Finnish and German Aces of WWII

This blog is dedicated to the Finnish and German pilots of the Winter/Continuation War and the Second World War.
It is a blog ran by a Lady of Finnish, German and Swedish heritage and a Gentleman of German and English heritage. The idea was to spread information on the Finnish Winter & Continuation War, as we both felt people were in the dark and that war is almost overlooked if not ignored.
We also want to spread the word about the German Aces of the Luftwaffe as there was many men of chivalry among the ranks of that branch of arms in the Third Reich. I want to make sure this is clear and understood, we are not here to Glorify that regimes crimes against humanity, nor do we hold racial beliefs. I would like to say in closing if you have any questions or information, please feel free to ask and or share. I thank you for taking a look and enjoy yourself as you see History take flight.

Lieutenant-General Günther Rall
The son of a merchant, Günther Rall was born in Gaggenau on 10 March, 1918. He entered military service as an Fähnrich in the Army in 1936. The following year, he entered the War Collage at Dresden where he was influenced to transfer to the Luftwaffe. He qualified as a fighter pilot in 1938, and was sent to JG 52 which at the time was based near Stuttgart. He saw his first combat during the Battle of France, and it was during this particular campaign that he began his personal victory score when on 18 May he shot down a Curtiss Hawk 75A from GC II/5, piloted by Czech pilot Sgt.Chef Otto Hanzlicek (which saved his live with chute). Shortly afterward, his unit was transfered to Calais to take part in the Battle of Britain. Shortly after beginning operations, he was given command of 8./JG 52 on 25th July and on 1st August he was promoted to Oberleutnant. By October, though, the Staffel had been withdrawn from combat operations in order to rebuild the losses suffered. After being brought back up to strength, the unit was sent to Rumania to defend the oil refinaries and bridges over the Danube during the German occupation of that country in the spring of 1941. In late May 8./JG 52 took part in Operation Merkur, the airborne assault on Crete, providing support for the German parachute and mountain troops. By this time Germany and the Soviet Union were at war and so once the Creten operation was over 8./JG 52 was hurried back to Rumania, where Russian bombers were attacking the refinaries. In five days Rall and his men destroyed some 50 Soviet bombers and were next sent to the southern sector of the Eastern Front. Here, however, Rall suffered a severe setback - after destroying his 36th enemy aircraft he himself was shot down by an I-16 and in the resulting belly-landing in a gully he broke his back in three places. He was paralyzed for a long time on the right side and the right leg. It was not until August 1942 that he was back in action, but in the first three months after returning to oparational duty he raised his score to over 100 victories, being awarded by Hitler on November 26th the Oak Leaves. In April of 1943 he was promoted to Hauptmann and given command of III./JG 52 on 6th July. He scored his 200th victory on 29th August 1943 during his 555th mission, and on 12th September 1943, the Führer awarded him the Swords to his Knight’s Cross. In October 1943 alone, he downed over 40 Soviet planes.
Knight’s Cross holders of JG 52 during a mission break in late 1942 in front of Rall`s Bf 109 G-2 “Black 13”. From left: Uffz. Karl Gratz (138 victories, RK), Oblt. Günther Rall and Uffz. Friedrich Wachowiak (about 120 v. RK).       In the spring (19th April) of 1944 Rall took over command as the Gruppenkommadeur of II./JG 11 which was at the time on Home Defense (Reichsverteidigung) duties against the 8th Air Force. On 12th May while flying Bf 109 G-5 “Schwarz « +”, W.Nr.110 089, of Stab II./JG 11, he nearly succeeded in downing the commander of the famed 56th FG, Lt Col Hubert Zemke (17 3/4 v., POW 30/10/44), and did succeed in destroying two Thunderbolts of this unit. However, he himself was attacked by another pair of P-47s from this same unit and was shot down and forced to bail out over Frankfurt / Main, in the process having his left thumb shot off. In the operating room he suffered a severe infection that kept him hospitalized until November. His last command was JG 300 oparting out of Salzburg from 20th February 1945 until the end of the war. There he was taken prisoner by the Americans at the end of the war. He flew a total of 621 missions, and was shot down no less than 8 times, being wounded 3 times during which he shot down a total of 275 enemy aircraft, including 3 on the Western Front to become the third highest scoring fighter pilot in history.

