Who's Who - Lothar von Richthofen

Lothar von Richthofen Lothar Siegfried Freiherr von Richthofen (1894-1922) scored 40 victories as a high-scoring German air ace during the First World War.

Born on 27 September 1894 in Breslau - two years after his brother and the Great War's top-scoring fighter pilot, Manfred - Lothar was already a cavalry officer when war broke out in Europe in the summer of 1914.

The following year, 1915, he sought and received a transfer to the German Air Service.  He was assigned to observer duties in January 1916 and saw action during the Battle of Verdun.  Having next passed his pilot's examination he received an assignment to Jasta 11 in March 1917 - the squadron which also featured his already legendary older brother.

Undeterred by his brother's great fame - and thus by inevitable steep expectations - Lothar notched up a remarkable 24 victories in the space of 47 days, including top British ace Albert Ball in May 1917.  He was by nature somewhat more impulsive and aggressive than his cooler, more cautious brother.

Six days after bringing down Ball von Richthofen was himself badly wounded in an aerial dogfight against British R.E.2e.  He nevertheless recovered and was handed command of Jasta 11 in late September the same year.

In mid-March 1918 von Richthofen's aircraft was again badly mauled, this time by the Australian Geoffrey Hughes.  Crash landing his aircraft he was hospitalised - from where he learnt of his older brother's death, killed on 21 April 1918.  Lothar's tally of 'kills' at this point had reached 30.

Airborne once again by the summer - following five months absence - he resumed his winning ways, reaching a total of 40 victories, with his final victory coming on 12 August 1918.  The next day, 13 August, he suffered severe wounds once more, his Fokker D.VII aircraft brought down over the Somme region.  His war was over.

Following the armistice he worked for a while on a farm before taking an industrial position.  He married in June 1919 and had two children.  Yearning for aviation he accepted a position as a pilot, conveying passengers and postal mail between Berlin and Hamburg.

He died on 4 July 1922 in a flying accident at Fuhlsbuettel; he was aged just 27.

A Kite Balloon was an observation balloon controlled by a cable from the ground.

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