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Achilles97
02-06-2004, 01:18 AM
I read the two recent posts about ace stories, and the one about Hartmann's career didn't seem that impressive. It's seems like he was pretty bad, then all of a sudden he was the best ever. I really liked reading about Marseille, but I don't understand how he died if he bailed out.

Anyway, how good was Hartmann? Was he great or did he just have a lot of targets? What about Gunther Rall?

Achilles97
02-06-2004, 01:18 AM
I read the two recent posts about ace stories, and the one about Hartmann's career didn't seem that impressive. It's seems like he was pretty bad, then all of a sudden he was the best ever. I really liked reading about Marseille, but I don't understand how he died if he bailed out.

Anyway, how good was Hartmann? Was he great or did he just have a lot of targets? What about Gunther Rall?

Zayets
02-06-2004, 01:23 AM
The best ace? Hmmmm.... lemme think...
without any doubt Republic P47 Thunderbolt!

Zayets out

ali3n_SLO
02-06-2004, 01:32 AM
Pierre Clostermann (French ace flying for RAF, Spitt, Tempest) was very found of Walter Nowotny (Fw 190 and Me 262, JG 54)

MatuDa_
02-06-2004, 01:44 AM
Hartmann gets my vote, overall a very straightforward and intelligent pilot.

Always took his wingman home, downed more ac than anyone else EVER.

The reason he didn't get much kills in the beginning is he was calmly calculating the best tactics and observing his wing leaders (most of whom were turnfighters btw.) Also it was typical of the LW that leader of the pair did all the killing, wingman was to watch his back and learn. Hartmann wasn't as strong as some others so turnfighting didn't work well for him and the risks were also higher than on energy tactics. I cannot remember who Hartmann was flying with when he learned the tricks of bnz.. someone plz throw the name in if u know it.

Rajvosa
02-06-2004, 01:48 AM
G√ľnter Rall seemes to have been a nice chap.

Golf GTI Edition 2.0 16v (Rest In Pieces!)

tenmmike
02-06-2004, 01:57 AM
Marseille, crashed into his vertical stabiliser while bailing out....read hartmanns book youll see who he thought

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Fehler
02-06-2004, 02:05 AM
Hey what about Nowotny?

Great pilot for so many different planes!

I still like Rahl the best though. A real classy guy. I love listening to all his interviews. He is a guy that really flew for the wrong side...

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tenmmike
02-06-2004, 02:13 AM
josef "jupp'; Zwernemann(kia 1944)(kia april 1944 126 kills) tought eric the get close before shooting principal

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MatuDa_
02-06-2004, 02:28 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by tenmmike:
Marseille, crashed into his vertical stabiliser while bailing out....read hartmanns book youll see who he thought
<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Actutually Eric was just joking when he said Marseille was more successful when the pre-KGB was interviewing him. He mocked the russians by saying western allied planes were worth 3 times moree than russian planes.. ..and thus making Marseille more succesful. It was just to piss off the russians.

LeLv28_Masi
02-06-2004, 03:12 AM
Heinz B√¬§r

Hristo_
02-06-2004, 03:13 AM
Hartmann, because he honed the basic principles to perfection. Minimized risk, maximized efficiency and stuck to it.

352 kills and got out alive, even though he fought mostly superior numbers and sometimes superior planes, even though his country lost the war. An exceptional man, and that is probably an understatement.

LeLv28_Masi
02-06-2004, 03:19 AM
Heinz B√¬§r,
Over 100 kills on Eastern wront,
Over 100 kills on Western front,

16 Kills on Me262.

If I remember righthttp://ubbxforums.ubi.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

LeadSpitter_
02-06-2004, 03:38 AM
gunther rall, he seems like such a great person. Hartman had the numbers, also dont forget on the eastern front 5000 las migs i16s were destroyed on the ground and the germans got credit for a strafed plane as enemy shotdown. The us did also

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Friendly_flyer
02-06-2004, 03:59 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>I really liked reading about Marseille, but I don't understand how he died if he bailed out.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Alas, bailing out is by no means a safe way out of trouble. In the game, bailing out is fairly simple and the parachute always open. In real life, just getting out of the plane could kill you. You could get hit by the tail, the parachute could fail to open or the lines get caught on the plane or get tangled in turbulence, someone might shoot you while hanging there helpless, and then comes the landing...

Generally, as long as there was some way to control the plane, most pilots would rather crash-land than bail.

Fly friendly!