Lieutenant-General Günther Rall

The son of a merchant, Günther Rall was born in Gaggenau on 10 March, 1918. He entered military service as an Fähnrich in the Army in 1936. The following year, he entered the War Collage at Dresden where he was influenced to transfer to the Luftwaffe. He qualified as a fighter pilot in 1938, and was sent to JG 52 which at the time was based near Stuttgart. He saw his first combat during the Battle of France, and it was during this particular campaign that he began his personal victory score when on 18 May he shot down a Curtiss Hawk 75A from GC II/5, piloted by Czech pilot Sgt.Chef Otto Hanzlicek (which saved his live with chute). Shortly afterward, his unit was transfered to Calais to take part in the Battle of Britain. Shortly after beginning operations, he was given command of 8./JG 52 on 25th July and on 1st August he was promoted to Oberleutnant. By October, though, the Staffel had been withdrawn from combat operations in order to rebuild the losses suffered. After being brought back up to strength, the unit was sent to Rumania to defend the oil refinaries and bridges over the Danube during the German occupation of that country in the spring of 1941. In late May 8./JG 52 took part in Operation Merkur, the airborne assault on Crete, providing support for the German parachute and mountain troops. By this time Germany and the Soviet Union were at war and so once the Creten operation was over 8./JG 52 was hurried back to Rumania, where Russian bombers were attacking the refinaries. In five days Rall and his men destroyed some 50 Soviet bombers and were next sent to the southern sector of the Eastern Front. Here, however, Rall suffered a severe setback - after destroying his 36th enemy aircraft he himself was shot down by an I-16 and in the resulting belly-landing in a gully he broke his back in three places. He was paralyzed for a long time on the right side and the right leg. It was not until August 1942 that he was back in action, but in the first three months after returning to oparational duty he raised his score to over 100 victories, being awarded by Hitler on November 26th the Oak Leaves. In April of 1943 he was promoted to Hauptmann and given command of III./JG 52 on 6th July. He scored his 200th victory on 29th August 1943 during his 555th mission, and on 12th September 1943, the Führer awarded him the Swords to his Knight’s Cross. In October 1943 alone, he downed over 40 Soviet planes.

From left: Karl Gratz, Günther Rall and Friedrich Wachowiak.

Knight’s Cross holders of JG 52 during a mission break in late 1942 in front of Rall`s Bf 109 G-2 “Black 13”. From left: Uffz. Karl Gratz (138 victories, RK), Oblt. Günther Rall and Uffz. Friedrich Wachowiak (about 120 v. RK).
 
    In the spring (19th April) of 1944 Rall took over command as the Gruppenkommadeur of II./JG 11 which was at the time on Home Defense (Reichsverteidigung) duties against the 8th Air Force. On 12th May while flying Bf 109 G-5 “Schwarz « +”, W.Nr.110 089, of Stab II./JG 11, he nearly succeeded in downing the commander of the famed 56th FG, Lt Col Hubert Zemke (17 3/4 v., POW 30/10/44), and did succeed in destroying two Thunderbolts of this unit. However, he
himself was attacked by another pair of P-47s from this same unit and was shot down and forced to bail out over Frankfurt / Main, in the process having his left
thumb shot off. In the operating room he suffered a severe infection that kept him hospitalized until November. His last command was JG 300 oparting out of Salzburg from 20th February 1945 until the end of the war. There he was taken prisoner by the Americans at the end of the war. He flew a total of 621 missions, and was shot down no less than 8 times, being wounded 3 times during which he shot down a total of 275 enemy aircraft, including 3 on the Western Front to become the third highest scoring fighter pilot in history.


 Eino Ilmari Juutilainen (Born 21st of February, 1914 in Lieksa) was a fighter pilot of the Ilmavoimat (The Finnish Air Force) and the top scoring non-German fighter pilot of all time. This makes him the top flying ace of the Finnish Air Force, leading all Finnish pilots in score against Soviet aircraft in WWII (1939–40 and 1941–1944), with 94 confirmed aerial combat victories in 437 sorties. According to himself he achieved a total of 126 victories. He achieved 34 of his victories while flying the Brewster Buffalo fighter.

  Juutilainen entered the Finnish military on 9 September 1932 for his compulsory military service, serving as a pilot in the Finnish Air Force starting from 1935. On 1 May 1935, Juutilainen was promoted to sergeant. During the Winter War (that broke on 30 November 1939) he flew the Fokker D.XXI. During that conflict he achieved two individual victories and one shared.

 During the Continuation War, he served in 3/LeLv 24 flying Brewster B239s. In his BW-364 “Orange 4” (BW-364), he shot down 28 enemy planes out of his 34 Brewster victories (including three triple kills), between 9 July 1941 and 22 November 1942.
 Still a sergeant, Juutilainen scored his first victory on 19 December 1939, shooting down an Ilyushin DB-3 bomber and damaging two more.  He became a Brewster Buffalo “ace” on 21 July 1941 when he destroyed a Polikarpov I-153 ’Chaika’. He was flying one of six 3/Llv 24 Buffaloes scrambled to intercept Soviet fighters from 65th ShAP that were strafing Finnish troops near Käkisalmi. Few days later, on 1 August, Ist Lt Karhunen’s seven fighters destroyed six I-16s near Rautjarvi and Juutilainen claimed two of them. On the morning of 6 February, while reconnoitring the Petrovkiy-Jam region with other LLv 24 pilots he intercepted seven SB bombers escorted by 12 MiG-3s.
   In October 1939 Eino is deployed to Immola to fight in the Winter War, and flies as Eino Luukkanen’s wingman. Eino’s first air victory was a DB-3 bomber, on December 19th. On December 31st is his first dogfight and his 2nd kill, an I-16. On June 25th, 1941 the Continuation War begins and Eino is deployed at Rantasalmi Air Base, and flies a Brewster Buffalo. Eino’s 1st combat of WWII, he downs two I-153’s on July 9th, on August 18th he downs three I-16s, he downs one Spitfire and one MiG-1 on September 20th, and on April 26th, 1942, he is awarded the Mannerheim Cross.


