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Richthofen flew the celebrated Fokker Dr. I triplane from late July , the distinctive three-winged aircraft with which he is most commonly associated—although he did not use the type exclusively until after it was reissued with strengthened wings in November.
III Serial No. Richthofen championed the development of the Fokker D. VII with suggestions to overcome the deficiencies of the current German fighter aircraft.
Ernst Udet belonged to Richthofen's group and later became Generaloberst Udet. When Lothar joined, the German high command appreciated the propaganda value of two Richthofens fighting together to defeat the enemy in the air.
Richthofen took the flamboyant step of having his Albatros painted red when he became a squadron commander. His autobiography states, "For whatever reasons, one fine day I came upon the idea of having my crate painted glaring red.
The result was that absolutely everyone could not help but notice my red bird. In fact, my opponents also seemed to be not entirely unaware [of it]".
Other members of Jasta 11 soon took to painting parts of their aircraft red. Their official reason seems to have been to make their leader less conspicuous, to avoid having him singled out in a fight.
In practice, red colouration became a unit identification. Other units soon adopted their own squadron colours, and decoration of fighters became general throughout the Luftstreitkräfte.
The German high command permitted this practice in spite of obvious drawbacks from the point of view of intelligence , and German propaganda made much of it by referring to Richthofen as Der Rote Kampfflieger —"the Red Fighter Pilot.
Richthofen led his new unit to unparalleled success, peaking during " Bloody April " In that month alone, he shot down 22 British aircraft, including four in a single day,  raising his official tally to By June, he had become the commander of the first of the new larger "fighter wing" formations; these were highly mobile, combined tactical units that could move at short notice to different parts of the front as required.
Richthofen's new command, Jagdgeschwader 1 , was composed of fighter squadrons No. Richthofen was a brilliant tactician, building on Boelcke's tactics.
Unlike Boelcke, however, he led by example and force of will rather than by inspiration. He was often described as distant, unemotional, and rather humorless, though some colleagues contended otherwise.
If you are fighting a two-seater, get the observer first; until you have silenced the gun, don't bother about the pilot.
Although Richthofen was now performing the duties of a lieutenant colonel a wing commander in modern Royal Air Force terms , he was never promoted past the relatively junior rank of Rittmeister , equivalent to captain in the British army.
In the German army, it was not unusual for a wartime officer to hold a lower rank than his duties implied; German officers were promoted according to a schedule and not by battlefield promotion.
It was also the custom for a son not to hold a higher rank than his father, and Richthofen's father was a reserve major.
Richthofen sustained a serious head wound on 6 July , during combat near Wervik , Belgium against a formation of F.
The injury required multiple operations to remove bone splinters from the impact area. The Red Baron returned to active service against doctor's orders on 25 July,  but went on convalescent leave from 5 September to 23 October.
There is a theory linking this injury with his eventual death. Written on the instructions of the "Press and Intelligence" propaganda section of the Luftstreitkräfte Air Force , it shows evidence of having been heavily censored and edited.
Richthofen wrote: "My father discriminates between a sportsman and a butcher. The latter shoots for fun.
When I have shot down an Englishman, my hunting passion is satisfied for a quarter of a hour. Therefore I do not succeed in shooting down two Englishmen in succession.
If one of them comes down, I have the feeling of complete satisfaction. Only much later have I overcome my instinct and have become a butcher".
I believe that [the war] is not as the people at home imagine it, with a hurrah and a roar; it is very serious, very grim.
By , Richthofen had become such a legend that it was feared that his death would be a blow to the morale of the German people. German propaganda circulated various false rumours, including that the British had raised squadrons specially to hunt Richthofen and had offered large rewards and an automatic Victoria Cross to any Allied pilot who shot him down.
Wolfram von Richthofen. On seeing his cousin being attacked, Manfred flew to his rescue and fired on May, causing him to pull away.
Brown had to dive steeply at very high speed to intervene, and then had to climb steeply to avoid hitting the ground. It was almost certainly during this final stage in his pursuit of May that a single.
