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Who was the best pilot in WW2?

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I recently red the Hans Ulrich Rudel's book about his career as a stukapilot in the eastfront.

He's record makes many virtualpilots pale.

- 2,530 combat missions.

- 518+ tanks knocked out

- 700 Trucks

- 150+ Flak and Artillery positions

- 9 Fighter/Ground Attack Aircraft, one IL-2 shot down with the Ju 87-g2:s cannon

- Hundreds of bridges, railway lines, bunkers, etc.

- Battleship October Revolution, Cruiser Marat, and 70 landing craft

- Shot down 32 times.

- Innumerable aircraft brought back to base that were later written off, due to heavy combat damage.

- Wounded on many occasions, including the partial amputation of his right leg in the Spring of 45, after which he continued to fly with a prosthetic limb.

Can you find a pilot with better record?

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Not with a better record or determination since he continued flying even after having his right leg shot off... but not the best pilot. IMHO, the best (as in most talented) pilot was Hans Joachim Marseille, although I would agree that Rudel ranks up there.

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I recently red the Hans Ulrich Rudel's book about his career as a stukapilot in the eastfront.

He's record makes many virtualpilots pale.

- 2,530 combat missions.

- 518+ tanks knocked out

- 700 Trucks

- 150+ Flak and Artillery positions

- 9 Fighter/Ground Attack Aircraft, one IL-2 shot down with the Ju 87-g2:s cannon

- Hundreds of bridges, railway lines, bunkers, etc.

- Battleship October Revolution, Cruiser Marat, and 70 landing craft

- Shot down 32 times.

- Innumerable aircraft brought back to base that were later written off, due to heavy combat damage.

- Wounded on many occasions, including the partial amputation of his right leg in the Spring of 45, after which he continued to fly with a prosthetic limb.

Can you find a pilot with better record?

how did they confirm all those numbers?

oh, what the pilot said...

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how did they confirm all those numbers?

oh, what the pilot said...

Well, in that case you would have to throw out every pilots kill tally's beause it was "what pilots said." Hell... if we are on that road, how about we discount Alexander the Great's achievments because it was really just "what he said" through the words of his personal propagandist, Callisthenes.

Apart from such a preposterous position which means we would have to discount nearly all oral history, Rudel was well know among both the German high command as well as the Soviets.

First off, the Knights Cross w/Gold Swords, Oakleaves and Diamonds was something that was created yes, created, specifically for Rudel because the Germans had run out of suitable awards to give him. He is the first and believe one of 3 (or was it five) that hold such an award. Sorry, but you don't have the German military create a special award for you if you are nothing but a nobody pilot that has been fibbing all along about his success record on the Eastern front.

Second, his kills were confirmed by his wingmen (yes amazing... he didn't fly alone) - again, we can assume they are all lying. But in that case we need to throw out all our history books.

And finally, Rudel convinced the Luftwaffe to let his Stuka squadron remain operational. Long after all the Stukas had been deactivated, Rudel was allowed to fly in a single squadron of his own until the very end of the war where he surrendered his squadron to the Americans in 1945. Let me guess... he was given the special priviledge of flying his own specialist squadron because he had made up all of his victories.... right.

And then come the Soviets who knew him very well. You don't get a 10,000 Ruble (IIRC) reward put on your head by the Red Army to anyone who brings him in if you have been making everything up.

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Hes number 1 in the list of LW tank killers. He flew in St.G. 3, St.G. 2 and SG 2 if you didnt know. :)

Hedkvist, the numbers can sway some, but they did have strict rules on how to confirm kills.

That was then, and now is now. If you go read a good book by good authers and read the sources etc you can see that they compare battle reports from both sides, meaning you will get the most accurate numbers. From war files and later digging in the archives you can get pretty accurate with air2air and ground kills.

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hhehe sorry mate, I didnt say it was wrong, but lets not masturbate over all the facts you (you as in general) reading about ww2. Or anything historical.

I didnt mean to make it sound like its wrong.

Its just that I am very sceptical about pilots kill numbers in ww2. Allied or axis.

edit: answer was to aismov.