Juutilainen sporting his new Mannerheim Cross- April 26th 1942

Eino Ilmari Juutilainen (Born 21st of February, 1914 in Lieksa) was a fighter pilot of the Ilmavoimat (The Finnish Air Force) and the top scoring non-German fighter pilot of all time. This makes him the top flying ace of the Finnish Air Force, leading all Finnish pilots in score against Soviet aircraft in WWII (1939–40 and 1941–1944), with 94 confirmed aerial combat victories in 437 sorties. According to himself he achieved a total of 126 victories. He achieved 34 of his victories while flying the Brewster Buffalo fighter.

  Juutilainen entered the Finnish military on 9 September 1932 for his compulsory military service, serving as a pilot in the Finnish Air Force starting from 1935. On 1 May 1935, Juutilainen was promoted to sergeant. During the Winter War (that broke on 30 November 1939) he flew the Fokker D.XXI. During that conflict he achieved two individual victories and one shared.

During the Continuation War, he served in 3/LeLv 24 flying Brewster B239s. In his BW-364 “Orange 4” (BW-364), he shot down 28 enemy planes out of his 34 Brewster victories (including three triple kills), between 9 July 1941 and 22 November 1942.

Still a sergeant, Juutilainen scored his first victory on 19 December 1939, shooting down an Ilyushin DB-3 bomber and damaging two more.  He became a Brewster Buffalo “ace” on 21 July 1941 when he destroyed a Polikarpov I-153 ’Chaika’. He was flying one of six 3/Llv 24 Buffaloes scrambled to intercept Soviet fighters from 65th ShAP that were strafing Finnish troops near Käkisalmi. Few days later, on 1 August, Ist Lt Karhunen’s seven fighters destroyed six I-16s near Rautjarvi and Juutilainen claimed two of them. On the morning of 6 February, while reconnoitring the Petrovkiy-Jam region with other LLv 24 pilots he intercepted seven SB bombers escorted by 12 MiG-3s.

   In October 1939 Eino is deployed to Immola to fight in the Winter War, and flies as Eino Luukkanen’s wingman. Eino’s first air victory was a DB-3 bomber, on December 19th. On December 31st is his first dogfight and his 2nd kill, an I-16. On June 25th, 1941 the Continuation War begins and Eino is deployed at Rantasalmi Air Base, and flies a Brewster Buffalo. Eino’s 1st combat of WWII, he downs two I-153’s on July 9th, on August 18th he downs three I-16s, he downs one Spitfire and one MiG-1 on September 20th, and on April 26th, 1942, he is awarded the Mannerheim Cross.


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Juutilainen sporting his new Mannerheim Cross- April 26th 1942


    Gerhard Barkhorn was born on 20 May 1919 at Königsberg in East Prussia. He joined the Luftwaffe in 1937 as a Fahnenjunker. He began his flying training in March 1938 in the pre-war Luftwaffe. On completion of his training he was posted to 3./JG 2. On 1 August 1940 Leutnant Barkhorn was transferred to 6./JG 52 based on the Channel Front.  He flew his initial missions with his new unit during the Battle of Britain but did not confirm any victories during this time. He was, however, shot down into the Channel on one occasion but was rescued unhurt. Barkhorn achieved his first success during his 120th mission on 2 July 1941 over the Eastern Front. Thereafter he was to score steadily, if relatively unspectacularly in comparison to other Eastern Front Luftwaffe aces, achieving his 10th victory on 30 November 1941. On 21 May, Barkhorn was appointed Staffelkapitän of 4./JG 52. Barkhorn was not a prolific scorer; his best single mission netted him four victories, his best day seven victories. In May he recorded seven victories, 16 victories in June and 31 in July, including six on 19 July for his 46th through 51st victories, and five on 20 July (52-56). On 25 July, he was wounded in combat flying Bf 109 F-4 (W.Nr. 13 388) “White 5”. Oberleutnant Barkhorn was awarded the Ritterkreuz on 23 August 1942 for 64 victories. After a two-month break away from the front he returned in early October. He recorded 14 victories in October, seven in November and 17 in December, including his 100th victory on 19 December. On 11 January 1943, he was awarded the Eichenlaub (Nr 175) when he achieved his 105th victory.
Gerd Barkhorn receiving congratulations from his Gruppe after his 250th victory.
    Hauptmann Barkhorn became Gruppenkommandeur of II./JG 52 on 1 September 1943, and led it until 15 January 1945. He claimed 24 victories in August, including his 150th on 8 August. He claimed 15 victories in September, 23 in November, including his 200th victory on 30 November 1943, and 28 in December, including seven on 28 December (216-222). On 23 January 1944, Barkhorn became the first fighter pilot to have completed 1,000 combat missions. He achieved his 250th victory on 12 February, the second to do so. He was awarded the Schwertern on 2 March 1944 for 251 victories. Barkhorn’s success had not come without some cost. He was shot down nine times in his combat career. He baled out once and was wounded twice. On 31 May 1944, Barkhorn was flying his sixth mission of the day and, being fatigued, was not concentrating on keeping a good look-out when he was bounced by a Russian Airacobra fighter and shot down in Bf 109 G-6 (W.Nr. 163 195) “« Black 5”. He received severe wounds to his right arm and leg which put him out of action for four months. He returned to combat duty at the end of October. He claimed his 275th victim on 14 November. He recorded his 301st, and last, victory on 5 January 1945.
 Barkhorn in his Fw 190D-9 on 17 February, 1945 in Welzow, Niederlausitz.
    On 16 January 1945, Major Barkhorn was transferred to take command of JG 6 serving on Reichsverteidigung  duties based at Posen. He led the unit until 10 April 1945 but was still suffering the effects of his wounds and eventually relinquished command for another spell in hospital. On recovery, Barkhorn joined JV 44 commanded by Generalleutnant Adolf Galland (104 victories, RK-Br) and operating the Me 262 jet fighter. On 21 April 1945, on the last of only two operational missions flying the Me 262, Barkhorn’s starboard engine failed. He was obliged to break off an attack on an American bomber formation and return to his base at Riem. He was chased by the USAAF P-51 fighter escort so set about landing his crippled machine in a clearing in some woods. In the resulting crash-landing the cockpit canopy, which he had opened to enable a quick escape, slammed shut on his neck. The incident put him back in hospital and out of the war. Post-war Barkhorn was one of the few noted Luftwaffe Experten who escaped being imprisoned by the Russians. However, he did become a prisoner of war of the Allies, finally being released by them in September 1945. He joined the Bundesluftwaffe in 1956, commanded JaboG 31 “Boelcke” and rose to the rank of Generalleutnant. He retired in 1976. On 6 January 1983, during a winter storm on an autobahn near Köln, Barkhorn and his wife, Christl, were involved in a serious automobile accident. Christl died at the scene but Gerhard lingered in a hospital for two days before passing away on 8 January.     Gerhard Barkhorn was credited with 301 victories gained in 1104 missions. All his victories were recorded while flying over the Eastern Front.

