Monday, March 09, 2009
The duel between Hawker and von Richtofen is one of the classic encounters of WWI. The squadron of which Hawker was a member had attacked two German recon planes. Seeing more Germans above, the Leader elected to break off, but Hawker had spotted several more Germans below and dived to the attack. He ended up one-on-one with Manfred von Richtofen. They duked it out for for a very long time. One source said 35 minutes, which I find hard to believe; ten minutes being an eternity in dogfights. In any event, the two were well matched and neither could get the upper hand until Hawker, realizing that he was nearly out of fuel, made a break for his own lines. He was only 50 yards short when von Richtofen got the angle on him and killed him with two rounds, one striking him in the head. Ironically, only seconds later, von Richtofen's guns jammed.