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Contents









Aces of World War II

USA

Bong, Richard I.

  • American top flying ace
Richard Ira Bong
Richard Bong portrait.jpg
USA CountryIcon USA.pngCountry fought for
WW II Military History
United States Army Air Forces (USAAF)Branch
1942-1945Years served
Military rank
2nd LieutenantJanuary 1942
1st LieutenantApril 1943
CaptainAugust 1943
MajorApril 1944
Service record
+200Combat missions flown
40Confirmed aerial victories
YesAce
Aircraft Flown
Item own.png
P-38E
p-38e.png
1942-1943
Item own.png
P-38G-1
p-38g.png
1943
Item own.png
P-38J-15
p-38j.png
1943
Item own.png
P-38L-5-LO
p-38l.png
1944
Item prem.png
Bong's P-38J-15
p-38j_marge.png
1944
Aircraft shot down
2Ki-46
12Other aircraft

General

War Expeirence

Tactics

Media






















































Bostwick, George E.

George Eugene Bostwick
George Bostwick profile.jpg
USA CountryIcon USA.pngCountry fought for
WW II Military History
United States Army Air Forces (USAAF)Branch
1941-1963Years served
Military rank
2nd Lieutenant1941
1st Lieutenant1942
CaptainSeptember 1944
MajorApril 1945
Lieutenant ColonelOctober 1950
ColonelApril 1953
Service record
8Confirmed aerial victories
YesAce
Aircraft Flown
Item own.png
P-47D-25
p-47d.png
1941-1943
Item own.png
P-47D-28
p-47d-28.png
1943-44
Item prem.png
P-47M-1-RE
p-47m-1-re.png
1944-45
Aircraft shot down

General

War Experience

Tactics

Media













































Olds, Robin

  • Triple ace, fought in both World War II and Vietnam
Robin Olds
Robin Olds portrait.jpg
USA CountryIcon USA.pngCountry fought for
WW II Military History
United States Army Air Force (USAAF)Branch
1941-1945Years served
1945-1966Active duty
Vietnam History
1966-1967Years served
Military rank
Cadet Captain1941
Cadet Private1943
1st LieutenantJune 1943
2nd LieutenantDecember 1943
CaptainJuly 1944
MajorFebruary 1945
Lieutenant ColonelFebruary 1951
ColonelApril 1953
Brigadier GeneralJune 1968
Service record
259Combat missions flown
16Confirmed aerial victories
YesAce
Aircraft Flown
Item own.png
P-38J-15
p-38j.png
1943-1944
Item prem.png
P-51D-20-NA
p-51d-20-na.png
1944-1945
Item own.png
F-80C-10
f-80.png
1946
Item own.png
F-86A-5
f-86a-5.png
1949
Item own.png
Meteor F Mk 3
meteor_fmk3.png
1951-1952
Item own.png
▄F-86K
f-86k_late.png
1955-1956
F-101C Voodoo1963-1965
F-4C Phantom II1966-1967
Aircraft shot down
2MiG-21

General

Robin Olds, born in 1922 was born into a military family. His father Robert Olds was a World War I fighter pilot and a pilot instructor in France.[1] Robert Olds served as an aide to Brigadier General Billy Mitchell and was promoted to commander of 2nd Bombardment Group at Langley Field with the innovative B-17 Flying Fortress bombers. Senior Olds ended his Army Air Force career as a Major General. Robin’s mother died when he was four, leaving his father to raise him and his three brothers. Due to his father’s position in the Army Air Force, Olds grew up around prominent officer figures such as General Billy Mitchell and Carl Spaatz who became the USAF’s first Chief of Staff.[2][3]

When eight years old, Olds flew in an open cockpit biplane which his father flew as a pilot in command. This experience and others from growing up so close to military installations instilled a desire when at age 12, Olds made up his mind that he would attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, which would allow him to do three things most important to him at that time, become an officer, a pilot and play football.[3]