Each of these men later claimed to have been the first to reach the triplane, and each reported various versions of Richthofen's last words, generally including the word "kaputt".
His Fokker Dr. The document is a one-page, handwritten form in a registry book of deaths. It misspells Richthofen's name as "Richthoven" and simply states that he had "died 21 April , from wounds sustained in combat".
Controversy and contradictory hypotheses continue to surround the identity of the person who fired the shot that actually killed Richthofen.
The RAF credited Brown with shooting down the Red Baron, but it is now generally agreed that the bullet which hit Richthofen was fired from the ground.
Brown's attack was from behind and above, and from Richthofen's left. Even more conclusively, Richthofen could not have continued his pursuit of May for as long as he did up to two minutes had this wound come from Brown's guns.
Many sources have suggested that Sergeant Cedric Popkin was the person most likely to have killed Richthofen, including a article by Geoffrey Miller, a physician and historian of military medicine, and a edition of the British Channel 4 Secret History series.
Given the nature of Richthofen's wounds, Popkin was in a position to fire the fatal shot when the pilot passed him for a second time.
It stated Popkin's belief that he had fired the fatal shot as Richthofen flew straight at his position.
In this respect, Popkin was incorrect; the bullet which caused the Baron's death came from the side see above. A Discovery Channel documentary suggests that Gunner W.
Other sources have suggested that Gunner Robert Buie also of the 53rd Battery may have fired the fatal shot.
There is little support for this theory. This claim was quickly discounted and withdrawn, if only because of the time factor. Following an autopsy that he witnessed, Blake became a strong proponent of the view that an AA machine gunner had killed Richthofen.
Richthofen was a highly experienced and skilled fighter pilot—fully aware of the risk from ground fire. Further, he concurred with the rules of air fighting created by his late mentor Boelcke, who specifically advised pilots not to take unnecessary risks.
In this context, Richthofen's judgement during his last combat was clearly unsound in several respects.
In , a German medical researcher, Henning Allmers, published an article in the British medical journal The Lancet , suggesting it was likely that brain damage from the head wound Richthofen suffered in July played a part in the Red Baron's death.
This was supported by a paper by researchers at the University of Texas. Richthofen's behaviour after his injury was noted as consistent with brain-injured patients, and such an injury could account for his perceived lack of judgement on his final flight: flying too low over enemy territory and suffering target fixation.
Richthofen may have been suffering from cumulative combat stress , which made him fail to observe some of his usual precautions.
One of the leading British air aces, Major Edward "Mick" Mannock , was killed by ground fire on 26 July while crossing the lines at low level, an action he had always cautioned his younger pilots against.
One of the most popular of the French air aces, Georges Guynemer , went missing on 11 September , probably while attacking a two-seater without realizing several Fokkers were escorting it.
This was considerably faster than normal and he could easily have strayed over enemy lines without realizing it.
At the time of Richthofen's death, the front was in a highly fluid state, following the initial success of the German offensive of March—April This was part of Germany's last opportunity to win the war.
In the face of Allied air superiority, the German air service was having difficulty acquiring vital reconnaissance information, and could do little to prevent Allied squadrons from completing effective reconnaissance and close support of their armies.
In common with most Allied air officers, Major Blake, who was responsible for Richthofen's body, regarded the Red Baron with great respect, and he organised a full military funeral , to be conducted by the personnel of No.
The body was buried in the cemetery at the village of Bertangles , near Amiens , on 22 April Six of No. Allied squadrons stationed nearby presented memorial wreaths, one of which was inscribed with the words, "To Our Gallant and Worthy Foe".
A speculation that his opponents organised a flypast at his funeral, giving rise to the missing man formation ,  is most unlikely and totally unsupported by any contemporary evidence.
In the early s the French authorities created a military cemetery at Fricourt , in which a large number of German war dead, including Richthofen, were reinterred.