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Hes number 1 in the list of LW tank killers. He flew in St.G. 3, St.G. 2 and SG 2 if you didnt know. :)

Hedkvist, the numbers can sway some, but they did have strict rules on how to confirm kills.

That was then, and now is now. If you go read a good book by good authers and read the sources etc you can see that they compare battle reports from both sides, meaning you will get the most accurate numbers. From war files and later digging in the archives you can get pretty accurate with air2air and ground kills.

I know, I have read some books. I used to work at f21 and we argued about stuff like this all the time. Even the pilots had some doubts. :)

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who was that german pilot who never go shot down and was killed in a air accident? i think i heard of one..?

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'best pilot' is perhaps the wrong term to use. 'most successful' might be better.

Rudel defintely stands out as the worlds most successful ground attack pilot but he can't be compared to fighter pilots as that's a completely different job.

The thing to remember here is that by and large German pilots flew until they died, were injured and couldn't return to duty, were captured or transferred away from flying duties. In addition German aircrews had much more in the way of targets than allied pilots. You can't rack up kills if the other side hasn't got anything up in the air to shoot at or it's a 10:1 fight.

I personally feel the most important aspect of pilots like Rudel is that they were lucky. Lucky to have survived to reach such a high tally. Marseille is a good example. He was lucky to survive his early encounters unlike the vast majority of new pilots. That luck gave him time to learn, which he did and that in turn brought out his skills. Then, through an accident his luck ran out one day and he screwed up bailing out of his 109 which had developed problems. Had his luck held, like Hartmann's, he could very well have become the highest scoring ace of all time.

I do however think that 'The star of Africa' was one of history's most gifted fighter pilots. 17 planes shotdown in one day is just unbelievable.

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I think you could come up with a list of pilots on each side and say they were the best.

The germans always have higher kill ratios because they were always in target rich environments, I'm not saying they were worse just saying you can't really go by their kills because for each pilot they were under different circumstances.

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who was that german pilot who never go shot down and was killed in a air accident? i think i heard of one..?

You might be thinking of Marseille. Asimov mentioned him earlier.

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Another thing to bear in mind is that the three-digit scores were often racked up on the Eastern Front where (not to do down the Soviet Air Force) the quality of opponent was far lower than on the West.

There are plenty of candidates, it just depends on how you measure it. Hartmann was the overall top scorer whilst Marseille scored the highest number of victories against Western flown fighters. Gunther Rall was arguably the best shot in the Luftwaffe, Adolf Glunz never lost an aircraft in 547 sorties though he only got 71 victories, Gunther Scheel is the best as far as sheer rate of destruction goes (71 victories in 70 sorties) and for sheer unrivalled guts Douglas Bader of the RAF has to have an excellent claim.

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Hartmann certainly must rank up there with 352 kills...all in a 109 fighting right up to May '45...and he didn't get his first kill until 11/42.

E Rudorffer get my vote for most versitial German pilot of the war. His first kill was in a 109 shooting down an h-75 over Sedan in 1940 and 222nd was with in a 262. He proved equally adept in both the 109 and 190 and scored the 3rd most in the 262 kills at 12 (top was 16). He also had more multiple kill sorties then any other pilot. He fought in most theaters from BOF on (France, B of Britian, N Africa, Russia, and Germany). He logged around 1000 sorties and never went on leave and ranked 7th in total kills. He was also shot down 16 times-parachuting 9 times (more combat jumps then most paratroopers ;-)

For pure piloting skills and overall balls-got to love Yeager. His kills were not the highest but in his career he flew just about everything out there (American, Allied, Axis, Soviet...) He is know for breaking the sound barrier which at the time many people thought was impossible to live through. Some odder facts is he was shot down early in his career and made his way across France and into Spain (spending a few months making bombs for the French Underground). When he returned to England (France being still occupied) he was told that he could no longer fly combat because if he was captured he could be forced to tell about the underground...he took his case right up the chain to Eisenhour and allowed to return to combat (he had actually shot down a 111 in this period but he had to give the credit to another pilot since he was forbidden to fly combat). Things he did that you should never try...knocking down a tree with p-40, shooting up a water tower because the town police kicked you out of the brothel, taking a your buddy on a trip around france to show where you escaped, trying to explode your droptank on the Alpes with you MGs...the list goes on ;-)

Tim

BornToGo

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As for Yeager---

Don't forget one shoting a moose in North (or South?) Dakota with a 37mm cannon from a P-39 so the squadron would get some meat for dinner (the military in the late 30s early 40s was stingy).

