Baron Manfred von Richthofen May 2, —April 21, , also known as the Red Baron, was only involved in World War I's air war for 18 months—but seated in his blazing red Fokker DR-1 tri-plane he shot down 80 planes in that time, an extraordinary feat considering that most fighter pilots achieved a handful of victories before being shot down themselves. Freiherr is equivalent to Baron in English. Manfred had one sister Ilsa and two younger brothers Lothar and Karl Bolko. In , the family moved to a villa in the nearby town of Schweidnitz, where Manfred learned the passion of the hunt from his big-game-hunter uncle Alexander.
General Foch is reported to have said that "aviation is a good sport, but for the army it is useless". This reflected a widely held scepticism about aircraft, which is not surprising considering how frail and unreliable they were in The military did, however, see some value in taking advantage of the aircraft's height for an improved view of the battle-field. They were influenced in this, perhaps, by the successful use in earlier conflicts of tethered lighter-than-air balloons , such as those used in the American civil war. The airplane, they felt, could augment and enhance the balloons - an airplane could see things on the far side of a hill that even a balloon could not - but they still felt that the most important tool for reconnaissance would be the cavalry. Within the first months of the war - even before trench warfare completely sidelined the cavalry - the value of aerial reconnaissance proved itself. General John French acknowledged that without the timely information provided by the RFC, Von Kluck's army would have succeeded in encircling his forces at Mons.
In the years leading up to World War One, military aviation was sponsored by powerful people in government and business, and by both France and Germany had military air branches with a focus on reconnaissance and bombing. During the war, the belligerents quickly took to the air to gain an advantage. Pilots were initially sent up on missions to photograph enemy bases and troop movements so war strategists could plan their next moves, but as pilots began shooting at one another, the idea of aerial combat emerged as a new means of warfare that would someday evolve into the drone-strike technology we have today.
They formed two opposing military alliances, the Allies and the Axis. It was the most widespread war in history, and directly involved more than million people from over 30 countries. In a state of total war, the major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, erasing the distinction between civilian and military resources. Before the war, there were a few events that occurred.
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