The grand-nephew of Frieda and Else, Dr. Hermann von Richthofen , was German Ambassador to the United Kingdom from —, where his name made him a media favorite.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Wilderness Press. Surname list. Categories : Surnames German noble families Richthofen family.
Hidden categories: All articles lacking reliable references Articles lacking reliable references from August Articles with short description All set index articles.
Namespaces Article Talk. Views Read Edit View history. The Cavalry was the most prestigious arm, and he applied to join the 4th Hussars which belonged to the 12th Cavalry Brigade of the Sixth Army Corps in Breslau.
He did not have much time to experience peacetime military service. In August the First World War began. They had been introduced by her brother Gunther.
Jutta was also of Silesian nobility, and had moved in the same circles. She had served as a nurse in the war. They lived in an apartment in Hanover while Wolfram restarted his academic career in Engineering.
During their marriage they rarely travelled abroad in the s. In the s they took skiing holidays in Switzerland. He was never found.
It formed part of the German Third Army which carried out the attack on France and Belgium in August as part of the long-prepared Schlieffen Plan.
The new combat environment of trench warfare greatly lessened the effectiveness of cavalry, so Richthofen's division was transferred to the Eastern Front , arriving in Poland in November.
On the Eastern Front, the Cavalry Division was mostly deployed in the south. It saw little fighting, as the German army did not use cavalry frequently, and the division was kept mainly in reserve.
Richthofen's brigade served near Pinsk in , and the division would spend late to January on defensive duties in the Pripet Marshes. This was never going to garner him the level of fame his cousins, Lothar and Manfred, were now achieving in the Luftstreitkräfte Imperial Air Service , and they personally encouraged him to transfer to the air service, which he finally did in June Before he joined the Air Service, Richthofen was given leave in Germany until he reported to the 14th Flying Replacement Regiment based at Halle, one of several large flight schools.
His training lasted three months, and he was assigned to the 11th Flying Replacement Battalion for advanced training in March On 4 April , Richthofen was assigned to Jagdgeschwader 1 , commanded by his cousin Manfred von Richthofen.
On 21 April, Wolfram flew his first mission. As he was a new pilot, Manfred instructed him to avoid the fighting. When the squadron became engaged in a dogfight, Wolfram climbed and circled above the fray.
Lieutenant Wilfred May also a new pilot was also circling above the dogfight. He attacked and pursued Richtofen.
On seeing his cousin being attacked, Manfred flew to his rescue and fired on May, causing him to pull away and saving Wolfram's life.
Richthofen pursued May across the Somme. It was in this pursuit that Manfred was killed in action. Wolfram continued flying and went on to claim eight aerial victories before the armistice ended the war on 11 November Richthofen studied aeronautical engineering from to at the Technical University of Hanover.
He served in Rome between and as an "informal" air attache, in violation of the disarmament clauses of the Versailles Treaty.
In Richthofen joined the Luftwaffe, which was commanded by his former commanding officer at JG 1, in , Hermann Göring.
By he was in charge of developing and testing new aircraft in the Technisches Amt , or Technical Service, under the overall direction of Ernst Udet.
They both came from aristocratic backgrounds, but Richthofen was a Silesian from Lower Silesia , a driven commander, and a good and hard working staff officer who enjoyed the company of engineers and like-minded men, while Göring was a Bavarian and a playboy who enjoyed talking about the First World War and his time as an ace and particularly enjoyed the trappings of power.
Göring preferred men like himself, and promoted them on that basis. He passed over the more highly qualified Richthofen in favour of Udet, a hard drinker and playboy, who like Göring had grown up in Bavaria , to head the Technisches Amt.
Richthofen's role was mainly concerned with aircraft procurement programs for the fledgling Luftwaffe.
In the event, only the He would make a real impact during the war. Richthofen was following a considerably difficult assignment, stemming from a directive issued to the Reichswehr before Adolf Hitler 's rise to power.
In July , the Reichswehr had been pursuing the Schnellbomber fast bomber concept. The need for modern and fast bombers was to meet the future vision of air warfare for bombers that were faster than fighter aircraft.
