattening a piece of round stock?

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ZachariasX, yes, May knew he was being chased. He didn't notice MvR until he realized he was being fired on. Wrote May, in 1950: "After I leveled off, I looked around but nobody was following me... This wasn't to last long, and the first thing I knew I was being fired on from the rear... all I could do was try to dodge my attacker."

 

 

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4 hours ago, MiloMorai said:

One can't get a round edge when flattening a piece of round stock?

I bet you can. But if you can make it such that you get it such like a thick wong profile, larger radius in the front, small radius on the other side while maintaining a nice curve, then I‘m impressed.

 

But I‘m certain they would have been fairly efficient at making that. They made so much of that. Today, the costs for new bracing wires indicate at least now a lot of craftsmanship is required. You still have to guarantee the quality of the steel after the shaping. What was fairly trivial then may be very complicated today. You can see that by the fact that you can count the number of people doing this for you on one hand. The number of people (that I would know of) that can (are certified to) put the „clothes“ on an aircraft in Switzerland has come down to one. It is difficult getting heavy tools for tasks that are not done anymore.

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DRI vs Camel: actual sea level speeds were about 115 MPH vs 118 MPH.  Of course each individual plane might be a bit faster or (more likely) slower so they effectively had the same speed.

 

On Richthofen: I wonder what role the changing lines played.  Unlike earlier times when lines were much better marked, in April 1918 the front was fluid.  He probably didn't know he was over enemy infantry until it was too late.

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On 5/16/2018 at 9:29 AM, PatrickAWlson said:

DRI vs Camel: actual sea level speeds were about 115 MPH vs 118 MPH.  Of course each individual plane might be a bit faster or (more likely) slower so they effectively had the same speed.

 

On Richthofen: I wonder what role the changing lines played.  Unlike earlier times when lines were much better marked, in April 1918 the front was fluid.  He probably didn't know he was over enemy infantry until it was too late.

 

First, apologies for joining this discussion so late.  

 

I did get to the crash site this year for the 100th anniversary, and it was an eye-opening experience.  I've read a lot of historians on MvR and his final flight, so much wonderful research!  Having flown the Dr.I though, and been to the crash site, and participated in mock dogfights, I think I have a good understanding of what MvR faced that day.  I am still organizing my pictures, but when I flew the route in France, it appeared to me that it would be very easy to become disoriented.  After MvR made his dive out of the fight, he might as well have stuffed his head in a bag and tried to maintain his situational awareness.  At tree top height, it all looks the same.  If, in that first instant he dove out of the fight after May, he thought he was heading into German territory, he would never have known otherwise until he stopped his attack on May.  

 

On 5/10/2018 at 10:03 AM, ZachariasX said:

Interesting. The faster he clould close in, the more speed margin he must have had. That would also have depended on the initial dive preceding the low level chase. Brown must have always had some distance to Richthofen, as he could not catch up sufficiently to make Richthofen break away (or kill him).

 

I find it always surprising how well biplanes can compare to regular GA aircraft in terms of speed. A Bücker 131 Jungmann you can cruise even slighly above 170 km/h. They are not that much slower than regular Cessnas (with some 190 km/h) with a similar engine despite the bracing wires. Albeit those are each with a hammered finish to make them more aerodynamic. Those are some of the more expensive wires... Rather than top speed, they differ more in modern AC's far better "boom&zoom" qualities.

Since you mention the Jungmann..My Dr.I with the same engine and propeller is slightly faster than the Jungmann. 

 

Regarding Brown, I am not entirely sure his story is true at all.  At best, I think he lost sight of MvR at some point in his attack which would mean he was too far away to make a successful shot at him.  At worst, I think he happened by the same area and the whole story was made up on his behalf in order to give credit to an airman instead of the guys on the ground for the propaganda value.

 

What killed MvR?  The hill at the bend in the river.  Without that hill, I think he got away clean.  Instead, May turned south, and MvR went north up over the hill.  That hill is about 150ft high.  A maximum zoom from the Dr. I will get you about 300-400 feet, and you will be sitting at the top doing about 60 mph.  MvR burned about half of his energy available to zoom just clearing the hill.  Arriving 150 feet above the hill, I estimate his speed at 70 mph when he was hit.  He might as well have put it in park and let them shoot at him.

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On 5/10/2018 at 1:59 AM, ZachariasX said:

....There was a chase starting with a dive that lasted over several minutes....

 

For perspective, the total chase of May by MvR lasted no more than 2 minutes.  From where the fight was happening to MvR's crash site, via the path down the river, is 2.9 mi.  If they chased at a leisurely 90 mph, it is right at 2 minutes flight time.  If they ran the planes hard and hit 110 mph, it is about 1 minute 36 seconds.  It probably seemed like an eternity to May, but it was just a blink.  

 

MvR had a documented technique to shoot at his distant enemy in order to get him weave and slow down enough for him to catch up.  Weaving does several things to slow you down. One, you fly a longer distance.  Two, every time you make a control input to change your direction rapidly, you increase drag.  If MvR was firing while out of range, that was his purpose: slow May down.  Spectators to the chase say he made it in very close to May before breaking off.  

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@Chill31

Thanks for the insight.  The hill is new information to me.  Low and slow or otherwise. he still got nailed by the golden BB.  His plane was not badly hit, if at all, except for that one shot.  

 

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