Hajo Herrmann: Condor Legion pilot, Inspector General of night fighters, Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross winner
Hans-Joachim Herrmann, whose Luftwaffe career stretched from being a bomber pilot in the Condor Legion in the Spanish civil war to being the Inspector General of night fighters, has passed away. He was the last living winner of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords.
Rudy Opitz: Test pilot for the Me-163 rocket powered interceptor aircraft
1941-1945 Paul Rudolf (Rudy) Opitz was the chief military test pilot for the Me-163A and Me-163B rocket powered interceptor aircraft. He made the first powered flight of the Me-163B, the only rocket powered interceptor aircraft ever to achieve operational status. The Me-163 Komet was a tailless rocket powered interceptor and the fastest aircraft to see combat in World World Two. After the war he was recruited by the U.S., coming to the U.S. as a part of operation Paperclip, the U.S. operation that relocated Dr. Wernher von Braun, Dr. Anselm Franz, and other Nazi Scientists to the U.S.A.
German ace Günther Rall was the third-highest-scoring fighter ace of all time with 275 aerial victories
Generalleutnant Günther Rall, who has passed away at 91, was one of the few leading Nazi aces to survive World War II; he was the third-highest-scoring aces with 275 kills. In 1941 Rall was a squadron commander in Jagdgeschwader (fighter wing) JG-52 flying the Messerschmitt Bf 109 in Romania. By this time Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union were at war and Russian bombers were attacking the oil refineries. In 5 days Rall's group downed 50 Soviet bombers and were next sent to the Eastern Front where Rall's victories mounted quickly against the inferior Soviet planes. In postwar years he was one of the founding fathers of the German Air Force, becoming its chief.
German fighter ace Doug Zellmer at the Experimental Aircraft Association AirVenture in Oshkosh
We read about World War II in history books and see it through a camera lens on a documentary. If we're lucky we can experience history first-hand from someone who was there when it happened. People at the Experimental Aircraft Association AirVenture in Oshkosh got a real treat when WW2 German fighter ace Lt. Gen. Gunther Rall gave them a history lesson during a Warbirds in Review gathering. He flew a Messerschmitt BF 109 for the Luftwaffe and shot down 275 planes - almost all on the Eastern Front. Rall talked to Adolf Hitler three times: The first time was just as the German 6th Army advanced across the Russian steppe toward Stalingrad.
Ken Adam: The only German to serve as a pilot in the RAF during World War II
Before Ken Adam was Ken Adam, he was Keith Adam - and before that Klaus Adam. And he is the only German who served as a pilot in the Royal Air Force during World War II. As a Sergeant Pilot in 609 Squadron, flying Typhoon fighter-bombers on low-level strikes, he would have been put in front of a firing squad if caught and id'ed. Jewish-born and owner of a German passport, he was to the Nazis a traitor. 10,000 men and women from Germany and Austria served in British uniform during the war. "I felt quite pleased about the outbreak of war. I hated the Nazis and was absolutely convinced that I was fortunate to be able to do some damage to that regime."
Günther Rall: Last German ace and holder of the Knight's Cross with Swords
Germany's only surviving WWII ace is to travel to UK to meet with RAF Battle of Britain heroes. Günther Rall is thought to be the last-surviving holder of the Knight's Cross with Swords, Third Reich's highest award for valour. He was presented with the medal from Adolf Hitler who he met 3 times on acocunt of his exploits in shooting down 275 Russian, British and American planes. General Rall became Germany's first postwar head of the Luftwaffe. His Viennese wife Hertha came under the Gestapo probe because she helped Jews escape to Britain after the Nazi Anschluss in 1938. "Many RAF fliers became my friends after the war. They were all gentlemen of the skies."
The life of B-17 pilot Charlie Brown was saved by Nazi ace Franz Stigler
Dec 1943, Charlie Brown was piloting a B-17 over Nazi Germany when the plane took heavy fire: nose was shot off, engines damaged. Spiraling toward earth with a dead tail gunner and 9 other crew members, Brown (shot in the shoulder) regained control of the craft, broke formation and continued to take on German fighters. Then a Nazi pilot, flying a Messerschmitt Bf-109, motioned for Brown to land his badly damaged plane. Brown shook his head. Instead of shooting down the bomber, the Nazi pilot escorted Brown to the North Sea, saluted, rolled his plane in tribute and flew off. In 1986 Brown finally identified the Nazi pilot: Franz Stigler (487 flights, 28 kills).