Petter B√¬łckman
Norway

MatuDa_
02-06-2004, 04:32 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by LeadSpitter_:
Hartman had the numbers, also dont forget on the eastern front 5000 las migs i16s were destroyed on the ground and the germans got credit for a strafed plane as enemy shotdown.
<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I read Hartmann's bio a while ago and I can't remember him strafing airfields at all. Most of the strafing took place in the very beginning of the war anyways and Hartmann wasn't deployed at that time. His first kills were spring of '43 I think. So the above comment doesn't concern Eric imho.

Hristo_
02-06-2004, 04:45 AM
First time ever that I hear Luftwaffe counted strafed planes as victories.

What is your source, Leadspitter ?

LeadSpitter_
02-06-2004, 05:23 AM
seen it on discovery wings, it was called international conflict,

also in dvd wwii battle force it has info about ground aircraft kills being recorded as a kill from the spanish civil war, poland to the early invasion of russia where they destroyed almost the entire russian airforce on the ground.

Hartman first flew in 42, Theres a book by a russian interrogator from when hartman was imprisioned in russia, i will try to find the author I the book was called Soviet Union Prisoner Number One German Pilot Nicknamed Devil

he was captured once in 43 and got away then captured again for 10yrs



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[This message was edited by LeadSpitter_ on Fri February 06 2004 at 04:37 AM.]

JorBR
02-06-2004, 05:29 AM
Lead, this thing of straffing kills is a typical early view of the LW. Nowadays there is a consense among historians that german kills were achieved in the air and claimed in good faith, Goebells didn‚¬īt boost them.

My favorite LW ace is Heinz Bar. The best is Hartmann of course, he has a very rational approach of air combat.

[This message was edited by JorBR on Fri February 06 2004 at 04:40 AM.]

il_gufo
02-06-2004, 12:15 PM
I'm partial to Adolf Galland. His count wasn't as high but he was a superb pilot and a gentleman.

darkhorizon11
02-06-2004, 12:21 PM
Hartmann or Nowotny? Actually this leads to another question of mine. How many Luftwaffe guys were over 300??

XyZspineZyX
02-06-2004, 12:21 PM
Hard to argue with 352 kills and surviving the war on the Eastern Front. Hartmann is your guy.

But, had he lived, you wonder about Marseille. His death was a flying accident, and he'd only been shot down a couple of times early on, before he developed his "touch". You wonder if any enemy would have eventually killed him.

He was seemingly the one guy who innately had "Wonder Woman" below the nose vision. I understand he could come across a defensive circle, dive down on one plane on one side of the circle and kill it, then recover the dive, blasting another plane on the other side of the circle during the climbout...all in one pass.

Speaking of invulnerability to the enemy, there's the Finnish ace, Illo Juutilainen who got 94 kills (I think) and was NEVER hit by fire from an enemy fighter. He was hit by AAA fire and flex gun fire a couple times, but no fighter ever drew a bead on him. That's kind of amazing, too. Even Hartmann or Marseille couldn't claim that.

Zen--
02-06-2004, 12:34 PM
Marseille is credited with 17 planes in 1 day against the British in Africa....3 sorties, 17 kills.

His total was something around 125-150 but his career was cut short by the bailout accident. It is also said that in the last months of his career he was dispondent, could only sleep an our a night and began to get very reckless as though he cared little for his own life.



Only two that I know of crossed the 300 mark...Hartman and Gerd Barkhorn

http://www.luftwaffe.cz/barkhorn.html

-Zen-
Formerly TX-Zen

Bruusteri
02-06-2004, 01:11 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Stiglr:
Speaking of invulnerability to the enemy, there's the Finnish ace, Illo Juutilainen who got 94 kills (I think) and was NEVER hit by fire from an enemy fighter. He was hit by AAA fire and flex gun fire a couple times, but no fighter ever drew a bead on him. That's kind of amazing, too. Even Hartmann or Marseille couldn't claim that.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Ilmari "Illu" Juutilainen. He first flew Fokker D.XXI, then Brewster, then Bf-109G-2, finally 109 G-6. Yes he had 94 confirmed kills. I just read a book of him ("punalent√¬§jien kiusana"). He was quite a character. Always ready to answer with a full broadside if somebody dared to say him something not so friendly. Once he had to do some time (few days)in a prison, because an officer accused him of flying a plane in a reckless way - Illu had banked a plane while flying. When the officer complained, Illu just said that it is a normal custom to bank a plane when turning - what an idiot that officer was.

