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Updated on March 3, 2014

Rudolph Berthold

Rudolph Berthold, Germany's 6th highest ace with 44 victories. Rudolf Berthold (March 24, 1891 - March 15, 1920) was a German World War I flying ace. Between 1916 and 1918 he shot down 44 enemy planes—most of them over the Belgium front. Berthold had the reputation as a ruthless, fearless and—above all—a very patriotic fighter. His perseverance and bravery made him one of the most famous German pilots ever.

Rudolf Berthold

Germany's Aces of World War I

Rudolf Berthold (March 24, 1891-March 15, 1920) was a German World War I flying ace. Between 1916 and 1918 he shot down 44 enemy planes-most of them over the Belgium front. Berthold had the reputation as a ruthless, fearless and-above all-a very patriotic fighter. His perseverance and bravery made him one of the most famous German pilots ever.

Like many other German pilots, Berthold started his career as an infantry soldier. In 1916 he switched to the German Luftstreitkräfte and became an observer on Halberstadt two seaters. Learning to fly and then switching to Fokker Eindeckers in 1916, Bethold was injured in the first of several crashes in his wartime career. In October 1916, he joined Jasta 14, serving until May the following year when he was wounded in combat with a RFC scout, suffering a fractured skull, broken nose, pelvis and thigh. In August he was given command of Jasta 18, although a bullet crippled his upper arm in October. He refused to retire and said: Better to die like a man than to live like a faggot.

Scene From Flyboys - Flyers of World War One

Rudolph Bertold

One of Germany's Aces of World War One

Despite being in pain from his unhealed injuries, Berthold continued flying. He refused any medical help because he was believed an operation would make it impossible for him to continue flying. Berthold didn't even have the bullet removed from his arm. In March 1918 he took command of Jagdgeschwader 2, transferring his Jasta 18 personnel into Jasta 15. His final wartime mishap came in August 1918, when he was shot down and crashed into a house and hospitalised until after the war. With JG 2, Berthold often flew a Pfalz D.III in preference to the Albatros D.V, until the summer of 1918 when the Fokker D.VII entered service. Berthold had a personal insignia of a winged sword on the side of the blue fuselages and red noses sported by all aircraft of Jasta 15.

After the war Berthold became a fanatic patriot and nationalist. Berthold was a member of the anti-communist Freikorps. He took part in several demonstrations and fought against communists. Berthold was shot in March 1920 in Harburg during a riot between communists and nationalists, after taking part in the failed Kapp Putsch. On his first gravestone {since destroyed} was allegedly the memorial: "Honored by his Enemys, killed by his Germen brethern"

End of All Hope - Flyboys

Flyboys Montage - Aces of World War One

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