Friday, June 21, 2013

The Friday Flyby - 21 June

Focke Wulf FW-190
I'm going to do something a little different this Friday. I'm going to feature the Deutsches Luftwaffe. That's right, the German Air Force of World War II. Specifically the Jagdflieger, the fighter pilots and their aircraft. Many of their aircraft were iconic. Many of their pilots are remembered as the highest scoring aces of all time.

Their cause was evil, but young men do not often get to choose their cause. You are born into your circumstances and you make the best of it. You serve.

I envision a series here. Because the pilots of World War II are fading into history. As are all of the veterans of that war. American, British, Japanese, Russian, Polish, French, and many others. Let's remember them all.

Messerschmidt ME-109
Oberst Werner Mölders
1913 - 1941

100 Aerial Victories

FW-190
ME-109
General der Jagdflieger Adolf Galland
1912 - 1996
104 Aerial Victories

(Seven in the ME-262)
Messerschmidt ME-262
FW-190

Generalleutnant Gerhard Barkhorn
1919 - 1983
301 Aerial Victories
Generalleutnant Günther Rall
1918 - 2009
275 Aerial Victories
ME-262
Hauptmann Hans-Joachim Marseille
1919 - 1942
158 Aerial Victories

And finally the Ace of Aces, the highest scoring fighter ace of all time.

Oberst Erich Hartmann
1922 - 1993
352 Aerial Victories

Next time, the men they fought against...

10 comments:

  1. Great post. I had Me-109s and FW-190s hanging from my ceiling as a kid... being chased by Mustangs and Jugs.

    I've often wondered about the credibility of the victories claimed by the German fighter aces. I mean... 352 kills? That boggles the mind.

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    1. A lot of research was done post-war with the unspoken intent of bringing down those kill numbers for the Germans. No one in the West could believe the German pilots were that good. (The guys who actually flew against them knew they were that good. The suits at HQ were counting beans, as they always have and always will.)

      Many of those high kill totals were racked up on the Eastern Front. It's not that Russian pilots were bad (in fact some were very good, their kill totals were higher than any Western ace) it's just that there were so many of them. What you'd call a "target rich environment".

      Marseille's victories were all in the West, which really impressed many. And those 352 of Hartmann's? He and his wingman were jumped over Rumania (IIRC) by one (maybe two) flights of USAAF P-51 Mustangs. Both Hartmann and his wingman were flying obsolescent ME-109s, far outclassed by the Mustang.

      Hartmann and his wingman returned safely to base. Most of the P-51s did not.

      Hartmann was that good. Many is the time he proved the rule that an excellent pilot in a mediocre aircraft will beat a mediocre pilot any day of the week, regardless of what the mediocre pilot is flying.

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  2. Excellent posting. And a fair and honest appraisal of the great quality of the German aviators. Although not a combat pilot we shouldn't forget Hanna Reitsch. She was only woman awarded the Iron Cross First Class and the Luftwaffe Pilot/Observer Badge in Gold with Diamonds during World War II. Had she been allowed to join a Jagdstaffel (fighter squadron) I believe she would rank right up with the aviators in this article for the number of victories.

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    1. Hanna Reitsch was an amazing pilot.

      Hhmm, may be a future post there, you've given me an idea Toejam. Thank you!

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    2. No sweat Old AF Sarge,

      An ancient member of Uncle Sam's Misguied Children is always ready to help out an airdale! :)

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    3. Just so you know, Marines are always welcome here.

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    4. Just forgive my occasional "misspellings", Old AF Sarge.

      Dyslexia, dementia, early stage Alzheimers?

      Not sure which (or all of the above) but my 71 year old brain is getting kinda foggy.

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    5. As I get older I find I misspell fewer words, but the number of typos has increased by an order of magnitude.

      (Hint, blame the keyboard Toejam, it's what I do!)

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  3. You have the best-looking blog on the web! Very impressive.

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