And I don't think you can forget he was also the first one past Mach 2.5.

As late as 2002, Yeager was flying F-15Es. He is truly one of a kind.

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I know' date=' I have read some books. I used to work at f21 and we argued about stuff like this all the time. Even the pilots had some doubts. :)[/quote']

Just because they're pilots it doesn't mean that they have any knowledge of how the LW or any other airforce worked in WWII.

who was that german pilot who never go shot down and was killed in a air accident? i think i heard of one..?

You might be thinking of Marseille. Asimov mentioned him earlier.

Marseille got shot down four or five times during his career.

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Gunther Scheel is the best as far as sheer rate of destruction goes (71 victories in 70 sorties)

omfg

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"The best pilot of WW2 ?"

Probably an unknown test pilot going through an endless stream of prototypes, test mules and their like. On which side ?

Impossible to tell...

Or maybe an unsung hero in a struggling C-46 going over the "Hump"....

Or maybe the unknown british pilot flying Molotov back home from London in June 1942...

Or maybe..

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redbaron.jpg

Though his kill count did not match up to the best German aces in WW2, Richthofen was the father of air combat.

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Not with a better record or determination since he continued flying even after having his right leg shot off... but not the best pilot. IMHO' date=' the best (as in most talented) pilot was Hans Joachim Marseille, although I would agree that Rudel ranks up there.[/quote']

Agree 100%.

Had his career not been cut short by the defective plane he was forced to fly in and bail out from, I'm fairly confident he would have surpassed Erich Hartmann as the Luftwaffe's #1 air-to-air ace.

Marseille pushed himself to almost super-human extremes in his personal training, conditioning his reflexes and body so that he could sustain higher Gs, pull-off ridiculous manuevers, and annihilate his opponents with bursts so short that they happened in the blink of an eye.

Obviously Rudel is a GIANT for the fact that no human being on earth could come close to his score...

And Hartmann deserves credit for having such natural talent...

But I sincerely believe that Marseille was (and probably remains) the most highly skilled wartime pilot in history.

he statistically was the best pilot in the Luftwaffe when considering rounds fired and strings of multiple kills. He did this on a consistent basis too.

Had he survived North Africa, it's safe to say that many many more mothers of Allied troops would have had their sons come home in coffins...

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1. it was marseille for sure (or an unknown pilot with bad luck) - he created his own self-training program and fought alone - his tactics are based on his own ideas, and he trained his eyes for aircombat in the desert:

http://www.2worldwar2.com/marseille.htm

2. about the scores at all:

Different air services had different victory credit systems. The "purest" was Germany's which credited only one victory to one pilot, and only for enemy planes assessed as destroyed or captured. Most other nations adopted the French system of granting full credit to every pilot or aerial gunner participating in a victory, sometimes as many as six or seven individuals. The British furthermore credited "moral victories" in such categories as "driven down", "forced to land", and "out of control". To a lesser extent so did the U.S. Air Service. Top American ace Edward V. Rickenbacker's 26 victories included ten planes "out of control", several "dived east", and two grounded balloons. None of those would have been credited in later wars.

In World War II the Western air forces generally credited fractional shares of aerial victories, resulting in decimal scores such as 11.50 or 26.83. Some U.S. commands also credited aircraft destroyed on the ground as equal to aerial victories. The Soviets distinguished between solo and group kills, as did the Japanese, though the Japanese Navy stopped crediting individual victories in 1943. The Germans continued their inevitable rule of "one pilot, one kill."