Iron Cross awarded Luftwaffe pilot crashes near city he bombed in WWII
A decorated Luftwaffe pilot who did 120 bombing raids on UK has escaped unharmed after a crash near the city he once bombarded. Willi Schludecker, a survivor of 9 wartime crashes, was a passenger in a 4-man Mooney M20T when the engine failed after take-off at Marshfield in Wiltshire. Schludecker, who carried out 3 raids on Bath in his Dornier 217E-4 in 1942, returned to the city in April 2008 to publicly apologise. During his visit he struck up a friendship with Chris Kilminster, who explained that "The flight was a thank you to me for organising the event." The average survival time for a German bomber was only 7 missions.
Bill Pearce befriends German pilot who shot down his Lancaster bomber
Bill Pearce has come face to face with the German Walter Telsnig, who shot down his plane in Feb. 1945. Pearce was the wireless operator on a bombing mission when his Lancaster bomber was hit by 20mm cannon fire from Telsnig's Messerschmitt. One of 4 survivors from the crew of 7, Pearce spent 5 days on the run, before he was captured and handed over to the Luftwaffe. Even though Telsnig had tried to kill him, Pearce said they were now "mates". "At the time it was war and he was doing what he was ... trained to do and so was I." Pearce travelled to Salzburg for the meeting: the two men spent hours talking and swapping war stories.
Nazi pilot Franz Stigler escorted B-17 bomber with injured crew safely out of Nazi Germany
Franz Stigler achieved 28 allied kills in World War II. On Dec. 20, 1943, American pilot Charles Brown was flying his first mission in B-17 bomber. He had just delivered his bombs on a German aircraft factory when he was attacked by German fighters. His 4-engine bomber was severely damaged: 3 engines weren't working, and 7 of 10 crew member were wounded. Brown had a bullet fragment in his shoulder. "I went after him to finish him off," Stigler said. But when Stigler got close enough to see Brown's bleeding wounds, he understood he couldn't shoot. Instead he guided the B-17 out of Nazi Germany.
P-47 pilot James Finnegan shot down Nazi Ace Adolf Gallant
James Finnegan, a young fighter pilot flying his P-47, found himself in a dogfight - And at the end of it he downed the top German ace Adolf Galland flying Messerschmitt Me 262 jet. Finnegan was escorting Allied bombers when he "saw two objects come zipping through the formation, and 2 bombers blew up immediately. I watched the two objects go through the bomber formation, and thought, 'It's got to be one of the 262 jets.'" Galland managed to land his crippled Me-262 jet, and years later the two pilots became friends, visiting each other to swap WWII stories.
Mystery solved: German fighter ace Horst Rippert shot down Antoine de Saint-Exupery
"If I had known it was Saint-Exupery I would never have shot him down." German fighter ace Horst Rippert shot down Antoine de Saint-Exupery, a pioneer aviator known for his book "The Little Prince." He said he had been flying a Messerschmitt Me-109 near Toulon on July 31, 1944, when he spotted Saint-Exupery's twin-tailed Lightning. "I saw his markings and manoeuvred myself behing him and shot him down." Rippert, 28 victories in WWII, only found out for sure recently who it was he had killed, when he was tracked down by Luc Vanrell and Lino van Gartzen, authors of "Saint-Exupery, the last secret."
Body of Luftwaffe fighter pilot ace Kurt Niederhagen found
After the rescue of the Messerschmitt BF-109 in Concordia Saggitaria, also the remains of the German pilot shot down by US fighters on January 30th, 1944, have been identified as Obfdw (Major Marshal) Kurt Niederhagen. He was Luftwaffe ace with 17 shooting-downs to his credit and and holder of the Iron Cross medal. The researchers of the GRSA determined the belonging of the pilot to the 1st Group of the 77th Fighter Wing, taken off that morning to intercept American bombers. Furious air combats took place in the skies over Friuli and 30 airplanes were lost that day on both sides.