So who's the best LW ace. There are many factors, so it is a difficult to say for sure. Hartmann sure was very good, but so was the guy (cannot remember his name right now and too lazy to a pick a book) who killed circa 70 planes on c. 70 missions (about 1:1 kill ratio!).

JG7_Rall
02-06-2004, 01:20 PM
Marseille was definatly a great ace. If he had not been killed I definatly think his could would be up among the highest.

My favorite ace however is Gunther Rall. He was considered by many to be the best shot in the LW and was a true gentleman.

Galland was quite good too, and all his kills where against the western front. A very skilled pilot.

Bremspropeller
02-06-2004, 01:27 PM
Erich Rudorffer


13 kills in one sortie...



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horseback
02-06-2004, 01:28 PM
I have to favor Pritzl Bar, because of his successes with every fighter in every theater, despite some 'political' difficulties putting him on the back burner for periods of time. Hartmann, Barkhorn (of whom we hear relatively little), and Rall strike me as specialists who might not have enjoyed the same level of success in another theater, or possibly even another unit.

Marseilles was a great instinctive fighter, but he operated in an arena where he enjoyed absolute technical superiority against less than skilled opposition. The only thing the Desert Air Force had going for it before Torch and the arrival of the Spit MK IX was numbers, and for guys like him, that just meant more targets.

Marseilles had his problems on the Kanal Front, and they weren't all just matters of military discipline. He might have enjoyed a great deal of success in the East, but had he survived to return to the Continent, his reputation might not have been enhanced in the Defense of the Reich period.

Cheers

horseback

"Here's your new Mustangs, boys. You can learn to fly'em on the way to the target. Cheers!" -LTCOL Don Blakeslee, 4th FG CO, February 27th, 1944

crazyivan1970
02-06-2004, 02:08 PM
This guy.

http://hem.passagen.se/galland/Mars.jpg

"Blond Knight of Germany" is too doubtfull, even that is a good read. Not a big Hartmanns fan lately.

V!
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Health_Angel
02-06-2004, 02:31 PM
without any doubt H.-J. Marseille

-Health Angel-

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MiloMorai
02-06-2004, 02:46 PM
No mention of Osau?

Herbert Rollwage who shot down more 'furniture vans' than any other LW ace.

Herman-Freidrich Joppien who had 25 victories during BoB.

Jochim Brendel (189)

Anton Hafner(204)

Gordon Gollab(350 missions-150 'kills')

Nasen Muller(52 night missions-30 'kills')

Just some others for consideration.



Long live the Horse Clans.

J30Vader
02-06-2004, 03:30 PM
Rollwage ( 44 four engine bombers )
Schnaufer ( 121 night victories )
Scheel ( 70 sorties, 71 kills )

BP_caocao
02-06-2004, 03:44 PM
Not the top scorer but I'm partial to Steinhoff. Mostly I guess because of his writings and I know more about him than most of the other LW pilots.

horseback
02-06-2004, 04:21 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Bremspropeller:
Erich Rudorffer


13 kills in one sortie...



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<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
Brem:

I posted this about a month ago in an earlier thread that led to discussion of the skill levels of the experten relative to guys with only 40-50 sorties.

-Another account in "The Eagles' War" by Vern Haugland, tells of an incident in N. Africa describes eight Spitfires of 92 Squadron getting caught low and slow by a pair of experten. Haugland quotes Leo Nomis, an American in the RAF who was flying one of the Spits (probably Mk Vc Trops with that big air dam Vokes' filter under the nose; he mentioned that they flew without the canopy attached, because the perspex only got dusty and scratched) as a Number 4 in a line-astern formation:

"The two 109s bounced the eight of us, and the altitude varied between 1,000 and 3,000 feet above the flat terrain as they began what proved to be a series of individual attacks. The words clueful, for clever, and clueless, for stupid, were in overuse with the RAF at that time. Clueful would be to describe these 109s, particularly the leader. The two German pilots provided a classic example of deflection shooting, and of how a 109 should be effectively used against a Spitfire.

"They kept their advantage of speed and altitude at all times; they never allowed themselves to become a target; they attacked individually and yet in unison; and it wasn't more than a minute before they had us all over the sky and split up into sections of two. My first vivid recollection after being split up was of being in a climbing turn right on the tail of the South African and observing two Spitfires about a mile off rolling over and hitting the ground, one afte the other, leaving great towers of black smoke in the blue air. These proved to be another South African and an English sergeant pilot, victims of a lightning overhead pass by the 109 leader, who seemed a positive wizard at this.

