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The Circus

From The Great War 1914-1918

The Circus or Richthofen's Circus: The name given colloquially in the Air Force in the war to any specially selected squadron which cruised from one point on the front to another whenever offensive air strength was required. "Richthofen's Circus," undoubtably the most widely known of all, comprised a group of German aeroplane squadrons, the scourge for months of the Western Front in 1917, led by the celebrated German airman, Baron von Richthofen. This "Circus" numbered from 15 to 20 machines per squadron and made a showy display, all the machines being painted glaring colours. Some had scarlet bodies, ringed yellow, blue and white; others, had green planes, or wings, and yellow noses; others, silver planes and gold noses; red bodies and green wings; blue bodies and red wings etc. Brilliant colouring was characteristic of German aeroplanes on all fronts. Richthofen led in a vivid vermilion-coloured plane. Voss and Wolff, leaders of other "Circuses," affected similar distinctive colours, the former usually leading in a conspicuous black and white chequered machine. [1]

References / notes

  1. Edward Fraser and John Gibbons (1925). Soldier and Sailor Words and Phrases. Routledge, London p.57.

Glossary of words and phrases

The above term is listed in our glossary of words and phrases of the Armed Forces of Great Britain during the Great War. Included are trench slang, service terms, expressions in everyday use, nicknames, the titles and origins of British and Commonwealth Regiments, and warfare in general. These words and phrases are contemporary to the war, which is reflected in the language used. They have been transcribed from three primary sources (see Contents). Feel free to expand upon and improve this content.
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