"This is what I trained for, just me, my rifle, and a target."

Lieutenant Karl Fairburne is an American O.S.S. agent, as well as an elite sniper. He is the main protagonist of Sniper Elite, as well as the main playable character in all games in the series.

Early Life and Military Career[edit | edit source]

Very little is known about Karl's life prior to his military service. He was the son of an British American ambassador to Germany before the war broke out, and was raised in Berlin. He studied at West Point, shortly after America's entrance into World War II in December of 1941, where he became a qualified Sniper.

Karl's skill as a sniper was unmatched, and he became a great asset to the allies, during the Second World War. He was often sent as a solo infiltration unit, on some of the most top secret espionage missions during the second world War.

Karl has been charged with various objectives, including: Assassination, reconnaissance and intelligence gathering, sabotage, search and rescue, and the recruitment/elimination of Nazi scientists.

Karl's exploits made him a legend among soldiers, and were instrumental in the Allied victory in the Second World War.

North Africa[edit | edit source]

Karl Vs Panzer.jpg

In June 1942, Karl Fairburne was a volunteer sniper in the British Army defending Tobruk during the Battle of Gazala. Tobruk was lost but the British Naval Intelligence had noticed Karl's skills and recruited him as an agent to infiltrate the Axis-held oasis of Gaberoun to investigate the whereabouts of a British informant that was following the trail of General Franz Vahlen. The trail of orders found in the bodies of German and Italian officers hinted to a mysterious Project Seuche (literally meaning plague in German). Hitchhiking with the Long Range Desert Group (LRDG), Fairburne opens a path for them amid Flak 88 batteries in Halfaya Pass (called "Hellfire Pass" by the troops) in their search for the informant. As it happened, he had been compromised and captured before he could find out what Project Seuche was.

The LRDG dropped Karl in front of Fort Rifugio, where the informant was being held. The fort was previously held by the British during Operation Compass, so the layout of its outer and inner defences were available for study; therefore the fort, unassailable to an army, could be penetrated by a single man. Penetrating the outer defence manned by Italian troops, including Elites, Karl infiltrates the fort. Taking the cell key from the German commanding officer, Karl rescued Brauer, the informant. After dispatching a group of Italian paratroopers that arrived inconveniently after freeing the prisoner, Karl provided overwatch to Brauer amid a storm against waves of German and Italian troops trying stop the breakout. Information collected by Brauer led to the Siwa Oasis in Western Egypt.

"As usual, the Allies nip at our heels from the deep desert, but there is a new rumour, one of an allied sniper. Men say he's like the desert sand - he gets everywhere. Wüstengeist, they call him, the Desert Ghost. Some fear him more than they fear General Vahlen, myself among them."

- A German account found in Siwa.

Sneaking into the town, Karl finds out that three officers - "The Three Musketeers" - plan to betray Vahlen to Hitler by giving him the general's personal diary. They decide one of them is going to Berlin to deliver the diary personally to the Führer. Fairburne, identifying the holder of the diary by his wounded hand, kills the officer tasked as the courier and steals the notebook, which details Vahlen's plans to conquer Europe when the Afrika Korps wins in North Africa, with his base of operations somewhere in the Kasserine Pass.

Fairburne and Brauer infiltrate the base and discover from a secret movie reel that Project Seuche is a supertank codenamed Ratte. Tragically, Brauer is killed by a Tiger tank, and Fairburne destroys it in revenge. He buries Brauer and takes a round from Brauer's pistol. With the location of the Ratte production facility still unknown, Fairburne joins the LRDG in assaulting the German-controlled Pont du Fahs Airfield and finds a map leading to the facility, which is nestled inside the Mides canyon. He gets inside the complex and prepares satchel charges to collapse the base as well as destroy the Ratte prototype. To trigger the detonation, Fairburne puts an explosive on the Ratte's turret and drops a load of the supertank's massive shells on it. Vahlen is mortally injured trying to escape the hangar and Fairburne kills him with Brauer's pistol round before escaping the base.

