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Who Killed the Red Baron?

Program Overview


Drawing of Red Baron's Plane NOVA explores the controversial death of the World War I fighter pilot Manfred von Richthofen, known as the Red Baron.

The program:

  • recounts the conventional version of the downing of the Red Baron by Canadian RAF pilot Captain Roy Brown.

  • reviews alternative theories and claims about who was responsible, including several Australian soldiers shooting from the ground.

  • relates the Red Baron's background, including his decision to become a pilot in 1915 and his subsequent appointment to lead a squadron two years later.

  • tells how the Red Baron gained his legendary nickname by painting his Albatros fighter bright red and explores why he became a wartime celebrity.

  • describes the development of military aviation during World War I, including the invention of a device that allows a machine gun to fire through the path of a propeller.

  • discusses the evolution of air-to-air combat tactics and the strategic organization of fighter plane squadrons.

  • details the final battle in which the Red Baron was killed.

  • examines ballistics, correspondence, and eyewitness accounts surrounding the shooting.

  • advances new evidence to confirm a leading theory for the Red Baron's death.

Taping Rights: Can be used up to one year after the program is taped off the air.

Teacher's Guide
Who Killed the Red Baron?

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