These concepts became even more important when Hitler seized power and issued demands for rapid rearmament. As the s progressed the He was refined, and the Dornier Do 17 Schnellbomber entered planning, production and service in — Even so, Göring was still interested in the heavy bomber program, which would give the Luftwaffe a firm strategic bombing capability.
Richthofen was dubious about the employment of heavy bombers, and wanted the projects developing types like the Dornier Do 19 cancelled.
Unfortunately for Richthofen, for the time being, the Luftwaffe ' s first Chief of the General Staff, Walter Wever , did believe in the heavy bomber program.
The development of what Wever called the " Ural bomber " designs continued. At the time, Göring and Wever also required a long-range fighter escort design for protecting the bombers over Britain and the Soviet Union , Germany's expected enemies.
Richthofen joined Wever in moderating some of the design requests of Göring, who insisted on a fast, fighter, bomber, ground attack and reconnaissance aircraft rolled into one design.
However, Richthofen used his position to split the specification into separate designs on 22 January , viewing the request as impossible.
Wever was killed in an air accident in June , and the emphasis shifted back to more economical in manpower and material terms medium bombers.
After Wever's death, Göring and Ernst Udet became more active in the development programs. Udet favoured the close support designs, such as the Junkers Ju 87 Stuka dive bomber, while Göring favoured having more medium bombers rather than a small number of heavy bombers.
Richthofen did not get along with Udet, and did not believe in his ideas about dive bombing. Udet, much like Göring, favoured combining the qualities of aircraft.
Udet sought out a design that could dog fight, dive bomb and carry out level bombing, much like Göring had requested.
This was at odds with Richthofen's fundamental desire for aircraft that were easy to mass-produce and designed for, and to excel at, specialised tasks.
Although Richthofen had managed to prevent aircraft design from heading into mediocrity, and had kept them specialised for particular tasks, Udet still influenced the selection of the multi-purpose Messerschmitt Bf and the Schnellbomber fast bomber designed Junkers Ju 88 by the end of With the Ju 88, he insisted it should have a dive bombing capability, although it was more suited to, and ideal for, the level bombing Schnellbomber concept.
With an expanding Luftwaffe and a civil war starting in Spain , an opportunity came for a field command. Udet continued with the dive bomber concept and the Ju 87 first saw action under Richthofen's command in Spain.
Wolfram retained his position as Head of Development, but he was now tasked with the evaluation of aircraft under operational conditions.
Richthofen's experiences were to serve the Luftwaffe well in the long-term and he was leading proponent of army support aviation at this time.
The most important issues concerned tactical and operational level warfare. The Germans put a great deal of effort into developing close air support doctrine in the late s.
He pushed Flak units into the frontline to bolster the artillery units. Soon this tactic became part of Luftwaffe doctrine.
Another tactical consideration led to operational innovation. Richthofen adopted the shuttle air tactic.
In order to maximise support over the frontline, aircraft operated from bases near the front to keep and gain an advantage. It was very successful in the battles.
Aircraft were sent in small formations to bomb frontline positions, while other groups of ground attack aircraft were en route and refuelling.
This way a constant air presence was maintained over the battlefield which eroded the effectiveness and morale of the enemy. This required a large number of personnel to set up and man forward airfields.
At the operational level, the Luftwaffe ' s logistics units had to be completely motorised to bring in fuel, ammunition and spare parts.
These units had the opportunity to be tested under tough operational conditions. By , the Luftwaffe would have the largest, and most capable transport service in the World.
Richthofen employed these learned tactics and operational methods during the Battle of Bilbao. The motorised logistics also helped during the rapid redeployment to the south, after the surprise Republican offensive at Brunete in July The air support was vital in defeating the offensive, which was supported by modern aircraft sent to the Republicans from the Soviet Union.
German types like the Messerschmitt Bf fighter, which replaced the Heinkel He 51 , the Do 17 and He helped win and hold air superiority and interdict the battlefield.