It is revealed that the intelligence Fairburne acquired on the Ratte enables the USAAF and the RAF to launch the Battle of the Ruhr. The effect of Operation Chastise on steel production forces the Germans to scrap work on the Ratte.

Italy[edit | edit source]

Karl was sent to Italy in 1943, in order to help free the country from fascism and destroy a weapon that could prevent the rest of Europe fighting back against the Axis Powers. This weapon, as it turns out, is the Ms 300 "Razor", a further development of the already lethal Henschel Hs 293, a radio-guided anti-ship missile capable of sinking transports and warships with a single, well-placed hit. With the imminent Allied invasion of Italy, this new weapon could prove to be a threat against the Allied invasion fleet should it be deployed in sufficient numbers.

His first mission was scouting the island of San Celleni, which had a huge Luftwaffe presence in the region, and where several high-ranking German officers, including a German Luftwaffe General named Tobias Schmidt, were demonstrating the weapon. In addition, these same officers were also filming the demonstration in question, to be presented to Adolf Hitler. In the end, Fairburne killed all high-ranking officers present, including General Schmidt, as well as potentially destroying the cameras used in filming the demonstration.

His second mission, now with the help of OSS agent Jack Weaver and members of the Allagran Partisans, was looking for Sofia "The Angel" Di Rocco. After searching the Axis-occupied town of Bitanti, he found her and a handful of other partisans holding out in the castle.

His third mission, as a "test" by Sofia to see if the Allies are finally going to support the partisans' cause, has Karl destroy a German railway cannon that's being used to flush out the Partisans, with it already having killed dozens of civilians as well. In addition, SOE headquarters, and Weaver, with the help of a German informant named Dorfmann, task Karl with potentially destroying a prototype P-51 reconnaissance variant, recovering the footage from the plane, and possibly blowing up an ammunition depot in the area.

With the railway gun dealt with and the footage recovered, Weaver now tasks Karl with destroying German anti-aircraft defenses guarding the Regilino dockyard, setting of the 4th mission. Karl himself is tasked with investigating a German weapons stash due to the increased enemy activity in the area, which he suspects to be related to the German missile project. Lucio, one of the resistance leaders under Sofia, asks Karl to kill Laterza, a corrupt harbor master and Fascist collaborator, while Sofia herself asks Karl to locate medicine used to treat Typhus. Along the way, Karl discovers that the Sicilian Mafia has also been making attempts to stop the Italian Fascists and the Nazis from shipping weapons. In addition, it turns out that the weapons shipments were indeed related to the missile project, with the destination for the weapons being Allagra.

Keen on exploiting the Mafia's hatred for the Fascists and their Nazi allies, Weaver and Karl meetup with Italian mob boss Salvatore Dinelli. The affable Don agrees to help the Allied and partisan cause, in exchange for the OSS and SOE assassinating Piero Capo, a fanatical Italian fascist and leader of the local Black Brigade. Capo has been looting art from the nearby monastery, the setting of the 5th mission. In addition, a mafia informant tells Karl about the Germans holding a nearby hilltop castle that could hold back the Allies and cause significant casualties if they were to advance through the area

Germany[edit | edit source]

Karl SE2 Mittlewerk Factory.jpg

Fairburne is shipped off to Berlin in 1945, during the final days of World War II, as part of Operation Paperclip and its predecessor Operation Overcast, the plan by the USA to recruit the scientists of the V-2 Rocket program and to assassinate those trying to defect to the Soviet Union.

Fairburne was sent into Berlin to first assassinate German Major-General Hans von Eisenberg who was attempting to defect to the Soviets. Karl kills von Eisenberg at the Brandenburg Gate, when he meets with a Soviet contact to negotiate for the safe passage of his team. Karl escapes from the German forces to in order to continue with his hit list.

