The Red Baron

Written by Wayne Vansant
Review by B. J. Sedlock

While the phrase “The Red Baron” conjures up memories of a 1960s novelty song in people of a certain age, there is a serious story behind the pop culture reference. World War I ace Manfred von Richthofen is still, 100 years later, one of the most famous pilots of all time. Vansant tells his story in graphic novel form.

World War I technology was so limited, pilots could shoot off their own propellers if their guns were not calibrated properly. The life expectancy of British pilots was a mere 11 days. Despite that climate, Richthofen logged far more kills than any other pilot, mostly while fighting superior forces flying better planes. When his aircraft was finally shot down in 1918, he was so respected by both sides, his enemies buried him with full military honors.

Vietnam veteran Vansant’s clear drawings make it easy to tell one plane from another, and distinguish between different people in the story. He packs a lot of relevant information into the text boxes, and includes maps and other extras. This would be an excellent introduction to entice young people (and adults) who don’t know much about World War I aerial operations into reading further.