The Republicans had spent most of their gold reserves on buying Soviet equipment. With most of that equipment used up, the Condor Legion and Nationalists gained the technological edge.
The Spanish experience began a late surge in interest of close support aircraft in Luftwaffe. In the first years of the Nazi state these types remained a low-priority for air planners who shaped the embryonic Luftwaffe.
German air doctrine remained rooted in the fundamentals of Operativer Luftkrieg Operational Air War which stressed interdiction , Strategic bombing when and if possible but primarily the air supremacy mission.
Even factored into the army support groups, only fifteen percent of Luftwaffe front-line strength contained specialist ground-attack aircraft in September The most difficult aspect of close support was communication.
Air-ground liaison officers had been used since , when the Luftwaffe first set up a training program for this purpose.
By , precise procedures had yet to be worked through for air to ground coordination. Aircraft could not communicate with the frontline. Instead, they could communicate via radio with each other and their home base.
One of the first innovations was to prepare signals staff on the frontline in the region of any planned air strikes, and equip them with telephones.
The forward officers could telephone the base with updates, who in turn could radio the aircraft. It became an important standard operational practice.
Liaison officers were attached to the Nationalist Army, and improved coordination continued in the second half of despite occasional friendly-fire incidents.
In the Second World War, the Luftwaffe air units and liaison officers at the front could communicate directly with updated radios.
The Luftwaffe entered the Second World War with high standards of training. Although other air forces also had training programs and pilots equal to the Germans, the Luftwaffe emphasised training its large units, the Geschwader Wings , Corps and Luftflotten Air Fleet staffs in large-scale manoeuvres with the army in the pre-war years.
War games and communication exercises in a different variety of combat operations allowed the officers to familiarise themselves with mobile warfare, and this produced proficient doctrine and better prepared operational methods than most of its opponents.
With notable exceptions, such as RAF Fighter Command , most of the Allied air forces did not conduct large-scale unit and staff exercises, testing tactics and doctrine.
Given the slight numerical and technological advantage of the Luftwaffe over its enemies in —, its success during these years can largely be attributed to extensive officer and staff training programs along with the experiences of the Condor Legion in Spain.
Richthofen and Sperrle made an effective team in Spain. Sperrle was an experienced officer and was intelligent with a good reputation.
Richthofen was considered a good leader in combat. They combined to advise and oppose Franco on a number of topics to prevent the misuse of air power and debates were heated.
Both Germans men were blunt with the Spanish leader and although the Germans and Spanish did not like each other, they had a healthy respect which translated into an effective working relationship.
Richthofen even learned a little Spanish and Italian, an effort appreciated by the Nationalist officers.
Hellmuth Volkmann assumed his place, but his pessimistic reports to Berlin, his continued demands for support and resources, and his personal disagreements with Richthofen forced his replacement in October Richthofen was promoted to the rank of Generalmajor on 1 November and he oversaw the final stages of the civil war in early By this time, his belief in the Junkers Ju 87 Stuka was cemented.
It had proved highly successful in its limited role and Richthofens's fear of excessive losses in low-level ground attack operations proved ill-founded.
Soon afterwards, and even in modern-day studies, historians referred to it as a deliberate act of terror bombing designed to break civilian morale.
At least the 18th Loyola and Saseta battalions were stationed in the city at the time making it a legitimate target. The destruction of the road and train lines around Guernica, as well as the bridges, denied the Republicans an escape route as well as the only way to evacuate heavy equipment.
Another mitigating factor was the "poor accuracy" of German bomb sights in early In the event, from a purely military perspective, it was a success, closing the city to traffic for 24 hours.
Richthofen regarded it a "technical success", but was disappointed the Nationalists did not follow it up quickly, missing a chance to cut off large portions of the enemy forces.
Richthofen commanded Fliegerführer z. This unit was a tactical formation and was attached to 2nd Fliegerdivision , under the joint command of Bruno Loerzer and Alexander Löhr.