"The instant tragedy caused everyone to start yelling at once over the R/T (receiver transmitter), and an insane garble was the result. Meanwhile, the 109s were far from breaking off the attack. In retrospect, it seemed as if we had been catapulted into a nightmare, with the two 109s the central supernatural characters. It seemed unreal that two 109s could possibly achieve the systematic destruction of eight Spitfires."

He goes on to describe the only successful tactic they had,turning inside the 109s, but since they could not do so with equal speed, they couldn't get into shooting position on their enemies. He then mentions that he had become above average as a defensive flyer some time before, and:

"Now, on this morning, it was really put to the test. I had tried to keep both 109s in sight, and it wasn't easy. I was hanging on the tail of the South African, Charlie Hewitson, as RAF discipline required to the death. It was unpardonable for a No. 2 man to forsake his leader.

"The next event in the drama also shook us to the teeth. Rose, the Australian, was gibbering wildly on the R/T that our petrol was getting low, the fact of which we were all acutely aware. He and his No. 2 had cut across Hewitson and me and were about 500 feet above and 1,000 yards ahead when they received a 90-degree deflection burst from one of the 109s. Nothing seemed to happen for a moment, and then the No. 2, a Canadian sergeant, began to stream a thin but very visible vapor of petrol.

"I was watching this as though it were a film unfolding before me in a cinema. From previous experiances I knew that petrol vapor usually signalled an impending explosion. Just as I was thinking this the Spitfire did explode. Pieces of various sizes fell back toward us, and the engine plummeted straight down.

"We were in another climbing turn, and I remember a large piece of wing spinning by, and then the horror of seeing the pilot's body falling down and away past our wingtips. The clearest memory I have of that moment is that the body seemed to be leaving a trail of papers in its wake as it fell away and became smaller and smaller. Probably these were maps and charts that had been tucked into the man's boots. I watched fascinated for a second more and saw no parachute open."

Nomis and his leader managed to avoid getting shot down on the leader's next pass, and:

"As suddenly as it began, the shambles ended. We had been trying to circle back to the British lines. Not only were we low on petrol, but everyone had little ammunition remaining (they had shot up a truck column earlier in the mission). Then the 019s were gone, almost as if they had been phantoms. They must also have run short of petrol, or God knows how it would have ended. The five of us remaining made our way back to base, saturated with perspiration."

This event occured about a month after Marseille's death, or they would have assumed that he was the 109 leader. Later on they were told that it was most likely Eric Rudorffer.

Cheers

horseback

"Here's your new Mustangs, boys. You can learn to fly'em on the way to the target. Cheers!" -LTCOL Don Blakeslee, 4th FG CO, February 27th, 1944

Wetwilly87
02-06-2004, 04:38 PM
Hartmann of course, He just had very good tactics for a fighter pilot, he would only attack if he knew he had a chance of victory or kill.

http://www.kitreview.com/reviews/images/re2005bookreviewbg_1.jpg "The beautiful fighter of the war"

F19_Olli72
02-06-2004, 04:44 PM
Depends how you define "best", for instance most kills? Then it would be Hartmann i guess.

Marseille? Perhaps, but according to Steinhoff he was a really irresponsible pilot who got a few of his wingmen killed when he went after a kill for himself. Many pilots disliked & refused to fly with him cause of that.

As a counterpart Rall seems to be more sympathetic, if a rotteleader showed signs of this kind of behaviour he was made to fly wingman. (dont remember the source but it was an interview with Rall)

But one name i dont find in this thread is Werner M√¬∂lders, a great tactician who really helped develop LW tactics in spain and early in the war. Also the first to reach the magic score of 100.

dragonhart38
02-06-2004, 05:07 PM
Eric Hartmann 352 kills. Strike Rate 4.05
Strike rate number is how many sorties (that made contact with the enemy) it took before the pilot downed one enemy aircraft. Thus for Hartmann it took him on average 4 sorties to down an enemy aircraft. On the other hand there was Gunther Scheel his strike rate was an astounding .99 meaning for every sortie he made in which contact with the enemy was made he almost always downed and enemy a/c. Talk about a dead eye.

I have the SR's for the Luftwaffe experten if you want to know your favourite pilots strike rate. I got this information from Mike Spick's Luftwaffe Fighter Aces.

http://www.elleemmeshop.com/model1/Hann_a/eduard/EDK4827.jpg
The best of the best

acklington
02-06-2004, 05:45 PM
Mike Spick's "Luftwaffe Fighter Aces" gives Hartmann as 352 kills and Gerhard Barkhorn as 301 kills. Gunter Rall is third with 275. A book worth reading.

