Monday, April 21, 2008

Today In History: Vita brevis.

On this day in 1918, a young fighter pilot got a case of target fixation, swooping low over the enemy trenches to bag a kill that was making a break for it. Totally focussed on his prey, he was oblivious to the tracers arcing up from below and the Sopwith Camel on his tail.

He paid for his mistake with his life. His foes buried him with full military honors.

In less than two weeks, Manfred Freiherr von Richthofen would have celebrated his 26th birthday.


Anonymous said...

Can't resist this.
The Royal Guardsmen

Anonymous said...

You were saying just the other Day what you were doing when you were oh, 25?

Manfred was dead at 25, accomplished nothing in particular in life other than be an early master a very dangerous trade on fabulously unreliable equipment.

Made no improvements to the state of the art, didn't much pass on his skills.

He'll be famous after we're all dead.

Life ain't fair.

Chas S. Clifton said...

It was the Aussie machine gunner on the ground, not Captain Brown in the Sopwith, who got him.

MadRocketScientist said...

We were using tracers in 1918?

Anonymous said...

Well, now you've done it, Tamara. I'm either going to nod off shortly while watching "The Blue Max" for the umpteenth time or while re-reading some of Gene Curney's simplistic but enjoyable book on the Aces of the First World War.

Oh, that alarm's going to suck in the AM.


Anonymous said...

Yup, time to go reread "Wings out of Shadow" again.

Tam said...

One my favorite SF shorts EVAR!

Anonymous said...


According to Wiki (, "The British introduced a tracer version of the .303 cartridge in 1915[1]. The US introduced a 30-06 tracer in 1917[2]."

MadRocketScientist said...

I wasn't doubting her claim, I was just surprised. The thought of tracers in 1918 adds a bit more ... color to the battlefield in my minds eye.

Tam said...

Nah. They were black and white tracers. I've seen the newsreels.

MadRocketScientist said...'ll make Rainbow Brite cry!