Luftwaffe Aces

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Luftwaffe Aces

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jul. 5, 2009, 7:40 pm

About to finish Horrido! (Fighter Aces of the Luftwaffe); kind of a sugary hagiography, methinks.

Editat: jul. 7, 2009, 2:53 pm

If you are looking for an unvarnished story try Alert in the West by Willi Heilmann. A wonderful first person account of the last year on the western front from D-Day to surrender. Quite how the German fighter pilots kept their morale with such devastating losses is amazing. Written by an ace who clearly loved flying. One of the best stories around from 'the other side.'

jul. 10, 2009, 12:19 am

Another couple of recommendations:

The First and the Last ( by Adolf Galland - an extremely interesting take on World War II aerial warfare, and contains a first-hand account of Galland's famous "squadron of Spitfires" remark to Goerring.

Spitfire on my Tail by Ulrich Steinhilper - the Battle of Britain from the point of view of a young Luftwaffe lieutenant. Also very interesting in that Steinhilper served under Galland and did not agree with many of Galland's points of view. Followed by the sequels Ten Minutes to Buffalo and Full Circle: The Long Way Home from Canada.

des. 4, 2009, 6:35 pm

Have just finished 'JG 54: Jagdgeschwader 54 Grunherz: Aces of the Eastern Front' (1992) by Jerry Scutts. This is a good history of the German Air Force Fighter Wing #54 and their experiences on the Eastern Front, and the Channel Front during the Battle of Britain. One thing that stood out was the mention of 'Channel Fever', a stress related psychosomatic disorder which was the flying equivalent of Combat Fatigue. Because the air battles were often conducted over the English Channel, there was extra stress for the German pilots who had to consider the water beneath them as an extra enemy. Even if the fight was over Britain, the German pilots still had to be concerned about being able to recross the Channel with low fuel levels, damage to the aircraft or personal wounds. The symptoms were abdominal cramps (irritable bowel syndrome), vomiting, loss of appetite and extreme irritability. The only cure was rotation of pilots to new assignments, rest periods or grounding.
They started the war with Heinkel 51 and Fiat CR 20 biplanes and ended it flying mostly the most advanced models of the Fock-Wolf 190 radial engine fighter, including the fighter-bomber version, the 'Jabo'. In the last stages of the war they were tasked with escorting the Messerschmidt 262 "Swallow' twin-jet fighters which were attacking the American bomber fleets. In December of 1944, the German Air Force lost no less than 535 pilots killed, wounded and missing, along with their aircraft. By this time in the war the supply of aircraft by German factories was sufficient to replace aircraft almost as fast as they were lost, but the new pilots coming to replace those lost were minimally trained, with far too few flying hours behind them. Despite this they did fairly well, while vastly outnumbered, against superior Allied aircraft such as the P-51 Mustang, the Spitfire type XI and the British Tempest, as well as the P-47 Thunderbolt fighter.
Their final roll-call took place in September of 1945 as POW s.
One interesting feature was a photo of Finnish Ace pilot Capt. Eino Lunkkanen, who survived the war. I enjoyed his book 'Fighter over Finland (1963).

des. 15, 2011, 9:25 pm

Have been reading 'THE GERMAN ACES SPEAK' (2011) and found it to be intriguing as they describe the incredibly high number of victories in aerial combat that the German pilots achieved. A single fighter Wing of the Luftwaffe destroyed no less that 11,000 enemy aircraft during the course of the war, and the Luftwaffe had no less than 104 pilots with with over 100 victories each. The top scorer had an unbelievable 352 victories. These fellows had no peer in aerial combat!

des. 20, 2011, 3:53 pm

that score 'dates' from the Cold War....looked at a little more critically 'only' 289 of Hartmann's 'victories' were in fact 'officially confirmed' before the German claims sytem broke down in early 1945. Secondly, only 307 of his supposed claims had even been 'officially' filed before the end of the war..third, some Russian historians credit him with less than 100 victories..more here