Regards
Acklington

Chuck_Older
02-06-2004, 07:23 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by LeadSpitter_:
the germans got credit for a strafed plane as enemy shotdown. The us did also

<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

US pilots got credit for strafing kills up to a certain point in the war. After that, a strafed plane was not a kill, a victory had to be acheived in the air. There is a little known pilot, an American who flew for the Chinese/American Combat Wing (CACW) and the 5th and 3rd FGs, named Thomas Reynolds. He was a Major, and he was not an ace, although he destroyed 38 aircraft on the ground and 4 in the air. He would have had 42 victories to Bong's 40 if strafing counted. And today he is almost unknown.

*****************************
the sergeant will for, his sergeant's pay, obey the captain 'till his dying day~ Clash

horseback
02-06-2004, 08:39 PM
Actually, early in the war, a number of German aces had their kill bars in the shape of up or down pointing arrows, to indicate an aircraft destroyed on the ground or in the air. Balthasar, Galland's mentor in his JG 27 days, and Franz von Werra of JG 3, appear to have followed this practice on their Emils.

It doesn't appear to have lasted past the BoB, though. Stationary targets are for bombers, after all.

Cheers

horseback

"Here's your new Mustangs, boys. You can learn to fly'em on the way to the target. Cheers!" -LTCOL Don Blakeslee, 4th FG CO, February 27th, 1944

rummyrum
02-06-2004, 09:04 PM
Marseille

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9./JG54 Rummy

Kampfmeister
02-06-2004, 09:48 PM
To me the best one would still be Hartmann, not only for the number of kills, but also for the fact that he survived 10 1/2 years in a Soviet Gulag and told them where they could stick their vodka http://ubbxforums.ubi.com/images/smiley/mockface.gif

-Marseille for his superb marksmanship.

-Rall for his skill in deflection shooting.

- Barkhorn and Steinhoff for their skill and personalities.

-Moelders and Galland for their dedication to the fighter arm.

-Schnaufer for his skill as a night fighter.

etc. etc. etc.

Erbogast-v.K
02-07-2004, 07:01 AM
well said Kampfmeister!!!!

Here are the the aces I prefer: http://members.rogers.com/***uto/German_Aces.htm

No one is missing.
A bunch of guys who deserve boundless respect...

Kampfmeister
02-07-2004, 07:12 AM
Thanks Erbogast for your comment and the fine link http://ubbxforums.ubi.com/images/smiley/16x16_smiley-happy.gif

Bremspropeller
02-07-2004, 09:17 AM
Thanks for sharing the strory horseback, but I doubt that one of the 109s was flown by Rudorffer, 'cause he flew the 190A-4 (6./JG2) in north africa at that time. http://ubbxforums.ubi.com/images/smiley/16x16_smiley-wink.gif



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LW_Fellfrosch
02-07-2004, 09:31 AM
I'm partial to Adolf Galland as well. I think the sole reason why he only scored 104 kills is because after his appointment as General of Fighters he flew a desk mostly. If he had been a deployed combat pilot for the entire war, I think he could have matched Hartmann in kills.

Plus, just have to admire a guy who can get shot down in the morning, get back in a plane in the afternoon, and get shot down again.. Twice in one day.. ouch http://ubbxforums.ubi.com/images/smiley/16x16_smiley-happy.gif

Awake74
02-07-2004, 10:13 AM
(This is my thinking)
First, it is better to consider how many staffs are required to work 1Plane. What role team was required for one LW? . For example, a pilot and a maintenance person in charge need close cooperation every day.
As mentioned above, he himself regards surviving ACE as not calling I am best ace.
Germany is strict to the number of enemy plane shooting down, it should understand by the official record (if shooting down number equal Ace).
Ace definition is difficult. i think ace is not only one pilot in each country .

(Although it is a digression, in Japan, the number of individual shooting down was not authorized, but was recorded as each kokutai. In Rabaul, about 1000 staffs must have been in one Kokutai which have 36 planes.)

DONB3397
02-07-2004, 10:51 AM
Take your pick: Marseille, Hartmann, Barkhorn.

For me, Marseille, the so-called "Star of Africa" has always been the most interesting. Stats: 158 kills, almost all of them in less than a year (154 against fighters, not slower bombers); 17 in one day...against the RAF.

He seems to have been undisciplined in a time when that was not acceptable. He broke formation without communicating, he tended to attack without taking time to set up, and he was generally 'disrespectful' of command. For a time, he was assigned to JG 52 under Maki Steinhoff (before it went to the Eastern front). Steinhoff kicked him out because he 'lacked self-discipline in the air.'

