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The Red Baron was born Manfred von Richthofen. He earned the nickname, the Red Baron, during World War I because he flew a red plane and was the top rated fighter pilot during the war. The Red Baron was actually the nickname the British called him. He had other nicknames as well including "Le Petit Rouge" in France (which means "Little Red") and "Der Rote Kampfflieger" in Germany (which means "the Red Battle Flyer").In January of 1917, Manfred began to paint his plane red. Soon his squadron was painting part of their planes red as well. He became the commander of the Flying Circus, a group of the top fighter pilots in Germany. They moved about the western front and fought in key battles. Manfred became the top fighter pilot in World War I with 80 confirmed kills. He was shot down once in July of 1917, but survived and returned to battle later that year.Manfred became very famous on both sides of the war and was one of the top war heroes in Germany. The British called him the Red Baron and he is still most widely known by this name. The Allies wanted to shoot down the Red Baron in order to help break the morale of the German people.