3. you can't just explain the high scores of german pilots (high score 352, 15 got more than 200 kills that are 3581 kills at all, more than 100 pilots got over 100 kills) and those from much smaller countries like finnland (high score 94 kills), croatia (high score 40 kills), romania (high score 60 kills), slowakia (high score 32 kills), hungary (high score 34 kills), italy (the exception here because 2/3 of german population but only a highscore of 26 kills) because there was a target rich environment or no limited ToD for axis pilots. Axis pilots got 3 digit numbers at the western front too. But in early war (like in BoB) there was just a low number of planes at all compared to late war: Germany produced nearly twice as much Me262 in 1944/45 than they had bf109s available in BoB (809 bf109s, 300 bf110 vs 700 allied fighters and 96 blenheims). interesting that polish pilots - 5% of the allied side - got 12% of the kills while they were not as good educated in aircombat as the RAF pilots. target rich environment means also that you are outnumbered and your chance to get killed is high. in the late war at the western front german troops were not what you would call "elite" or good equipped in any kind and same for most german pilots in these days: really young men without beeing really trained had to fight against much better trained and well rested (compared) allied pilots with a lot of modern fighters in supply . and allied high scores are: usa 40 kills (just 23 pilots got more than 20 kills), uk 36 kills (22 got more than 20 kills), canada 31 kills (3 got over 20 kills), french 26 kills (5 got more than 20), polland 22 kills (only one over 20 kills), australia 28 kills (2 over 20), new zealand 27 kills (5 over 20), south africa 35 kills (4 over 20), soviet union 62 (50 got more than 20 kills). it's a fact that world war II was primary a war at the east front and not in the west and the difference in pilot scoring in both east and west is to high. (think about it again: just 15 german pilots shot down 3581 planes while ALL US aces in europe and pacific war with 10+ kills shot down 4829 planes) it looks like axis side had the better pilots/plane/training setup (before most of them got killed) in the most stupid military masterplan in history... we all can be glad that the mad man was such an idiot :D

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1. it was marseille for sure (or an unknown pilot with bad luck) - he created his own self-training program and fought alone - his tactics are based on his own ideas, and he trained his eyes for aircombat in the desert:

http://www.2worldwar2.com/marseille.htm

2. about the scores at all:

3. you can't just explain the high scores of german pilots (high score 352, 15 got more than 200 kills that are 3581 kills at all, more than 100 pilots got over 100 kills) and those from much smaller countries like finnland (high score 94 kills), croatia (high score 40 kills), romania (high score 60 kills), slowakia (high score 32 kills), hungary (high score 34 kills), italy (the exception here because 2/3 of german population but only a highscore of 26 kills) because there was a target rich environment or no limited ToD for axis pilots. Axis pilots got 3 digit numbers at the western front too. But in early war (like in BoB) there was just a low number of planes at all compared to late war: Germany produced nearly twice as much Me262 in 1944/45 than they had bf109s available in BoB (809 bf109s, 300 bf110 vs 700 allied fighters and 96 blenheims). interesting that polish pilots - 5% of the allied side - got 12% of the kills while they were not as good educated in aircombat as the RAF pilots. target rich environment means also that you are outnumbered and your chance to get killed is high. in the late war at the western front german troops were not what you would call "elite" or good equipped in any kind and same for most german pilots in these days: really young men without beeing really trained had to fight against much better trained and well rested (compared) allied pilots with a lot of modern fighters in supply . and allied high scores are: usa 40 kills (just 23 pilots got more than 20 kills), uk 36 kills (22 got more than 20 kills), canada 31 kills (3 got over 20 kills), french 26 kills (5 got more than 20), polland 22 kills (only one over 20 kills), australia 28 kills (2 over 20), new zealand 27 kills (5 over 20), south africa 35 kills (4 over 20), soviet union 62 (50 got more than 20 kills). it's a fact that world war II was primary a war at the east front and not in the west and the difference in pilot scoring in both east and west is to high. (think about it again: just 15 german pilots shot down 3581 planes while ALL US aces in europe and pacific war with 10+ kills shot down 4829 planes) it looks like axis side had the better pilots/plane/training setup (before most of them got killed) in the most stupid military masterplan in history... we all can be glad that the mad man was such an idiot :D

It probably didn't help that the US rotated its pilots out of theaters of war either. This was to help with the training of newer pilots in tactics and combat as well as to show the public a real live ace to help sell some war bonds.

Did the other allies do the same thing?

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