Karl decides to eliminate Doctor Gunther Kriedl next, knowing that he has the location of the V-2 production facility. Kriedl is being escorted out of the city in a convoy, with a guard detail. Karl learns the convoy route, and lays an ambush. Karl kills Kriedl and retrieves the location of the V-2 Production facility, and that the other targets will be there at a certain time. Karl decides to infiltrate the facility to eliminate the rest of the team and destroys the facility in one big explosion. Karl arrives and plants charges, but he finds the scientists absent, and intercepts a radio transmission that one of the members of the team, Dr. Schwaiger, had been caught making plans to defect to the West. Karl is spotted and engages the enemy before the charges explode, and uses the confusion to escape.

As the Soviets begin their attack on Berlin, Karl decides to halt their progress by destroying a bridge, and also cause the Soviets and Germans to engage each other so he can slip through before making his way to save Schwaiger from being executed by Nazi officers for his betrayal. However in the ensuing firefight, Schwaiger is mortally wounded and in his dying words states that "Wolff has a plan" and that someone or something called "Tabun" is involved. Following these events, Fairburne continues to track and eliminate the remaining scientists, assassinating Doctor Müller in his command tower during a series of bombing raids on the city.

With no location of the V-2 launching site, Fairburne infiltrates and searches the Soviet HQ. There, he finds documents revealing that "Tabun" is actually a nerve gas that is to be carried by the V-2 rockets. As a last act of revenge, the remaining scientist Doctor Wolff intends to launch them at London.

With only the information that the location is somewhere outside Berlin, Fairburne goes to Wolff's offices within the city to find more information. However by the time he arrives the office has been already destroyed, yet Fairburne is able to find a ripped notebook and learns that Wolff is about to escape from an airfield. Fairburne retrieves a map detailing V-2 storage facilities and sets out to destroy the rockets before they can be launched.

With only Wolff left, Fairburne goes back to Brandenburg Gate, where he had assassinated von Eisenberg a few days earlier. Fairburne climbs on top of the structure and, as Wolff is about to escape in a car, shoots and kills Wolff, causing the car to lose control and flip over. Fairburne remarks that World War II is over but the Cold War has just begun, in which he has acted as the first soldier.

Zombie Army Trilogy[edit | edit source]

Karl is the default playable character in Zombie Army Trilogy. He is a member of the Survivor Brigade, who are attempting to end the Apocalypse and Hitler's Nazi Zombie Army.

Karl is generally not used to working in a team, though given the circumstances he was willing to his new role in the team, quite possibly reluctantly.

His signature weapons are the Springfield M1903 and Kar98k.

Appearance and Attire[edit | edit source]

Karl is a Caucasian male with gray eyes and dark brown hair, which he keeps brushed back.

During his time in North Africa, he wore a yellow short sleeved shirt, and brown cargo pants, and brown combat boots. He also had a pair of goggles, presumably in case of a sand storm. Karl's hair is slightly shorter and he sports a small beard, and he has a tan.

During the Italian campaign, Karl wore a mix of olive drab, tan, green, and white coats, olive pants, and black boots. The last one was worn in snowy conditions, such as during the assault on Allagra Fortress and the discovery of the Deathstorm Project.

During the battle of Berlin, Karl wore an olive drab coat and pants and black boots. He wore the same clothes during the events of the Zombie Army Trilogy, though he had forearm guards and shoulder pads. and wore a yellow armband around his left bicep, like all other playable characters. He had a bloody bandage wrapped around his head. and wore black fingerless gloves. There was a large black container attatched to his belt, as well as having additional ammo pouches.

Several features always remain consistent with Karl's uniform. He always wears bandages wrapped around his hands in lieu of gloves, presumably, to grant more grip, yet maintain full dexterity. Karl always wears a scarf. He also wears spats, with a bandage around the one on his left leg. Karl wears a harness, to hold various pouches and a flask.

During the original Sniper Elite, Karl is disguised as a German sniper.

Personality[edit | edit source]

Karl is very stoic, even in the face of a full enemy assault, helping him excel at being a sniper. He is very quiet, most of his dialogue being delivered by inner monologue, and he barely speaks directly to other characters.

