The Red Baron and Hartmann (moved)

  • …a moved topic about “the Greatest” WWI and WWII pilots…

    I only rememember two Richthofen quotes, and not word for word - one was something about the key thing in war is to be aggressive and the air is no exeception, and the other was something about how “serious and dark” the war in the air was, and how it was not at all glamorous.

    An interesting fact abour Richthofen that it not that well known - he is always refered to as the “greatest pilot of WWI”, but he was actually not that great of a pilot, even by his own admission - he just had the most kills. He received some criticism by some of the more ‘chivalrous’ German pilots, and as you can tell from that quote above, he thought the whole “Knights of the Air” stuff was a bunch of crap. He credited common sense and not his piloting ability with most of his kills - he only attacked from situations where he and his squadron had the advantage with numbers, altitude, and/or suprise, and his planes (the Albatross D3 and the Fokker DR1 triplane) were significantly better than the Allied planes at the time. One (obviously envious) german pilot, when hearing him called the Hawk of Germany or something like that, said something about him “not being a Hawk, but more like a Buzzard” or something like that. He was a big-time hunter before the war and it was his hunting mentality that helped him rack up so many kills.

    Although that does kind of shatter the ‘typical’ view of the Red Baron, to me rather than being a knock on the guy, it just shows his intelligence!

    Also, as I’m sure many of you know, there was a similar situation with all of the top aces of WWII like Hartmann and the other German pilots - although they were certainly good pilots, they are quite a bit overrated - they all fought in the Eastern Front against VASTLY inferior Russian planes and had a ton of “easy” kills - like shooting fish in a barrel - as opposed to the pilots in the Western Front and Pacific where every kill was hard-fought and well earned.

    The Eastern Front pilots had about three times as many kills as the pilots in the Western Front - I think Hartmann had around 350 and the highest Western Front pilot had 100?

    Something like that.

    [ This Message was edited by: Ansbach on 2002-05-26 10:26 ]

  • It is a large misconception that the Eastern Front was an inferior front in the air war compared with the West. A closer examination of the careers of German and other Axis aces on the Eastern Front, however suggest, that they did not achieve their high scores by underestimating their Soviet opponents. Second-ranking German ace Gerhard Barkhorn, for example, wa sshot down nine times and cited the Yak-0 as a type that caused him particular trouble. In fact, in the mid-late phases of the war, Russia had excellent operation fighters like the Yak-9, La-5FN, and La-7 which were probably the best lower altitude fighters of the war. That Yak-9 was the champion in climbing ability and maneuverability and German fighter pilots were specifically advised to “avoid combat below 5,000 meters.”

    As for Hartmann, he was my favorite ace. Also e did not get as many easy kills as you expect. Much of Hartmann’s kills came in the mid-late war (he did not start flying until 1942 I think) where Hartmann often had to go against good Russian fighters with numerical superiority. However, me and TM still debate over who was better: Adolf Galland or Erich Hartmann? Though Hartmann had more kills, Galland was a better leader and was often grounded by Hitler. It would make a great debate.

    As for the Western Front comment, I’m sure Axis aces scored over 100 kills since Adolf Galland surpassed 100 in the West by himself.

  • Red Baron? Well, kind of lay waste to his Flying Circus. But the Baron was an expert killer. Most of the Allied planes that Baron shot down did not even see him. He definitely knew how to position himself, usually attack from above or through the sun. What interesting was how young the Baron was. I thought for a Baron he would be in his 30-40s, but in fact, he was very young.

  • a couple of fyi’s
    Billy Bishop of Ontario Canada shot down 72 planes in WWI, duked it out with the Red Baron (ended in a draw)and trained pilots in WWII (and even starred in a movie about himself after the war).
    Also another Canadian shot down the Red Baron:
    On April 21,1918, Richthofen’s squadron of Fokker triplanes pounced upon a pair of Australian artillery spotting aircraft.
    The Germans then were attacked by a flight of Sopwith Camels from 209 SQN, Royal Flying Core, led by Captain Roy Brown (Ontario, Canada).
    In the confusion of the dogfight, Richthofen spotted a Camel disengaging due to jammed guns. The Red Baron was careless, while intent on chasing May’s plane he did not see Roy Brown diving onto his own tail. With a single burst of fire Brown ended the Red Baron’s life.
    The Red Baron was buried with full military honors in the war cemetery at Bertangles, France. In 1925 his remains were returned to Germany and reinterred in Berlin’s Invaliden Cemetery.

  • Well, it was a fitting death and a fining ceremony for one of the deadliest Fighter Aces of Aces of all time.

    Billy Bishop at 70+ kills, that is amazing. Well us Americans Eddie Rickenbacker at 26. Imagine what damage he could’ve done if he had served the whole war!

  • Let me guess, his unselfish nature by helping his fellow newcomers and squad mates first? Plus there’s the Battle of Britain (top scorer) and and becoming General of Fighters (second only to Galland)…

  • Of course we can never forget “One Eye” Saburo Sakai. He managed to go up against the best-trained pilots of all time and survive. Outnumbered and outgunned by Wildcats, Hellcats, and Corsairs, he still managed to rack 64 kills (though the Japanese military did not credit individual pilots with victory claims). Plus, Sakai was a man of character.

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