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MvR on new recruits

Event ID: 595

16 February 1917

50.367639, 3.03435
La Brayelle

Source ID: 30

The Red Baron Combat Wing, Jagdgeschwader Richthofen in Battle, Peter Kilduff, 1997, Arms and armour press

As he told an officer from the General Staff: “I have never had anything to do with ‘Kanonen’, that is, with combat-proven, experienced airmen. Only with beginners. I do not always receive I request; it is not the way it is generally imagined. My gentlemen always come fresh out of flying school. I clearly emphasize that, first, they must be under my leadership, here in my Staffel…The most important elements of flying, in my view, are skill in taking off and landing, and the personal courage with which a man goes after the enemy. To me, it is a thousand times better to have a daring fellow who might have difficulty making a left turn, but who goes hell bent for leather after the enemy than the most elegant Johannisthal airshow airman whom I cannot bring over the Front. We need daredevils, not aerial acrobats.”

Citing the lessons of his own experience, Richthofen continued: “I once flew with a gentleman who tore through dashing turns and made an absolutely marvellous impression. But in aerial combat, it seemed to me that he did not go after the enemy so smartly. And once when I was working with him, paying special attention to him – he was gone. I was in a damned tight spot and shot down an enemy, but got away by a hair. When I returned home, he reported to me that the moment the fight began he became so ill that he had to break off immediately. You could tell that when you looked at him. Aerial combat requires a special kind of nerve. ‘The I ask that you disappear immediately. I cannot use people who leave their comrades in the lurch. And when you feel sick, then you damned well better tell us at once.” There are , of course, always people who try to delay things and think: no one will take any notice of it.

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