    Gerhard Barkhorn was born on 20 May 1919 at Königsberg in East Prussia. He joined the Luftwaffe in 1937 as a Fahnenjunker. He began his flying training in March 1938 in the pre-war Luftwaffe. On completion of his training he was posted to 3./JG 2. On 1 August 1940 Leutnant Barkhorn was transferred to 6./JG 52 based on the Channel Front.  He flew his initial missions with his new unit during the Battle of Britain but did not confirm any victories during this time. He was, however, shot down into the Channel on one occasion but was rescued unhurt. Barkhorn achieved his first success during his 120th mission on 2 July 1941 over the Eastern Front. Thereafter he was to score steadily, if relatively unspectacularly in comparison to other Eastern Front Luftwaffe aces, achieving his 10th victory on 30 November 1941. On 21 May, Barkhorn was appointed Staffelkapitän of 4./JG 52. Barkhorn was not a prolific scorer; his best single mission netted him four victories, his best day seven victories. In May he recorded seven victories, 16 victories in June and 31 in July, including six on 19 July for his 46th through 51st victories, and five on 20 July (52-56). On 25 July, he was wounded in combat flying Bf 109 F-4 (W.Nr. 13 388) “White 5”. Oberleutnant Barkhorn was awarded the Ritterkreuz on 23 August 1942 for 64 victories. After a two-month break away from the front he returned in early October. He recorded 14 victories in October, seven in November and 17 in December, including his 100th victory on 19 December. On 11 January 1943, he was awarded the Eichenlaub (Nr 175) when he achieved his 105th victory.

Gerd Barkhorn receiving congratulations
Gerd Barkhorn receiving congratulations from his Gruppe after his 250th victory.

    Hauptmann Barkhorn became Gruppenkommandeur of II./JG 52 on 1 September 1943, and led it until 15 January 1945. He claimed 24 victories in August, including his 150th on 8 August. He claimed 15 victories in September, 23 in November, including his 200th victory on 30 November 1943, and 28 in December, including seven on 28 December (216-222). On 23 January 1944, Barkhorn became the first fighter pilot to have completed 1,000 combat missions. He achieved his 250th victory on 12 February, the second to do so. He was awarded the Schwertern on 2 March 1944 for 251 victories. Barkhorn’s success had not come without some cost. He was shot down nine times in his combat career. He baled out once and was wounded twice. On 31 May 1944, Barkhorn was flying his sixth mission of the day and, being fatigued, was not concentrating on keeping a good look-out when he was bounced by a Russian Airacobra fighter and shot down in Bf 109 G-6 (W.Nr. 163 195) “« Black 5”. He received severe wounds to his right arm and leg which put him out of action for four months. He returned to combat duty at the end of October. He claimed his 275th victim on 14 November. He recorded his 301st, and last, victory on 5 January 1945.

Barkhorn in his Fw 190D-9
 Barkhorn in his Fw 190D-9 on 17 February, 1945 in Welzow, Niederlausitz.

    On 16 January 1945, Major Barkhorn was transferred to take command of JG 6 serving on Reichsverteidigung  duties based at Posen. He led the unit until 10 April 1945 but was still suffering the effects of his wounds and eventually relinquished command for another spell in hospital. On recovery, Barkhorn joined JV 44 commanded by Generalleutnant Adolf Galland (104 victories, RK-Br) and operating the Me 262 jet fighter. On 21 April 1945, on the last of only two operational missions flying the Me 262, Barkhorn’s starboard engine failed. He was obliged to break off an attack on an American bomber formation and return to his base at Riem. He was chased by the USAAF P-51 fighter escort so set about landing his crippled machine in a clearing in some woods. In the resulting crash-landing the cockpit canopy, which he had opened to enable a quick escape, slammed shut on his neck. The incident put him back in hospital and out of the war. Post-war Barkhorn was one of the few noted Luftwaffe Experten who escaped being imprisoned by the Russians. However, he did become a prisoner of war of the Allies, finally being released by them in September 1945. He joined the Bundesluftwaffe in 1956, commanded JaboG 31 “Boelcke” and rose to the rank of Generalleutnant. He retired in 1976. On 6 January 1983, during a winter storm on an autobahn near Köln, Barkhorn and his wife, Christl, were involved in a serious automobile accident. Christl died at the scene but Gerhard lingered in a hospital for two days before passing away on 8 January.
    Gerhard Barkhorn was credited with 301 victories gained in 1104 missions. All his victories were recorded while flying over the Eastern Front.

