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Fighter Aces & Famous Pilots



Erich Hartmann
WW2 Fighter Pilot

Full Name: Erich Alfred Hartmann
Lifespan: April 19, 1922 – September 20, 1993
Occupation: Fighter Pilot

Erich Alfred Hartmann was known as “The Black Devil of the South” by his enemies due to his excellent and courageous record during his combat missions with the Luftwaffe. This should not be a surprise to anyone because of the high number of engagements he successfully won.

Erich Hartmann

Background of Early Life
Erich Hartmann was born on April 19, 1922 in Weissach, Württemberg Germany to Doctor Alfred Erich Hartmann and German glider pilot Elisabeth Wilhelmine Machtholf. Due to the economic depression, his father had to find work in Changsa, China where he spent most of his childhood years. They were forced to go back to Germany during the Chinese Civil War. He went to different schools: Volksschule in Weil im Schönbuch from April 1928 to April 1932, Gymnasium in Böblingen from April 1932 to April 1936, National Political Institutes of Education in Rottweil from April 1936 to April 1937 and in the Gymnasium in Korntal from April 1937 to April 1940.


Personality Life and Family
Erich Hartman was born to Doctor Alfred Erich Hartmann and one of the first female German glider pilot Elisabeth Wilhelmine Machtholf. He had a younger brother named Alfred, who joined the Luftwaffe during the World War II. On September 10, 1944, Hartmann married his long time girlfriend Ursula “Usch” Paetsch in the vacation resort for fighter pilots. In 1945, Erich Peter Hartmann was born but died 3 years later. Hartmann never saw the child because of his long imprisonment. On February 23, 1957, Ursula Isabel was born.

Work and Career
Hartmann successfully flew 1,404 combat assignments during the World War 2 which resulted in 825 engagements and was never hit by enemy fire. There was never shot and wounded nor did he bail out because his aircraft has been damaged. His recorded kills include 200 single-engine fighters, 80 Bell P-39 Airacobras, 15 Ilyushin 11-2 ground-attack aircraft and 10 medium bombers. He later boosted of not having a wingman die during his leadership; although there was a time that his wingman was shot down but he successfully escaped from allied forces. He was mad at himself because of not following his gut instinct and still flying with an inexperienced wingman.
Erich Hartman re-joined the post war Luftwaffe in 1956 as a Oberst and remained in service until 1970, his early retirement was partially a result of his strong conviction that the Luftwaffe should not acquire the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter, he was proved correct and the aircraft was to later become known as the "widow maker".

Hartmann died on September 20, 1993 at Weil in Schönbuchat the age of 71. There was no information released on the specific cause of death.

Influence & Legacy
As to this date, no one has ever replaced Erich Hartmann’s record as the top scoring fighter ace not only during the World War II but in the whole history of aerial warfare. He took pride of not having lost a wingman, was never shot nor forced to land due to enemy fire. Today, many fighter pilots still look up to him and want to follow his footsteps especially on his leadership and aerial fighting skills.

Famous quotes by Erich Hartmann

“Of all my accomplishments I may have achieved during the war, I am proudest of the fact that I never lost a wingman.”

“It was my view that no kill was worth the life of a wingman. . . . Pilots in my unit who lost wingmen on this basis were prohibited from leading a section. They were made to fly as wingman instead.”

“You can have computer sights or anything you like, but I think you have to go to the enemy on the shortest distance and knock him down from point-blank range. You'll get him from in close. At long distance, it's questionable.”

“I opened fire when the whole windshield was black with the enemy . . . at minimum range . . . it doesn't matter what your angle is to him or whether you are in a turn or any other manoeuvre.”

“See, decide, attack, and reverse.”

“Every day kill just one, rather than today five, tomorrow ten . . . that is enough for you. Then your nerves are calm and you can sleep well, you have your drink in the evening and the next morning you are fit again."


Medals and Awards

  • Front Flying Clasp of the Luftwaffe in Gold with Pennant
  • Pilot/Observer Badge in Gold with Diamonds
  • Ehrenpokal der Luftwaffe on 13 September 1943
  • German Cross in Gold on 17 October 1943
  • Iron Cross (1939) 2nd and 1st class
  • Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds
  • Knight's Cross on 29 October 1943
  • 420th Oak Leaves on 2 March 1944
  • 75th Swords on 2 July
  • 18th Diamonds on 25 August 1944
  • Mentioned twice in the Wehrmachtbericht

Fast Facts

  • Occupation: Fighter Pilot
  • Birthday: April 19, 1922
  • Place of Birth: Weissach, Württemberg
  • Nickname: “Bubi” by his friends; “The Blonde Knight of Germany”; “The Black Devil of the South” or “The Black Devil” by his enemies
  • Date of Death: September 20, 1993
  • Place of Death: Weilim Schönbuch
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    Erich Hartmann


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