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Greatest combat pilot ever?

Discussion in 'WWII General' started by GrandsonofAMarine, Jul 15, 2009.

  1. GrandsonofAMarine

    GrandsonofAMarine Member

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    "The only Golden Oakleaves, Swords and Diamonds holder was Hans Ulrich Rudel of the Luftwaffe. A Stuka dive bomber pilot, Rudel destroyed 518 Russian tanks (that's five Russian tank corps), 150 flak and artillery positions, 700 trucks, sunk the Russian battleship Marat, a Russian cruiser, a Russian Destroyer, 70 Russian landing craft, and hundreds of other targets (bridges, railways, bunkers). He also heavily damaged another Russian battleship, the October Revolution. Rudel flew 2,530 combat missions, of which 400 were in a Focke-Wulf 190, claimed 11 air victories and was shot down 32 times.":eek:

    Those are mind numbing numbers.
     
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  2. C.Evans

    C.Evans Expert

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    Erich Alfred Hartmann was the LW's top scoring Fighter pilot w/ 352 kills. The Germans produced some of the best Aviators of all time. Major Bong I THINK was our top scoring fighter pilot of the war--I THINK?? w/ what-40 or 60 victories? It's been a long time since I last read about Major Bong so my numbers im sure are wrong.
     
  3. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Great pilots both.Personally I prefer Hans-Joachim Marseille, but I think this is another matter where everybody is correct.
     
  4. Wolfy

    Wolfy Ace

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  5. macker33

    macker33 Member

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    I would go with Rudel,the guy had a reward put on his head by stalin was shot down countless times behind enemy lines and did this while missing legs.
    A real super soldier,all we need now is a film about him or skorzeny.
     
  6. Wolfy

    Wolfy Ace

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    I honestly don't understand how Rudel managed to stay alive....flying a STUKA! He should have fallen to Soviet anti-air like so many of the others.
     
  7. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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  8. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Note the opening post which mentioned him being shot down 32 times. So he did, several times...
     
  9. Wolfy

    Wolfy Ace

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    lwd, I did catch that 32 part. It's just that its amazing that he was never killed by the enemy shell.

     
  10. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    Bong had 40, but let's not neglect that the Axis policy was "fly 'till ya die", or can't fly anymore. American policy rotated men home after a given number of missions, and Bong was one of those. Too bad he was killed shortly thereafter when flying tests for the P-80, the engine flamed out on take-off and down it went. It was not his first flight in the "Shooting Star", something like his 15th?. I'll have to look that up. Bong had been rotated home after 200 combat missions, and 500 combat hours. Ironically he died the very day that the Enola Gay dropped the first atomic on Hiroshima, August 6th.

    His fellow P-38 pilot, Tommy McGuire racked up 38, and was determined to exceed Bong before he was rotated home, but he never made it before dying on his last mission. Rumors are that he kept his drop tanks on, hoping for a "quick kill" and more range for a couple more to pass Bong. His P-38 snap rolled to the left when he tried to bring his weapons to bear, and with drop tank still attached he went in and died.

    Policy and time in combat had a great deal to do with the huge numbers, not taking anything away from those men who flew for the Luftwaffe. But it seems to me that using their skills to pass them on to new pilots would have been a wiser course of action in the long run.
     
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  11. marc780

    marc780 Member

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    Best all around was probably Rudel, since he pretty much did it all and miraculously survived the war. But best performance of any fighter pilot ever, is undoubtedly Hartman: since you cannot argue with over 350 air to air kills!

    Hartman had an amazing career and survived being shot down several times. He preferred the ME 109 even when other fighters like the FW 190 became available.

    In late 1944 he was called to see Hitler to be awarded Knights cross to his iron cross. This was after the July assasination attempt so Hitler's adjutant (possibly Borman but the account didnt say) told Hartman that he would have to surrender his side arm if he wanted to see Hitler for the medal. Hartman replied that if his Fuerher did not even trust his own pilots, he did not want the award! This information was relayed to Hitler who shortly ordered that Hartman be brought in (WITH his sidearm) to accept the award.