Erich Alfred Hartmann (1922-1993) was the highest scoring ace in the history of military aviation. He fought as a fighter pilot on the Eastern Front during World War II, shooting down 352 Soviet aircraft. Serving with the Luftwaffe, Hartmann flew 1,404 combat missions, engaged the enemy in combat 827 times and was never shot down. Known as “Bubi” or the “Blond Knight”, and to the Soviets as The Black Devil, he was an audacious and determined man with full control of himself and steel nerves.Erich Hartmann was born in Weissach, Württemberg, Germany, on April 19, 1922. His father was Alfred Erich Hartmann and his mother, Elisabeth Wilhelmine Machtholf. As his father was a physician and had been sent to work in China, Erich spent part of his childhood in the Far East. When the Chinese Civil War broke out, they returned to Germany in 1928. In the early 1930s, Erich Hartmann was taught to fly gliders by his mother, who was the first female pilot of Germany. Then, he joined the gliding training program of the future Luftwaffe. In 1939, Erich obtained his pilot’s license, which allowed him to fly powered aircraft.In October 1940, he joined the Luftwaffe where he learned combat techniques and gunnery skills. When his advanced pilot training was completed in January 1942, Hartmann was assigned to a Junkers Ju 87 Stuka at the fighter wing Jagdgeschwader 52 (JG 52), based at Maykop on the Eastern Front in the Soviet Union. Erich was placed under the supervision of some of the Luftwaffe’s most experienced fighter pilots, such as Walter Krupinski, Oberfeldwebel Edmund “Paule” Roßmann, and Alfred Grislawski. Hartmann flew his first combat mission on October 14, 1942, as Edmund “Paule” Roßmann’s wingman, flying a Messerschmitt Bf 109. By August 1944, Erich Hartmann had claimed 301 aerial victories and earned the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds.Erich Hartmann scored his last aerial victory, the 352th, on May 8, 1945. He and the remainder of JG 52 surrendered to United States Army forces and were turned over to the Red Army. In an attempt to pressure him into service with the Soviet-controlled East German air force, he was convicted of fabricated war crimes, a conviction posthumously voided by a Russian court as a malicious prosecution. Hartmann was sentenced to 25 years of hard labor and spent 10 years in various Soviet prison camps and gulags until he was released in 1955. In 1956, Hartmann joined the newly established West German Luftwaffe and became the first Wing Commander of Jagdgeschwader 71 “Richthofen”. Hartmann resigned from the Bundeswehr in 1970, largely due to his opposition to the F-104 Starfighter deployment in the Bundesluftwaffe and the resulting clashes with his superiors over this issue. Then, he worked as a flight instructor. Erich Hartmann died in 1993.