The operational goal of Fliegerführer z. Richthofen's order of battle included a powerful concentration of strike aircraft.
The formation had its headquarters at Birkental-Oppeln, but its units were spread out. Schlosswalden was home to 1.
Along with other units, Richthofen's I. Only eight days into the campaign, on 8 September, the Tenth Army had advanced so far into Poland, that Richthofen was obliged to move Günter Schwartzkopff , his most experienced dive-bomber exponent, into Polish airfields, while Reichenau closed in on Warsaw.
At the end of the first week of September, Richthofen's battle group was transferred to Luftflotte 4 Air Fleet 4. The fast moving frontline caused army headquarters to lose touch with its forward units.
The collapse of communications deprived commanders and squadrons of orders, a situation exacerbated by the lack of a common radio frequency and by over-stretched logistics, which also forced them to scavenge enemy supply depots.
Richthofen was the most affected. As early as 3 September, he noted in his diary that the army headquarters had ceased to know where the frontline was, and he refused to respond to army requests for air support.
Instead, he responded according to his own interpretation of the situation. This method did cause friendly fire incidents.
On one occasion, Ju 87s knocked out a bridge across the Vistula river when a Panzer Division was about to cross.
The air-ground coordination was the responsibility of Kolufts , who synthesised data from their own aerial reconnaissance and forward units, but they were only advisers and had little experience in air warfare.
They were controlled by the army staffs Nahaufklarungsstaffeln and depended on the Luftwaffe's Air Liaison Officer Fliegerverbindungsstaffeln or Flivo for fighter or bomber support.
However, Flivo units were responsible to the Luftwaffe, not the army, and their role was to keep air commanders informed of the situation through the use of radio-equipped vehicles.
Because he was impetuous and wanted to be in the thick of the action, Richthofen began flying around over the frontline in a Fieseler Fi Storch , as air-ground liaison collapsed.
His claims were not always believed, and these personal operations were a waste of time and needlessly exposed him to danger.
While the operational situation was not good, Löhr took command of Fliegerführer z. By 11 September, the fuel situation was acute, and logistics failed.
On the first day his units were flying three missions every day, now it was reduced to one per day. Despite the problems, by 8 September Richthofen was preparing an assault on Warsaw.
The raids had barely begun when a major threat developed behind him. A Polish counter offensive engaged the German Eighth Army , in an attempt to reach the Vistula river.
Richthofen joined the assault and counterattack from the air. For three days the Germans bombed Polish forces contributing to the success in the Battle of Radom and Battle of the Bzura.
Polish forces sought refuge in the forests nearby but were smoked out by incendiaries. Richthofen's men flew sorties and dropped tons of bombs.
The air action destroyed remaining resistance, allowing the army to defeat the remaining Polish forces. The remaining threat from Polish forces generated calls for attacks on Warsaw.
Air attacks against the city had been planned for the first day, codenamed Wasserkante , or Operation Seaside. Richthofen's airmen flew to sorties, dropping equal quantities of high explosives and incendiaries.
Some bombs fell close to German forces conducting the Siege of Warsaw and smoke made it impossible to assess damage.
Richthofen confronted Hermann Göring over the need for a united air command for the Warsaw campaign and hinted he was the man for the job.
He did not get his way until 21 September. Weather delayed the attack , which began on 22 September.
Leaflets demanding the city's surrender had been dropped on four days earlier, but Richthofen began acting on his own initiative, using Luftwaffe Directive 18, dated 21 September, which gave him responsibility for the conduct of air operations.
Richthofen did not get the aircraft he wanted for the operation, in particular the Heinkel He , and instead was handed old Junkers Ju 52 transports which delivered bombs by airmen throwing them out of the doors.
On 22 September, Richthofen's command flew sorties. German air units dropped tonnes of high explosive and 72 tonnes of incendiaries.
The bombing did great damage, causing 40, casualties and destroying one in ten of the buildings in the city, while only two Ju 87s and one Ju 52 were lost.
