As a fighter pilot, Manfred had found his calling. The one-time lacklustre cadet had developed into an effective combat leader and gained appropriate recognition. He was even promoted ahead of the class of officers with whom he had been commissioned and had the special pleasure of watching his brother’s career advance.
On 26 March Manfred, here wearing the newly earned rank insignia of an Oberleutnant (First Lieutenant), wrote home:
‘Yesterday I shot down [my] 31st, the day before the 30th. Three days ago I was promoted to Oberleutnant by order of the Royal Cabinet of Ministers. I have therefore gained a good half-year’s seniority. My Staffel is doing well … Yesterday, Lothar had his first aerial combat. He was very satisfied because he hit his adversary. We say that [the victim] “stank”, because he left behind him a ribbon of black smoke. Of course, he did not crash, as that would have been too much luck for the first time. Lothar is very conscientious and he will do well.’
Manfred did not remain an Oberleutnant for long; fifteen days later he was promoted to Rittmeister (Cavalry Captain) a considerable achievement for a 24-year-old officer.