Olds passed the West Point entrance examination and was accepted to attend, however, a month after starting the academy, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Immediately, Olds was sent to the Spartan School of Aeronautics in Oklahoma for a year-long course for flight training. Olds returned to West Point where due to an act of Congress, he was placed in a three-year program which streamlined the learning process for future pilots. On 30 May 1943, Olds received his pilot’s wings from General Henry “Hap” Arnold and graduated 194th the following day out of 514 classmates.[2]

Unfortunately, during his tenure at West Point, Olds saw and was at the brunt of several instances of officers abusing their position of power and leadership rather than leading by example and mentorship. Olds’ strong dedication to the air service which he gained while growing up led him to have a low tolerance for officers of a low calibre which did not exhibit the same characteristics which would become even more evident further into his career.[3]

War Experience

Olds went to California and Arizona to complete his fighter training and then twin-engine aircraft training. Initially training on the Curtiss AT-9, Olds transitioned to the P-322, a basic version of the P-38 which lacked advanced components such as turbochargers which simplified the transition from civilian twin-engine aircraft to eventually the P-38. After 650 hours of flight time and training completed, Olds’ training unit was shipped out to England where they flew out of R.A.F. Wattisham on the 14th of May. On the 26th of May, Olds began flying escort missions for bombers and attacking transportation targets in occupied France in a new P-38J. Here, Olds began to show himself different than most pilots as he took an active interest in the maintenance of his aircraft and would work and learn from his crew chief various aspects of the maintenance of the P-38 to include emergency servicing tasks. Olds frequently aided the aircrews when it came to maintenance of the aircraft. Soon after Olds was promoted to the rank of Captain and given a command as a squadron leader and shortly afterwards during a bridge-bombing mission in France on the 14th of August, he and his flight came across German Fw 190 fighters in which he promptly shot two down.[2]

On 25 August, while flying escort duty, Olds’ flight encountered a formation of about 40 Bf 109s. Directing his flight to follow, they gained altitude and manoeuvred into position above the German fighters. Just prior to their diving, he directed his wingman to drop the external fuel tanks and then dove on the unsuspecting Germans. As he lined up one aircraft and began to fire, both of his engines sputtered out, having fuel starved. In his excitement of battle, Olds forgot to switch his fuel tank switch from “external” to “internal” fuel tanks. Olds continued to dead-stick his aircraft and fired another volley into the Fw 190, causing the engine cowling to rip off and the fighter to go down. Olds switched over his fuel lever and restarted both engines just in time to help his wingman and shoot down the other Germany fighter. On the flight back to base, Olds bagged another Bf 109 which was his first ace of the war. Three more German fighters were chalked up to Olds in his P-38J fighter before his squadron switched to the P-51D-25 Mustangs.[3]

In September 1944, Olds’ fighter group converted from the P-38J twin-engine fighters to the single-engine P-51D-25. Having gotten used to the counter-rotating propellers on the P-38, Olds wasn’t ready for the powerful torque of the single-engine P-51 which when attempting to land caused him into a ground loop when the P-51 angled off the runway. On the 6th of October, Olds had the opportunity to shoot down his first aircraft in the P-51, an Fw 190 while flying near Berlin. With his first tour ending, Olds returned to the United States for two months of leave and then returned to Wattisham in January 1945 to start a second tour. In February, Olds downed a Bf 109 while flying over Magdeburg, Germany and a few days later on the 14th of February, he shot down another two Bf 109s.[2]

Quote icon.png

"There are pilots and there are pilots. With the good ones, it is inborn. You can’t teach it."[1]

— Triple ace pilot Robin Olds


Olds’ final aerial kill of the Great War happened in April while he lead an escort group on a mission to protect B-24 bombers. Olds noticed contrails showing up near some high billowing clouds. These aircraft followed for about five minutes before he turned to investigate them. At that time Olds noticed two German Me 262 fighter jets diving towards the bombers. This was a tactic meant to draw the fighter escort away from the bomber group, leaving it exposed to the Sonderkommando Elbe or German Bf 109s specifically used to ram Allied bombers. Olds took off after one of the Me 262s, damaging it, but not destroying it. Olds then returned to the bomber formation where he saw a Bf 109 diving through the formation and shoot down a B-24. Olds accelerated and tracked the Bf 109 through the formation and shot it down for his final victory of the war and tallying up a second ace and becoming the only pilot which gained ace status in both the P-38 and the P-51.[3]

