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Victory 34

Event ID: 181

03 April 1917

50.422628548475366, 2.78117655297983
Between Lens and Liévin

Source ID: 13

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

ISBN: 9781898697275

Combat Report: 1615 hrs, between Lens and Lieven. Vickers two-seater, NO. 6382. Motor unrecognisable. Occupants: Pilot: Lieutenant O’Beirne, killed. Observer: McDonald. Together with Leutnant Schäfer and Leutnant Lothar von Richthofen, I attacked three enemy planes. The plane I myself attacked was forced to land near Lieven. Afer a short fight the motor began to smoke and the observer ceased shooting. I followed adversary to the ground. Weather: storm and low clouds.

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

    1. In a letter written to O’Beirne’s mother, published in Gibbons’s The Red Knight of Germany, McDonald indicated Richthofen “…followed me right down to the ground, firing all the time, till he almost shot away every control I had.” This is consistent with Richthofen’s usual no-quarter modus operandi.

    2. Regarding O’Beirne’s fate, McDonald wrote,
    “Jack was firing over my top plane [wingl when suddenly a close burst from behind hit him right in the head and he dropped down in his seat. When…l…looked over to see how he was, I saw he was hit right through the side of the head, and death must have been instantaneous.”

    3. About his forced landing, McDonald wrote, “I made for a good-looking field, but, as luck would have it, beneath the long grass were barbed-wire entanglements, and with all my instruments shot away, I landed at a faster pace than I should have done and caught in the wire, going head over heels… Fortunately, the machine went right over the top of me when I was thrown out.” He then describes last seeing O’Beirne “laid out on the grass beside the wreckage of my machine…”

    4. Richthofen’s combat report described A6382’s engine as “unrecognizable.” It is not known if he was unfamiliar with the Rolls Royce or if this indicated the engine was badly damaged during the tumbling crash landing.

    5. The identity of Richthofen’s Albatros for this victory is elusive. Although Le Petit Rouge and 2006/16 are suggested, it could have been yet another machine.

    6. In his combat report, Richthofen misidentified the crew positions.

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