On the famous Baron Manfred von Richthofen, many books have been published. The first book on this pilot ace was already published as a biography in 1917 under the title “Der rote Kampfflieger”. A further reprint followed in 1920 under the title “Ein Heldenleben”. In total 526 000 copies of both books were printed.

When the Nazi’s took over control in Germany, the book was re-issued again in 1933 under its original title “Der rote Kampfflieger” with a foreword by Herman Göring in the usual bombastic Nazi-propaganda style. In total 600 000 copies were printed, clearly showing it was a very popular title in Germany. That implies that on the second-hand book market it still must be available.

Just have a look at Antoqbook under the book title and you’ll see it still can be purchased for a price ranging from 10 to a more expensive 100 EURO for a mint copy.

Manfred Von Richthofen [Collection- Terry Phillips]The original German title was also translated in other languages, including English. Even in the late sixties, Peter Kilduff published under the title “The Red Baron” a hardcover English version of the original German book. More important for historians is that Kilduff has expanded the original book with a few annexes on aircraft armament and aircraft types. Kilduff has also used some new photos that were not taken up in the original German version!
Also this book is still commonly available second-hand. A hard-cover will be priced around 10-15 EURO, but various paperback versions are also available for just a few EURO’s!

The well-known aviation publisher Heinz Nowarra published in 1958 together with K.S. Brown and Bruce Robertson the book “Von Richthofen and his flying Circus” in the famous Harleyford series. Even today this book must be regarded as the major reference book on von Richthofen. The book gives a wealth of text, rare photos and line drawings of all planes flown by von Richthofen. The book was a great success and it was reprinted several times.

Good copies are still available for some 15-35 EURO!

Of course more books have been published on the Red Baron, but these three are at least still readily available on the 2nd-hand market for an affordable price!

It is difficult to recommend ‘the best of these three’. I would simply say: if you are a von Richthofen enthusiast you should have all three! The book in German (in Gothic lettering!) must be regarded as an original source (‘Uhrquelle’ in German), but it is only meaningful to have if you master the German language. Kilduff’s book is an excellent alternative, in particular as a popular priced paperback for readers only mastering the English language.
And of course, Nowarra’s book is an absolute must if you want to have the in-depth history!

Book details:

Author: Manfred Freiherr von Richthofen
Title: Der rote Kampfflieger
Publisher: Ullstein Verlag -Berlin
Year published: 1933 (this edition)
Language: German
Details: Hardcover 13 x 20 cm, 224 pages with 22 photo illustrations
ISBN: Not available

Author: Peter Kilduff
Title: The Red Baron
Publisher: Bailey Brothers & Swinfen Ltd. Folkestone UK
Year published: 1974 (first published in 1969 by Stanley Ulanov)
Language; English
Details: Hardcover with dust-jacket, 14.5 x 21 cm, 224 pages with 44 photographs and 21 drawings
ISBN: 561 00206 1

Author: Heinz Nowarra, Kimbrough Brown and Bruce Robertson
Title: Von Richthofen and his flying Circus
Publisher: Harleyford Publications Ltd.m Letchworth, Herts UK
Year published: 1958 (this edition)
Language: English
Details: Hardcover with dust jacket (although these can be missing at 2nd hand books), 22 x 28.5 cm,
208 pages with 261 photos and 19 page-size drawings
ISBN: Not available; Library of Congress Card no. 58-H941

The reviewed books by Nowarra and Kilduff are from my collection and not for sale!  The German book ‘Der rote Kampfflieger’ is available for 30 EURO at the Aviodrome 2nd-hand bookshop at Lelystad airport, the Netherlands. It is a mint copy, only showing some library stamps and a spine with faded colours. If you are interested, please contact me.

Nico Braas