WWII Luftwaffe pilot Klaus Gerlach - "Thank God for General Patton"
Klaus Gerlach, a fighter pilot in Nazi Germany's Luftwaffe who shot down 13 planes and who was shot down 3 times himself, died at 83. In first 2 crashes, he escaped serious injury, but in 1945 he crash-landed his Focke-Wulf 190 fighter. Knocked out when the plane's radio rammed his head, he was pulled from the wreckage by farmers and taken to a military hospital. When he came out of a coma, Gerlach found that Americans under Gen. George Patton had taken over. He often said "Thank God for General Patton!" He was credited with flying 250 missions, and awarded the Iron Cross medal. "Once you stayed alive through 50 missions, you knew something about air-to-air combat."
Remains of Bf 109 Flying Ace Sgt. Maximilian Volke Recovered
Researchers has located the remains and plane of a German ace Flight Sgt. Maximilian Volke - a Munich-born pilot credited with shooting down 37 planes - shot down during World War II. They also discovered some personal effects, including the dog tag and good luck charms the pilot carried into combat. Searchers located the plane after narrowing their area based on information from state archives and eyewitness accounts of the ace's final air battle in 1944, said Leo Venieri, president of Romagna Air Finders, a group that scours for signs of missing WWII pilots. Volke's Messerschmitt Bf 109 was dug out of a farmer's field north of Modena.
Robert Smith shot down Nazi Germany's flying ace Gerhard Vogt (Article no longer available from the original source)
Robert Smith was a World War II fighter pilot who shot down one of Nazi Germany's flying aces during an aerial battle. It was 62 years ago that Smith, as an Army Air Forces lieutenant, shot down the German FW-190 plane. But it wasn't until 2001 that he learned the identity of the downed pilot through a WWII researcher. The pilot was Lt. Gerhard Vogt, who had been credited with 48 destroyed American planes in 174 combat flights. Smith had to chase the Luftwaffe pilot low through a fog bank over Cologne. "We were bouncing in and out of the fog bank and my wingman was giving me directions from 1,000 feet above me, where he could see the shadows of both planes..."
Battle of Britain Messerschmitt lost in a cloud of Indian mystery
Only the swastika on the tail remained to identify the pile of rusting metal as one of the most sought after relics of World War II. The discovery of a Luftwaffe Messerschmitt that fought in the Battle of Britain was considered one of the most remarkable finds in aviation history. But within months the aircraft had disappeared. Now The Times has learnt that the aircraft is being restored in East Sussex. The Messerschmitt Bf 109E-1 was undamaged when Xavier Ray was forced to land in Lower Hardres on Nov 2, 1940. "He stated that his aircraft, works number 4034, had given trouble yesterday..."
Ex-Luftwaffe Junkers 88 bomber pilot Wolfgang Kaupisch to be U.S. citizen
64 years ago, Wolfgang Kaupisch was a lieutenant in the German Luftwaffe, dropping bombs on Americans in England. Two years later, he was involved in an assassination attempt on his führer, Adolf Hitler. In 1940, Nazi Germany unleashed attacks against Belgium, Luxembourg, Holland and France - and Kaupisch's anti-aircraft unit was with them. During the fighting, he was granted an Iron Cross Second Class when his artillery pieces helped sink a British destroyer, and an Iron Cross First Class when the artillery silenced a French machine gun. In Oct 1941, he flew his first combat mission, as a co-pilot and navigator on a Junkers 88 bomber.
1994 interview with Luftwaffe General and Ace Pilot Adolf Galland
When historians talk about pilots and the history of air combat, certain names come up sooner or later: Manfred von Richthofen, Erich Hartmann... and Adolf Galland. Galland was the youngest general grade officer of either side in World War II, and at age 29 he was more skilled in aerial combat, strategy and tactics than many of the experts almost twice his age. A holder of the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds, Galland died in 1995. --- Galland: After one year of training as a commercial pilot I was strongly "invited" to join the "Black Air Force" (the undercover air force Germany was training prior to Adolf Hitler's rise to power).