III./JG 52’s commander, Major Hubertus von Bonin, placed Hartmann under Oberfeldwebel Grislawski’s wings. The miner’s son Alfred Grislawski found a particular pleasure in teaching this newcomer the name of the game. He made a few mock combats with Hartmann. This relieved Hartmann of some of his ambitious ideas, but Grislawski had to admit that although Hartmann had a lot to learn aboutcombat tactics, he was quite a talented pilot. The trouble began when they started flying combat missions together. Grislawski immediately noticed that the newcomer was one of those who thought they were going to “shoot together a Knight’s Cross” in no time. During one incident, Hartmann had barely started to leave his place behind Grislawski to go after an I-16, when his earphones seemed to explode: “You bloody idiot! What the hell do you think you’re doing? I’m your leader! Get back in place or I’ll shoot you down myself!” Grislawski kept cursing over the R/T all the way back to base, and when they had landed, the Oberfeldwebel gave the Leutnant a dressing down that he would never forget. Then, in front of the sweating Hartmann, Grislawski turned to his friend “Paule” Rossmann and said: “Oh man, this is too much! What a baby they have sent us! Just look at his face - like a cute little boy!” From then on, Grislawski never addressed Hartmann as anything but Bubi, “little boy”.Hartmann indeed proved to be extremely individualistic, and von Bonin definitely knew what he was doing when he assigned a vigorous and harsh worker’s son like Alfred Grislawski as his teacher. The men at Soldatskaya used to gather around the radio equipment and listen to the R/T communication with amusement when Grislawski and Hartmann were out on combat missions."Are you so anxious to die, Bubi?""I’m sorry, sir!""Don’t you ‘sir’ me, look after your tail instead!""I’ll nail you for this, Bubi!""I’m sorry!""Your mother will be sorry!"*-Erich Hartmann on Hauptmann Alfred Grislawski
"Once I was in a duel with a Red Banner flown Yak-9, and this guy          was good, and absolutely insane. He tried and tried to get in behind me,          and every time he went to open fire I would jerk out of the way of his          rounds. Then he pulled up and rolled, and we approached each other head          on, firing, with no hits either way. This happened two times. Finally          I rolled into a negative G dive, out of his line of sight, and rolled          out to chase him at full throttle. I came in from below in a shallow climb          and flamed him. The pilot bailed out and was later captured. I met and          spoke with this man, a captain, who was a likeable guy. We gave him some          food and allowed him to roam the base after having his word that he would          not escape. He was happy to be alive, but he was very confused, since          his superiors told him that Soviet pilots would be shot immediately upon          capture. This guy had just had one of the best meals of the war and had          made new friends. I like to think that people like that went back home          and told their countrymen the truth about us, not the propaganda that          erupted after the war, although there were some terrible things that happened,          no doubt." -Erich Hartmann on his foes on the Eastern Front
"Once I attacked a flight of four IL-2s and shot          one up. All four tried to roll out in formation at low altitude, and all          four crashed into the ground, unable to recover since their bomb loads          reduced their maneuverability. Those were the easiest four kills I ever          had.
However, I remember the time I saw over 20,000 dead Germans          littering a valley where the Soviet tanks and Cossacks had attacked a          trapped unit, and that sight, even from the air was perhaps the most memorable          of my life. I can close my eyes and see this even now. Such a tragedy!          I remember that I cried as I flew low over the scene; I could not believe          my eyes.
Another time was in May 1944 near Jassy, my wingman Blessin          and I were jumped by fighters, he broke right and the enemy followed him          down. I rolled and followed the enemy fighter down to the deck. I radioed          to my wingman to pull up and slip right in a shallow turn so I could get          a good shot. I told him to look back, and see what happens when you do          not watch your tail, and I fired. The fighter blew apart and fell like          confetti.
However, separate from Krupinski’s crash the day          I met him, one event is clear and comical. My wingman on many missions          was Carl Junger. He came in for a landing and a Polish farmer with horse          cart crossed his path. He crashed into it, killing the horse and the fighter          was nothing but twisted wreckage. We all saw it and began thinking about          the funeral, when suddenly the debris moved and he climbed out without          a scratch, still wearing his sunglasses. He was ready to go up again.          Amazing!”-Erich Hartmann on memorable moments

"Then there was the American Mustangs that we both          dreaded and anticipated meeting. We knew that they were a much better          aircraft than ours; newer and faster, and with a great range. On 23 June          1944. In the defense of Ploesti, Bucharest, and Hungary when the bombers          were coming in with heavy fighter escort and “Karaya 1” was          commander of I/JG52. B-17s were attacking the railroad junction, and we          were formed up. We did not see the Mustangs at first and prepared to attack          the bombers. Suddenly four of them flew across us and below, so I gave          the order to attack the fighters. I closed in on one and fired, his fighter          coming apart and some pieces hit my wings, and I immediately found myself          behind another and I fired, and he flipped in. My second flight shot down          the other two fighters. But then we saw others and again attacked. I shot          down another and saw that the leader still had his drop tanks, which limited          his ability to turn. I was very relieved that this pilot was able to successfully          bail out. I was out of ammunition after the fight. But this success was          not to be repeated, because the Americans learned and they were not to          be ambushed again. They protected the bombers very well, and we were never          able to get close enough to do any damage. I did have the opportunity          to engage the Mustangs again when a flight was being pursued from the          rear and I tried to warn them on the radio, but they could not hear. I          dived down and closed on a P-51 that was shooting up a 109, and I blew          him up. I half rolled and recovered to fire on another of the three remaining          enemy planes and flamed him as well. As soon as that happened I was warned          that I had several on my tail so I headed for the deck, a swarm of eight          Americans behind me. That is a very uncomfortable feeling I can tell you!          I made jerking turns left and right as they fired, but they fired from          too far away to be effective. I was headed for the base so the defensive          guns would help me, but I ran out of fuel and had to bail out. I was certain          that this one pilot was lining me up for a strafe, but he banked away          and looked at me, waving. I landed four miles from the base; I almost          made it. That day we lost half our aircraft; we were too outnumbered and          many of the young pilots were inexperienced."-Erich Hartmann on his encounter with American Pilots
"Goring could not believe the staggering kills being          recorded from 1941 on. I even had a man in my unit, someone you also know,          Fritz Oblesser, who questioned my kills. I asked Rall to have him transferred          from the 8th Squadron to be my wingman for a while. Oblesser became a          believer and signed off on some kills as a witness, and we became friends          after that."   Goring wasn’t the only one who didn’t believe the claims          coming out of Russia. The scores reported were so high, a very strict          system was put into place to verify a claim. Not only were pilots required          to sign off on their wingmate’s kills but independent ground confirmation          was needed as well. When a pilot shot down a plane he would call out over          the radio, “Horrido.” At this point pilots or ground crew in          the area would look about and see if they saw the event. Most often on          the eastern front, there were many on hand to see the victim smash into          the ground, and thereby make the kill “official.”  A few other things deserve to be mentioned here too… Shared kills were not individually counted by the pilots involved, but          they did count toward the squadron’s score as a whole. You won’t see a          score of 50.5, for example, for a German Ace.  And, points were awarded depending on the number of engines a plane had          that was destroyed. 1 point for a single engine, 2 for a twin, 4 for a          four-engined bomber and so on. These points were added up and when a pilot          achieved a certain number of points he was awarded a medal (the points          required for a given medal was much higher on the eastern front than it          was on the western front). These points are in no way related to a pilot’s total score of victories.          Bringing down a 4-engined bomber may have gotten a pilot 4 points, but          it only got him 1 victory.  So make no mistake, Erich Hartmann’s score of 352 does not refer to engines          but 352 individual planes shot down.-Erich Hartmann on his score.
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Erich Alfred Hartmann (1922-1993) was the highest scoring ace in the history of military aviation. He fought as a fighter pilot on the Eastern Front during World War II, shooting down 352 Soviet aircraft. Serving with the Luftwaffe, Hartmann flew 1,404 combat missions, engaged the enemy in combat 827 times and was never shot down. Known as “Bubi” or the “Blond Knight”, and to the Soviets as The Black Devil, he was an audacious and determined man with full control of himself and steel nerves.

