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Victory 07

Event ID: 139

03 November 1916

50.103619734533304, 2.7943964419915543
north-east of Grevillers Wood

Source ID: 13

Under the guns of the Red Baron, Norman Franks, Hal Giblin and Nigel McCrery

ISBN: 9781898697275

Combat Report: 1410 hrs, north-east of Grevillers Wood. Vickers two-seater No. 7010.

Accompanied by two machines of the Staffel, I attacked a low flying plane at 1.800 metres altitude. After 400 shots, adversary dashed to the ground. The plane was smashed to pieces, inmates killed. As the place where the plan fell is under heavy fire, no details can be ascertained as yet.

Weather: very strong winds all day, low clouds in the morning; clearing in the afternoon.

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  1. source: Inside the victories of Manfred von richthofen – Volume 1, James F. Miller, Aeronaut Books, 2016

    Although at this time it is possible Richthofen flew both the Albatros D.I and Dell, based on the ca. two month span between production order and in-field machine arrival it is presumed that Richthofen primarily flew a Dell by November.

    Supporting this are several photographs that show Richthofen standing near an overpainted Albatros D.II with a white stripe around its engine cowl; reasonable circumstantial photographic provenance that suggests (but does not prove) this was his personal machine, regardless of its serial number (which cannot be seen). These photographs are also the keystone for associating Richthofen with the similarly marked Albatros D.1391/16.

    One photograph features Richthofen, Ltn.d.R. Hans Wortmann, Oblt. Stefan Kirmaier, and Ltn.d.R. Hans Imelmann standing next to the overpainted/white-striped Albatros D.II. Since Wortmann arrived at Jasta 2 in early November and Kirmaier was KiA 22 November, these events date the photograph as having been taken some time during the first three weeks of November—certainly between 9 November (Wortmann’s first victory) and Kirmaier’s death 22 November. When during this period is unknown but if dovetailed with the previous paragraph it is reasonably certain that by November 1916 Richthofen had been issued and was flying this Albatros Dell. Although photographed next to this airplane, other photographs associate Kirmaier with another D.II, and a D.I marked with a “W” on the fuselage is associated with Wortmann.

    Regardless, it is unknown which D.II Richthofen flew during which sortie. For decades there has been a source-based discrepancy regarding the serial number of his D.II, either 481/16 or 491/16. As far as the author can determine, the first use of 491/16 was in Nowarra and Brown’s 1958 Von Richthofen and the Flying Circus. Their source for this is uncredited. At the University of Texas Dallas, in Ed Ferko’s handwritten manuscript for his 1995 book Richthofen, the author found “491/16” listed as Richthofen’s Dell. However, in the published book Ferko lists the serial number as “481/16.” The source for both is uncredited, although many believe “481/16” merely was a typo for “491/16.” But, if so, could not “491” be a type for “492”?

    The only source the author can find (which he overlooked for his 2009 book Manfred von Richthofen: The Aircraft, Myths and Accomplishments of ‘The Red Baron’) is in Richthofen’s 15th combat report. In it, for the first time (at least in the translated reports), Richthofen identifies the airplane he flew during a sortie, in this case “Albatros D.481.” Be aware that this does not mean he always flew 481/16 and/or never flew 491/16. Furthermore, while Richthofen’s association with the overpainted/ white-striped Albatros D.II seems likely, it is unproven conjecture that airplane’s serial number was 481/16—or 491/16. Corroborating photographs and documents are still being sought.

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