So he was the "James Dean" of the LW. But with JG 27 in Africa, he seemed to grow. One account reads, "Watching him was like watching a magician. What he did was done in plain sight, but it was often impossible to tell just how he did it...took virtually impossible, high-angle deflection shots and scored with short bursts of fire. Ground crews were constantly amazed by how little ammunition he used to dispatch enemy planes."

He died September 30, 1942, long before Hartmann started his run. Hartmann was said to be deliberate, to pick his fights and set up for every attack. Different style. But it would be hard to argue with his success (352 kills and 1400+ missions).

Barkhorn flew with Marseille when JG 52 was still in France, and was on the Eastern front a year before Hartmann arrived and already had 70 or so kills. One could argue that his early victories in the East were against outmoded VVS planes and inexperienced pilots. But, as we know from these threads, it's possible to argue almost anything.

Winning isn't everything;
It's the only thing!
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VikingViper
02-07-2004, 11:28 AM
I would have to say Erich Hartmann too, and this is why (warning! long post):

From early childhood, Erich Hartman displayed a remarkably affinity for flying, an interest that was encouraged by his mother. Elisabeth Hartmann
was an enthusiastic pilot and the instructor of a boy's glider club, and had taught her son to fly a glider at the age of 14. One year later, Erich too had become a licensed instructor, for the Glider Group of the Hitler Youth.

When Hartmann graduaded from secondary school in 1940, he enlisted in the Luftwaffe. After basic training, he was assigned to become a fighter pilot. At gunnery school, his talent for marksmanship with an Me 109's machine guns amazed his superior officers. Then, when he was 20 years old, he was posted to the Eastern Front.

Erich Hartmann's first air battle over the Caucasus Mountains in October of 1942, was an almost unmitigated disaster. Flying as wingman to an experienced leader, he panicked, mistook his leader's Me 109 for a Russian fighter and fled. He climaxed the sortie by crashlanding, destroying his aircraft.

Chagrined, Hartmann set out to improve his perfomance. For the next few months, he flew with some of his squadron's best aces, observing their flying styles and evolving his own techniques. Gradually he trained himself to close within 150 feet of the enemy before firing, the hazardous but sure-fire tactic that became his trademark.

On November 5, 1942, he made his first kill, and soon his score began to climb, 90 downed planes by the end of August 1943, 115 a month later and 148 by the end of October, when he received the Knight's Cross. Higher orders of the award followed, the Oak Leaves after his 200th victory in March 1944, the Swords after his 239th in July, and the coveted Diamonds after his 301st,in August. With his 300th kill, Hartmann became the world's top-scoring ace.

When awarding Hartmann the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds, Hitler told him that he was now too important to be risked in combat on the Eastern Front. Therefore he was being transferred to a special fighter unit that was testing the revolutionary Me 262.

But Hartmann believed that he could best serve his country in its desperate fights against the Soviets, and he managed to persuade G√¬∂ring to cancel his orders and return him to active service in the East. G√¬∂ring complied, and Hartmann soon became the commander of Gruppe No. 1 of Jagdgeschwader 52. Leading his pilots in their final defense of the retreating Germany Army, he raised his total victories to 352.

When Germany fell to the Allies on May 8, 1945, Hartmann surrended to the Americans, who handed him over to the Russians, who sent him to a prison camp deep within the Soviet Union. He was held captive there for 10.5 years. Hartmann found that he was sorely tested. At first he was offered a position in the East German air force. He refused, and was sentenced to 25 years' hard labor.

Finally in 1955, West Germanu affected his release and Hartmann returned home to a hero's welcome. Three years later, he was chosen to command the West German air force's first all-jet fighter wing. As the leader of Jagdgeschwader 71, Hartmann made several visits to the United States. There, while learning to fly the latest U.S.-built jets, the ace of aces shared with the young American fighter pilots the priceless experience of his 825 air battles.

Sorry for the long post, but hope you liked the reading if you read it through. All the info can be found in the great book Epic of flight series "The Luftwaffe".

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wayno7777
02-07-2004, 02:13 PM
This is a tough one as all bests are. I use Hartmann as my avatar. I would rate him as one of the top ten any day. He is a human interest story in any day and age. Marseille, definately. Rall and Barkhorn, definately. Galland said that Marseille would have been the best. How to rate really, when over one hundred pilots had over one hundred victories each.

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