Return to the United States after the war saw Olds in several different jobs including flying P-80 Shooting Stars in California. He became part of a jet aerobatic demonstration team and continued this until transferred to England under the USAF/RAF exchange program where he flew the Gloster Meteor jet fighter and commanded the No. 1 Squadron at R.A.F. Tangmere until September 1949.[1] Olds returned to California and was the operations officer over a squadron flying F-86A Sabres. Over the next few years, he was routed through several staff assignments and in 1955 was once again in charge of a fighter group in Germany. After an assignment at Wheelus Air Base in Libya, transferred back to the United States where Olds served at the Pentagon and attended the National War College. Olds next commanded a fighter wing of F-101 Voodoo fighters-bombers at R.A.F. Bentwaters in England. After forming a demonstration team with his F-101 pilots without command authorization, he was removed from command and sent to South Carolina for a staff slot at Shaw Air Force Base.[2]

In September 1966, with the war in Vietnam raging, Olds was selected to command an F-4C Phantom wing in Southeast Asia, specifically out of Thailand. Enroute, he was able to pull strings and arranged to be checked out as a pilot in the Phantom while at a stopover at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, completing the process in just five days. One of the instructor pilots, Major William Kirk, served under Olds at R.A.F. Bentwaters and accompanied him to Point Mugu missile range in California where Olds became proficient at firing AIM-7 Sparrow and AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles. Olds continued onto Travis Air Force Base in Sacramento where he then made the overseas hop to Thailand.[2]

On 30 September 1966, at the Ubon Royal Thai Air Force base, Olds took command of the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing. The prior commander had a lack of aggressiveness and sense of purpose which trickled down through the ranks, especially noted that he only had flown 12 missions during the last 10 months the wing had been in combat. Olds, at 44, aimed to make a major change and one of his first actions was to put himself on the flight schedule as a rookie pilot and as a full-bird colonel, under the junior officers and the challenged them to train him correctly because he would soon be leading them.[3]

Frustrations mounted due to the obstacles placed in front of the pilots by the command staff and Congress and having very limited targets to hit. North Vietnamese air bases could not be attacked and the MiG fighters which they housed could not become targets unless they were doing something which was considered a direct threat. After hearing of a plan from a junior officer to potentially draw the MiG fighters into an aerial trap, Colonel Olds drafted up an operation known as “Operation Bolo”. Early on, the F-105 Thunderchiefs were used as bombers throughout Vietnam, however, they became easy targets to surface-to-air missiles (SAM). To counter these SAM threats, one bomb was left off the aircraft and QRC-160 radar jamming pods were attached which virtually nullified any losses to these missiles. This change in tactic prompted the North Vietnamese to use their MiG fighters to pick off the F-105s whenever they “announced” themselves with their radar jammers on.[3]

Quote icon.png

"If you are a fighter pilot, you have to be willing to take risks"