The army complained of near friendly fire incidents while fighting through the city and smoke made life difficult for the German artillery spotters.
Hitler, despite the complaints, ordered the bombing to continue. Richthofen's force also flew sorties against Modlin Fortress , securing the town's surrender on 27 September after tonnes of bombs had been dropped on it in two days.
Warsaw surrendered soon afterwards, and the campaign was declared over after the Polish surrender on 6 October Originally, Richthofen's force had retained its original name, Fliegerfuhrer zbV , after its transfer from Poland, but on 1 October it was renamed Fliegerdivision 8 Flying Division 8 , and some days later it was given Corps status.
Fliegerkorps 8th Flying Corps. Most of the Geschwader involved were based at Cologne and Düsseldorf. The Corps was a purpose-built ground attack organisation.
Sturzkampfgeschwader 76 StG The task of Richthofen varied. During the Phoney War period, he established his headquarters at Koblenz on 18 October , and thereafter his Corps steadily rose in strength, from 46 Staffeln Squadrons , 27 of them Ju 87 units, to 59 by the end of the month.
In December, he was first assigned to support Reichenau. Attacks on enemy air bases were only to be carried out if Allied air power attempted to interdict the German ground forces.
Ground support was the first priority. Fliegerkorps V had the primary counter-air role and was positioned close to the front to provide air superiority support.
When a breakthrough took place, it was ordered to exchange airfields with Fliegerkorps VIII, to allow for effective air support to the army.
However, the Corps' war diary and Richthofen's personal diary make no mention of this order, which may indicate a breakdown in staff work at some level.
Operationally, the air division and corps headquarters were placed alongside, and moved with, army equivalents. The air liaison teams attached to the corps and Panzer Divisions were directed to report the battle situation at the front, but were forbidden to advise the army, or request air support.
The army sent separate reports, under the same conditions. The reports were digested by Kleist and Richthofen's chiefs of staff, and action was or was not taken with mutual agreement.
Attack orders could be delivered in minutes to air units. A Gruppe Group of Ju 87s and Bf s was ready in reserve to respond, and could do so within 45 to 70 minutes.
Richthofen knew Reichenau, and they had a close working relationship. During the planning for the Sixth Army's operations, Reichenau seemed to display a lack of interest when the subject turned to the capture of the bridges at Maastricht , in the Netherlands, and Fort Eben-Emael in Belgium.
So unenthusiastic was Reichenau about the suggested airborne operation by glider troops against the fort, that he refused to allow the diversion of any army artillery.
Richthofen supplied a Flak battalion, Flakgruppe Aldinger , for the task of supporting them. Richthofen found himself under pressure in other sectors on 10 May, the first day of the offensive.
In the early phase of the Battle of the Netherlands , the Fallschirmjäger paratrooper forces had been tasked with capturing The Hague and the Dutch Royal Family.
In the subsequent Battle for The Hague , German forces met heavy resistance. Richthofen was ordered to throw in half of his force in the Hague battle and to attack the Scheldt estuary, near Antwerp , the Dutch border, to stop the French before they positioned themselves near the Moerdijk bridgehead.
Despite thick cloud, German aircraft helped drive them back. Just 12 Ju 87s were lost, anti-aircraft fire accounted for six I.
Army units carried flares and Swastika flags to prevent friendly fire incidents. For the cost of twelve aircraft four Ju 87s , he helped attack French communication and supply positions, and supported Reichenau as he reached the Dyle river.
At that time, he had moved into the Netherlands, at a Hotel, near Maastricht. He had a basic room, with a bath that did not work. Richthofen was incredulous, and he had to move his entire infrastructure kilometres to the south.
The failure of the OKL to inform him he was to support the breakthrough is difficult to explain. His forces were split between support for the advance in Belgium, while most were moved south.
During the winding down of operations in the north, his units did help the Sixth Army capture Liege in Belgium on 17 May.