Erich Hartmann was born in Weissach, Württemberg, Germany, on April 19, 1922. His father was Alfred Erich Hartmann and his mother, Elisabeth Wilhelmine Machtholf. As his father was a physician and had been sent to work in China, Erich spent part of his childhood in the Far East. When the Chinese Civil War broke out, they returned to Germany in 1928. In the early 1930s, Erich Hartmann was taught to fly gliders by his mother, who was the first female pilot of Germany. Then, he joined the gliding training program of the future Luftwaffe. In 1939, Erich obtained his pilot’s license, which allowed him to fly powered aircraft.

In October 1940, he joined the Luftwaffe where he learned combat techniques and gunnery skills. When his advanced pilot training was completed in January 1942, Hartmann was assigned to a Junkers Ju 87 Stuka at the fighter wing Jagdgeschwader 52 (JG 52), based at Maykop on the Eastern Front in the Soviet Union. Erich was placed under the supervision of some of the Luftwaffe’s most experienced fighter pilots, such as Walter Krupinski, Oberfeldwebel Edmund “Paule” Roßmann, and Alfred Grislawski. Hartmann flew his first combat mission on October 14, 1942, as Edmund “Paule” Roßmann’s wingman, flying a Messerschmitt Bf 109. By August 1944, Erich Hartmann had claimed 301 aerial victories and earned the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds.

Erich Hartmann scored his last aerial victory, the 352th, on May 8, 1945. He and the remainder of JG 52 surrendered to United States Army forces and were turned over to the Red Army. In an attempt to pressure him into service with the Soviet-controlled East German air force, he was convicted of fabricated war crimes, a conviction posthumously voided by a Russian court as a malicious prosecution. Hartmann was sentenced to 25 years of hard labor and spent 10 years in various Soviet prison camps and gulags until he was released in 1955. In 1956, Hartmann joined the newly established West German Luftwaffe and became the first Wing Commander of Jagdgeschwader 71 “Richthofen”. Hartmann resigned from the Bundeswehr in 1970, largely due to his opposition to the F-104 Starfighter deployment in the Bundesluftwaffe and the resulting clashes with his superiors over this issue. Then, he worked as a flight instructor. Erich Hartmann died in 1993.

III./JG 52’s commander, Major Hubertus von Bonin, placed Hartmann under Oberfeldwebel Grislawski’s wings. The miner’s son Alfred Grislawski found a particular pleasure in teaching this newcomer the name of the game. He made a few mock combats with Hartmann. This relieved Hartmann of some of his ambitious ideas, but Grislawski had to admit that although Hartmann had a lot to learn about
combat tactics, he was quite a talented pilot. The trouble began when they started flying combat missions together. Grislawski immediately noticed that the newcomer was one of those who thought they were going to “shoot together a Knight’s Cross” in no time. During one incident, Hartmann had barely started to leave his place behind Grislawski to go after an I-16, when his earphones seemed to explode: “You bloody idiot! What the hell do you think you’re doing? I’m your leader! Get back in place or I’ll shoot you down myself!” Grislawski kept cursing over the R/T all the way back to base, and when they had landed, the Oberfeldwebel gave the Leutnant a dressing down that he would never forget. Then, in front of the sweating Hartmann, Grislawski turned to his friend “Paule” Rossmann and said: “Oh man, this is too much! What a baby they have sent us! Just look at his face - like a cute little boy!” From then on, Grislawski never addressed Hartmann as anything but Bubi, “little boy”.
Hartmann indeed proved to be extremely individualistic, and von Bonin definitely knew what he was doing when he assigned a vigorous and harsh worker’s son like Alfred Grislawski as his teacher. The men at Soldatskaya used to gather around the radio equipment and listen to the R/T communication with amusement when Grislawski and Hartmann were out on combat missions.
"Are you so anxious to die, Bubi?"
"I’m sorry, sir!"
"Don’t you ‘sir’ me, look after your tail instead!"
"I’ll nail you for this, Bubi!"
"I’m sorry!"
"Your mother will be sorry!"*
-Erich Hartmann on Hauptmann Alfred Grislawski

"Once I was in a duel with a Red Banner flown Yak-9, and this guy was good, and absolutely insane. He tried and tried to get in behind me, and every time he went to open fire I would jerk out of the way of his rounds. Then he pulled up and rolled, and we approached each other head on, firing, with no hits either way. This happened two times. Finally I rolled into a negative G dive, out of his line of sight, and rolled out to chase him at full throttle. I came in from below in a shallow climb and flamed him. The pilot bailed out and was later captured. I met and spoke with this man, a captain, who was a likeable guy. We gave him some food and allowed him to roam the base after having his word that he would not escape. He was happy to be alive, but he was very confused, since his superiors told him that Soviet pilots would be shot immediately upon capture. This guy had just had one of the best meals of the war and had made new friends. I like to think that people like that went back home and told their countrymen the truth about us, not the propaganda that erupted after the war, although there were some terrible things that happened, no doubt."
-Erich Hartmann on his foes on the Eastern Front

"Once I attacked a flight of four IL-2s and shot one up. All four tried to roll out in formation at low altitude, and all four crashed into the ground, unable to recover since their bomb loads reduced their maneuverability. Those were the easiest four kills I ever had.