— Colonel Robin Olds


Operation Bolo ended up being a wolf in sheep’s clothing type of operation. The F-4C fighters would be equipped for air-to-air combat, but would each attach a jamming pod used by the F-105s. Next, the F-4s would fly just as the F-105s would on a bombing mission in an attempt to trick the North Vietnamese into thinking it was another F-105 bombing run. The ruse worked and as the F-4s flew over the MiG bases, MiG-21 fighters began to pop up through the low overcast layer. Leading the flight was Colonel Olds and within twelve minutes, seven MiG-21 fighters had been shot down without the loss of a U.S. fighter while the rest retreated.[2][3] What was significant was this was almost half of the entire North Vietnamese air force of 16 aircraft. Olds claimed one of the MiG-21s that day. A smaller but similar operation took place a few days later when two more MiG-21 fighters were shot down. After this, North Vietnamese fighter activity virtually stopped for about 10 weeks. When they resumed flights, Olds bagged another MiG-21 and several weeks later during another flight after his wingman was shot down during a dogfight, Olds claimed two MiG-17s. Following shooting down his fourth jet, he purposefully avoided downing any other jets after hearing information that if a fifth was claimed, he would have been an ace again and pulled from command and paraded around in the States as a public relations puppet. Another side note, pilots who reached 100 combat sorties were sent home and relieved from any further action in Vietnam and as such Olds stopped counting his combat sorties at 99 to remain in command of his squadron for a total of 51 weeks (a total of 152 missions were flown by Olds in Vietnam).[1] [3]

Tactics

Media

  • Lt. Olds standing in front of his P-38J fighter, SCAT II in England.
  • Major Olds standing in front of his P-51D fighter, SCAT V.
  • Major Robin Olds at the controls of is P-51D fighter, SCAT VII. Photo was taken from a B-17 he was escorting over Germany.
  • Image of Major Robin Olds' P-80 jet fighter, SCAT X.
  • Colonel Olds giving a briefing while standing before his F-101C Voodoo fighter while commanding a fighter wing at R.A.F. Bentwater.
  • 44 year-old Colonel Robin Olds posing in front of his F-4C Phantom, note the two stars on the air splitter representing his first two of four MiG fighters which he shot down over Vietnam.
Yesterday's Air Force - Robin Olds - PeninsulaSrsVideos
Who was Robin Olds? - MAHARBAL5022


Wetmore, Ray S.

  • Shot down a Me 163 B with his P-51D at speeds around 600 mph (965 kph).
Ray S. Wetmore
Ray S Wetmore portrait.jpg
USA CountryIcon USA.pngCountry fought for
WW II Military History
United States Army Air Force (USAAF)Branch
1941-1951Years served
Military rank
Armament SpecialistNovember 1941
Aviation CadetJuly 1942
2nd LieutenantMarch 1943
Captain1944
Major1949
Lieutenant Colonel1951
Service record
142Combat missions flown
21Confirmed aerial victories
YesAce
Aircraft Flown
Item own.png
P-47D-25
p-47d.png
1943-1944
Item own.png
P-51
p-51_mk1a_usaaf.png
1944
Item prem.png
P-51D-10
p-51d-10.png
1945
Item own.png
F-86A-5
f-86a-5.png
1949-1951
Aircraft shot down

General

Raymond Shuey Wetmore grew up in central California amid farm land, the son of a farmer.[4] Growing up Wetmore had the opportunity to take a short ride in an airplane when a flying circus came through, although he was largely unimpressed with the flight. It wasn’t until 1941 when he enlisted into the Army Air Corps that he chose to take the route of a pilot. In 1942 he started flight school as an aviation cadet and graduated in March 1943. With his pilot’s wings, Wetmore was next assigned to the 359th Fighter Group out of England with his first assignment flying P-47 Thunderbolts.[5]

War Experience

One instance Wetmore proved himself as a fighter pilot came when was leading "Red Section" over Merseburg while escorting bombers. During the flight, the bombers were jumped by approximately 30 Bf 109 fighters, reacting to this, Wetmore told his section to drop their external fuel tanks and bank to intercept. The P-51s were travelling too fast to target the Bf 109s who performed a split-ess. While overshooting, this caused the German fighters to split up and made it easier for the American pilots to select and chase a target. Wetmore singled one German fighter out and flew to within 400 meters before he opened fire. Several rounds hit the 109 in the wing root and fuselage and the German pilot reacted by deploying his combat flaps allowing him to slow down and perform a split-ess. Wetmore was in jeopardy of overshooting, however, he was able to make a quick burst into the German fighter which converted into a descending barrel roll which developed into a flat spin of which he did not recover from. As Wetmore was ascending back up to the fray, he was “bounced” or jumped by 15 to 20 Bf 109s at around 6,000 ft. Making a tight turn to avoid the attackers, Wetmore was able to take advantage of the attackers lack of tactics and was able to get behind one where when at a 70° deflection, Wetmore fired a quick burst which all struck the cockpit, apparently killing the pilot as the plane ended up stalling out and tumbling to the ground.[4]