The most notable actions of his Corps took place during the Battle of Sedan. By this time, Richthofen had moved into St.
Trond -Liege in Belgium. The heavy German air assaults on French positions included by his medium bombers, although his Ju 87 units could only fly 90 owing to the difficulties he had moving his Corps around.
Allied bomber strength was decimated. Richthofen convinced Göring to help press for the Panzers to continue, while his air Corps provided an aerial flank.
This effectively destroyed French Ninth Army. Radio equipped forward liaison officers could call upon the Stukas and direct them to attack enemy positions along the axis of advance.
In some cases the Luftwaffe responded to requests in 10—20 minutes. Oberstleutnant Hans Seidemann Richthofen's Chief of Staff said that "never again was such a smoothly functioning system for discussing and planning joint operations achieved".
Richthofen moved his HQ to Ochamps to keep up with events, while he gambled on German air superiority holding out to fill forward airfields up with aircraft leading to overcrowding.
He also had communication difficulties, and flew around in his Storch to organise air support for the army.
The pressures compelled him to risk being shot down in order to pass on orders, and while flying on 22 May he was forced to land owing to a fractured fuel tank.
He organised support for Reinhardt and covered Heinz Guderian 's Corps. While he complained about communication, by the standards of the day, it was efficient.
The radio-equipped forward liaison officers assigned Fliegerkorps VIII new targets, while leaving less important orders to land line officers.
The Ju 87s were on minute alert, and within 45 to 75 minutes they were diving onto their targets. In some cases, they were able to respond in 10 minutes.
By 21 May the Allied armies were encircled and counterattacks had been repulsed at Arras. The Allies were evacuating the ports of Dunkirk and Calais.
He regarded them as a waste of time, and they disrupted preparations against southern France Case Red.
He believed the attempt to destroy Allied forces, or prevent the evacuation with the Luftwaffe was unrealistic.
On 26 May, Richthofen made a special effort to gain and hold air superiority. Overall, German air power failed to prevent the evacuation.
The French lost their most capable formations in the encirclement, and they capitulated on 22 June , after the capture of Paris on 14th, and the encirclement of the Maginot Line on 15 June.
Fliegerkorps during the Battle of Britain. The British refusal to reach a compromise with Germany forced the OKL to prepare a plan for attaining air superiority, codenamed Operation Eagle Attack.
Should this have been successful, the Wehrmacht may have launched an invasion of Britain, codenamed Operation Sea Lion. For the first time, the Luftwaffe was engaged in an offensive air war without the support of the German Army.
Despite Richthofen's Corps being primarily a specialist ground assault organisation, which supported ground forces, he was expected to help lead the assault over Britain.
In June , Richthofen and his Corps' specific mission was to establish air superiority over the southern part of the English Channel near France and to clear British shipping from the strip of sea altogether, particularly from the region between Portsmouth and Portland.
Fliegerkorps VIII had a particular advantage; British fighters did not have enough radar warning and were operating at the limits of their range.
This gave his Ju 87s a near-free hand in operations. The initial battles revolved around the British southern coast.
Attempts by German air fleets to interdict British shipping in the English Channel were met with a significant response from the RAF, and many air battles ensued over the Channel.
They were referred to by the Germans as Kanalkampf "the Channel battles". Richthofen made use of his Do 17P reconnaissance aircraft to locate convoys.
When located, he usually dispatched a Gruppe 30 aircraft to engage the convoy, holding other Stuka Gruppen back for repeat attacks.
The campaign was complicated by the weather, which grounded the Corps for long periods, and while the Ju 87s proved effective, they proved vulnerable to RAF fighters.
Operations over the Channel were successful. Although Richthofen's force severely over-claimed the number of ships sunk, they did succeed in forcing the Royal Navy to suspend convoys through the Channel temporarily, as well as forcing it to abandon Dover as a base.
On 8 August , during one of the last operations against shipping, his airmen claimed 48, tons of shipping sunk in one operation.
The actual number was just 3, tons.