    In 1945 the Russians were about to over run Hartman's air base and capture the Luftwaffe airman. There was fuel only enough for a one way flight by one aircraft. Hartman's men urged him to save himself and fly to the West and escape the Russians, arguing there was no point for him to be captured too. Hartman refused and instead accepted Soviet captivity with his men. The Russians held him and his men for 10 years before finally releasing him.
     
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  12. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Not only that but at least one of the times he was shot down he was well behind enemy lines and managed to walk/run back to his own lines. Even if some of hist totals are a bit inflated he was an amazing pilot. On the other hand there were others Sakai for instance who even survived a kamikazi mission.
     
  13. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

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    very doubtful Rudel was the best, his tank kills are subject to accuracy as well as E. Hartmann's overall total of victories

    most likey for a LW pilot it would be one who could stay alive with US heavy bombers as well as Allied escorts such as the P-51D during 1943 till wars end.
     
  14. C.Evans

    C.Evans Expert

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    Hi Clint, kudos and thanks for the confirm on Bongs score. I had known he died but forgot how and when. However, that is sad to hear about McGuire-I didn't know that about him. Sad to die on ones last mission. At either rate, Bong and Boyington are two of my Favorite American Aces-Gabreski and others too.

    Of my German favorites, they include but not limited to: Erich Alfred "Bubi" Hartmann, Johannes "Macky" Steinhoff, Adolf Ferdinand Galland, Der Stern von Afrika (Marseille) and of course others ;-))
     
  15. C.Evans

    C.Evans Expert

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    I remember reading this in: The Blond Knight of Germany by: Raymond Tolliver. That was an excellent book and one that greatly held my interests from cover to cover. Also, before Hartmann was captured-he and another Ace threw away their Knights Crosses into a nearby river in order to keep them from being taken by the Russians.
     
  16. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

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    just to make things clear, E. H. never had the chance to fly the Fw 190 as his own JG 52 on the Ost front flew the Bf 109 in many variants exclusively, so saying he had a preference is silly
     
  17. Miguel B.

    Miguel B. Member

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    I disagree. The Luftwaffe had most of it's strenght in the Eastern front and, like their ground counterpart, the Eastern front had some of the most vicious and enduring battles. German pilots were flying sorties pretty muchevery time they landed for most of the time.





    Cheers...
     
  18. C.Evans

    C.Evans Expert

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    Hi Miguel, JFYI, Erich has a bit more experiance and connections for this stuff, as wellas with German Veterans and more than I do. I THINK-he has a bit more experiance in these things than you do. On this site, you will not find a person more qualified in this stuff than he is. I highly suggest you listen to what he has to say.

    Cheers and Rootbeers :snoopy: the :ww1ace:
     
  19. mac_bolan00

    mac_bolan00 Member

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    galland: he and a british pilot somehow shot each other down in one fight. now how does one manage that? i suppose a head-on engagement with both sides' guns blazing away? galland also managed to get shot down twice in one day.
     
  20. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    The "fly until you die" German policy, though there were exceptions like Galland, allowed exceptional pilots to reach impressive scores.
    The German fighter aces claims, especially those on the western front, have been researched thoroughly using allied sources, has anything similar been done with Rudel? The Petropavlovsk is a "half kill" as she continued to serve as floating battery alongside her undamaged sister and I can't find the cruiser or the destroyer.
    Tank "kills" by aircraft are unconfirmable, unless the tank burns out or is capured it's likely to be repaired as proven by allied research were a ridiculously small number of examined wrecks could be attributed to aircraft (14 Panthers out of 223 examined in France were attributed to air and at Mortain against 252 claims by pilots, probably somehow confirmed by the gun camera pictures, there were only 177 German tanks and assault guns present and only 9 wrecks examined afterwards were attributed to air attacks). Was something similar true for Rudel ?
     

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