History from the skies: parts from 'the two most famous planes ever' are for sale

Some exciting opportunities have come up for space memorabilia collectors as parts from two of the most famous planes of the 20th century - though with very different stories attached - come up for sale on the private markets.

Two wooden photograph cases made from one of the main spars of Baron Manfred Von Reichthofen's tri-plane after it was brought down in 1918 will be sold in the Antique Arms and Militaria at Bonhams Oxford on 7th December.

Baron Von Reichthofen, widely known as the Red Baron, was a German fighter pilot with the Imperial German Army Air Service (Luftstreitkräfte) during World War I. In 1917 Richthofen became a squadron commander and took the flamboyant step of having his Albatros plane painted red and from then always flew in red painted aircraft, receiving his nickname the 'Red Baron'.

Baron Manfred Von Richthofen WW1 German Fighter Ace
The Red Baron's photograph cases
(Click to enlarge)

To the frustration of the Allies, he was considered to be the ace-of-aces of the war and officially credited with 80 air combat victories, more than any other pilot. By 1918, Richthofen had become such a legend that it was feared that his death would be a blow to the morale of the German people.

However, in April 1918, Richthofen was shot down and killed near Amiens, France. A Canadian Captain Arthur Brown in the RAF was largely credited with shooting him down, although there is still an amount of uncertainty over who fired the bullet that would cause Richthofen's death.

His memorabilia remains a strong investment, especially in Germany where he is regarded as a war hero untainted by the horrors of the Third Reich.

The cases are expected to sell for a mere £400-600, reflecting the relatively minor part of Von Reichthofen's plane used. By contrast, a truly unique collectible is on offer from for collectors of his near contemporary Charles "Lucky Lindy" Lindbergh, the first man to fly solo across the Atlantic.

Parts from the Spirit of St Louis
Parts from the Spirit of St Louis

Lindbergh was catapulted to fame with his Orteig prize-winning solo non-stop flight from New York to Paris in 1927.A selection of historic parts of the plane used for Lindbergh's trans-Atlantic flight, the Spirit of St Louis, was saved by Lindbergh's trusted engineer, Kenneth Lane.

The collection includes two spark plugs which Lane believed had less than a year's worth left in them, a rocker arm from the Wright J5-C "Whirlwind" engine, and three shock absorber bungee cords. Click here for the full story.


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