However, I remember the time I saw over 20,000 dead Germans littering a valley where the Soviet tanks and Cossacks had attacked a trapped unit, and that sight, even from the air was perhaps the most memorable of my life. I can close my eyes and see this even now. Such a tragedy! I remember that I cried as I flew low over the scene; I could not believe my eyes.

Another time was in May 1944 near Jassy, my wingman Blessin and I were jumped by fighters, he broke right and the enemy followed him down. I rolled and followed the enemy fighter down to the deck. I radioed to my wingman to pull up and slip right in a shallow turn so I could get a good shot. I told him to look back, and see what happens when you do not watch your tail, and I fired. The fighter blew apart and fell like confetti.

However, separate from Krupinski’s crash the day I met him, one event is clear and comical. My wingman on many missions was Carl Junger. He came in for a landing and a Polish farmer with horse cart crossed his path. He crashed into it, killing the horse and the fighter was nothing but twisted wreckage. We all saw it and began thinking about the funeral, when suddenly the debris moved and he climbed out without a scratch, still wearing his sunglasses. He was ready to go up again. Amazing!”
-Erich Hartmann on memorable moments

"Then there was the American Mustangs that we both dreaded and anticipated meeting. We knew that they were a much better aircraft than ours; newer and faster, and with a great range. On 23 June 1944. In the defense of Ploesti, Bucharest, and Hungary when the bombers were coming in with heavy fighter escort and “Karaya 1” was commander of I/JG52. B-17s were attacking the railroad junction, and we were formed up. We did not see the Mustangs at first and prepared to attack the bombers. Suddenly four of them flew across us and below, so I gave the order to attack the fighters. I closed in on one and fired, his fighter coming apart and some pieces hit my wings, and I immediately found myself behind another and I fired, and he flipped in. My second flight shot down the other two fighters. But then we saw others and again attacked. I shot down another and saw that the leader still had his drop tanks, which limited his ability to turn. I was very relieved that this pilot was able to successfully bail out. I was out of ammunition after the fight. But this success was not to be repeated, because the Americans learned and they were not to be ambushed again. They protected the bombers very well, and we were never able to get close enough to do any damage. I did have the opportunity to engage the Mustangs again when a flight was being pursued from the rear and I tried to warn them on the radio, but they could not hear. I dived down and closed on a P-51 that was shooting up a 109, and I blew him up. I half rolled and recovered to fire on another of the three remaining enemy planes and flamed him as well. As soon as that happened I was warned that I had several on my tail so I headed for the deck, a swarm of eight Americans behind me. That is a very uncomfortable feeling I can tell you! I made jerking turns left and right as they fired, but they fired from too far away to be effective. I was headed for the base so the defensive guns would help me, but I ran out of fuel and had to bail out. I was certain that this one pilot was lining me up for a strafe, but he banked away and looked at me, waving. I landed four miles from the base; I almost made it. That day we lost half our aircraft; we were too outnumbered and many of the young pilots were inexperienced."
-Erich Hartmann on his encounter with American Pilots

"Goring could not believe the staggering kills being recorded from 1941 on. I even had a man in my unit, someone you also know, Fritz Oblesser, who questioned my kills. I asked Rall to have him transferred from the 8th Squadron to be my wingman for a while. Oblesser became a believer and signed off on some kills as a witness, and we became friends after that."
  Goring wasn’t the only one who didn’t believe the claims coming out of Russia. The scores reported were so high, a very strict system was put into place to verify a claim. Not only were pilots required to sign off on their wingmate’s kills but independent ground confirmation was needed as well. When a pilot shot down a plane he would call out over the radio, “Horrido.” At this point pilots or ground crew in the area would look about and see if they saw the event. Most often on the eastern front, there were many on hand to see the victim smash into the ground, and thereby make the kill “official.”
A few other things deserve to be mentioned here too…
Shared kills were not individually counted by the pilots involved, but they did count toward the squadron’s score as a whole. You won’t see a score of 50.5, for example, for a German Ace.
And, points were awarded depending on the number of engines a plane had that was destroyed. 1 point for a single engine, 2 for a twin, 4 for a four-engined bomber and so on. These points were added up and when a pilot achieved a certain number of points he was awarded a medal (the points required for a given medal was much higher on the eastern front than it was on the western front).
These points are in no way related to a pilot’s total score of victories. Bringing down a 4-engined bomber may have gotten a pilot 4 points, but it only got him 1 victory.
So make no mistake, Erich Hartmann’s score of 352 does not refer to engines but 352 individual planes shot down.
-Erich Hartmann on his score.

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