Karl is very dedicated to his missions and will eliminate anyone who stands in his way of completing his objective. However, he will disregard orders when he uncovers new information and change his objectives for the greater good. .

Karl is a bit of a loner, and does not seem very sociable. While in Africa he claimed that most of the soldiers were just young men rushing to their deaths, and rather callously remarked that most wouldn't survive. Though he wasn't without friendship, as he was willing to give Brauer a proper burial and leave an improvised grave after he was killed. He was also distraught when Sofia was killed by General Bohm during his assault on the Allagra Fortress. Karl also saved Dr Schwaiger, a defecting German scientist, from execution, but he was later shot and killed.

Skills and Abilities[edit | edit source]

Fairburne is an expert marksman and sharpshooter, making him an excellent sniper. Able to take out moving enemies, even if they are in a vehicle travelling at high speeds at great distances, and take on multiple enemy snipers single handed, ricochet bullets, and is accurate enough to detonate enemy grenades. Karl has great breath control, allowing him to steady his shots and to be more accurate. Karl will wait for extensive periods of time for an opportunity for a kill. He is also able to identify weak points on vehicles, so that he can disable, or destroy them.

German soldier Headshot Afrika.jpg

An expert in guerrilla warfare, Fairburne will take full advantage of his environment, laying traps to provide an ambush against large enemy forces, and will even booby trap bodies to kill unsuspecting soldiers when they move to examine them.

He is a master of stealth and espionage. Usually deployed as a solo unit, Fairburne travels behind enemy lines into occupied territory, enemy strongholds, and even active battle zones on his own to complete objectives. Though, specializing as a sniper, he is excellent in close quarters combat, able to silently take out enemies with either a knife or his bare hands.

Though he prefers a stealthy approach where possible, Fairburne is also capable in a firefight, able to use most weapons he finds in the field. He is able to hold his own against multiple enemy infantrymen, snipers, and even tanks. Fairburne has also been caught between rival factions fighting each other, and managed to survive the onslaught.

Karl close combat Italian Elite Folgore.jpg

Fairburne's exploits have earned him a reputation as an incredibly deadly operator, especially among enemy troops, who referred to him as "The Desert Ghost" (Wüstengeist) while he was in Africa. General Vahlen was even aware of his handiwork, claiming to be impressed, and called himself an 'admirer'. He stated that they were not so different, that they both are workers of war, and both enjoy their work. Fairburne claimed he was not like Vahlen, stating that he remembered everyone he killed. When he arrives in Italy his exploits in Africa have become the stuff of myths for the Nazis. A soldier said he heard Karl killed 2 soldiers with 1 bullet in Africa which his companion scoffed at believing the desert ghost was just propaganda by the allies. He also got a new name during his missions in Italy where Nazis called The Shadow. In Berlin, the Germans and Soviets called him the sniper.

Appearances[edit | edit source]

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • Karl is possibly named after William E. Fairbairn, A British soldier and police officer. He is notable for creating the self-defense style Defendu, and being one of the developers of the Fairbairn-Sykes Fighting Knife.
  • One of the reasons he was chosen to be an OSS agent was from his high up family status in the American government; this was a common way of citizens being hired to join the OSS, coming from high up status.
  • He was probably chosen for his later mission in Berlin due to his experience of the city and the German language.
  • In Sniper Elite V2, Karl only ever speaks directly to Dr Schwaiger, and never interacts with any of his targets, with most of his dialogue being the mission briefings.
  • In Sniper Elite III, Karl speaks directly with two characters: Brauer and Field Marshal Franz Vahlen, the former being a VIP he was tasked with locating, the latter his final target.
  • However in Sniper Elite 4 he now speaks to various characters before the beginning of most of the missions.
  • According to a collectable letter from the Coastal Facility in Sniper Elite 4, Karl may have British and German heritage. The letter states something along the lines of "Incomplete records suggest he was born to a British ambassador in Berlin."

Gallery[edit | edit source]

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