Quote icon.png

Recalling later when his flight came across approximately 100 German Bf 109 fighters..."In order to defend ourselves, we had to attack."[5]

— Captain Ray. S. Wetmore


Another instance came when flying near Drummer Lake, looking below himself, Wetmore saw a flight of four Fw 190s following in a trail and called out to have he and his wing-man make the bounce on them. Wetmore singled out one of the 190s and at a 20-degree deflection opened fire at 300 meters. The German pilot attempted to extend his gear, however, ended up performing a belly landing which resulted in the destruction of the aircraft and killing the pilot. Selecting a second target, Wetmore gave chase and from very close range, Wetmore fired a short burst and in the 190s attempt to make a break ended up snapping the aircraft into the ground and exploding. Taking on a third target, again within 300 meters, Wetmore opened fire making several positive contacts resulting in the 190 spinning out of control into the ground.[6] Wetmore caught up with his wing-mate and noticed his canopy had frosted over and could not see very well let alone able to make an accurate shot. Both P-51 pilots were able to hit the fourth target with short bursts causing the German fighter to belly land on the snow-covered ground. Wetmore made for a go-around and fired several more shots into the downed fighter causing it to catch fire.[4][5]

The pinnacle of Wetmore's combat achievements happened on 15 March 1945 when he shot down a rocket-powered Me 163.[5] In his own words, he stated: "I dived with him and leveled off at 2,000 ft at six o'clock. During the dive my IAS was between 550 and 600 mph. I opened fire at 200 yards. Pieces flew all over. He made a sharp turn to the right, and I gave him another short burst, and half of his left wing flew off, and the plane caught on fire. The pilot bailed out and I saw the E/A [enemy aircraft] crash into the ground."[7]

Tactics

Wetmore's preferred tactic whether it was in the P-47 or in the P-51 was to get in close behind the enemy and wait for a deflection shot. Typically he would wait until around 300 - 400 meters and pause until the target aircraft would manoeuvre to allow for a 20° - 70° deflection shot. Apparently, Wetmore had exceptional eyesight as during his reports he would recall where his shots landed on the enemy aircraft, specifically noting "wing-root", "cockpit" or "engine."[4]

Situations, where Wetmore and his wingmen were outnumbered, did not deter them from attacking or taking on a numerically superior enemy. Wetmore took the side of divide-and-conquer trying to take on smaller amounts of enemies, however, remained cool under combat when that did not work out and more enemy aircraft jumped into the fight than expected.

Media

War Thunder's Weapons of Victory - Daddy's Girl




  • Ray S. Wetmore (left) converses with his armourer Sgt Locklyn Sangster who is in the process of servicing one of the P-51D's several machine guns.
  • Ray S. Wetmore preparing to taxi for takeoff in his P-51 Daddy's Girl.
  • Captain Ray S. Wetmore (2nd from right) receives the Distinguished Service Medal from Lt. General Carl A. Spaatz (2nd from left).
  • Ray S. Wetmore being carried from his P-51B after a successful mission by his ground crew.

Germany

Hartmann, Erich A.

  • Highest scoring fighter pilot of all time
Erich Alfred Hartmann
Erich Hartmann portrait.jpg
Germany CountryIcon NDE.pngCountry fought for
WW II Military History
LuftwaffeBranch
1940-1945Years served
German Air ForceBranch
1956-1970Years served
Military rank
2nd LieutenantApril 1942
1st LieutenantMay 1944
CaptainSeptember 1944
MajorMay 1945
Lieutenant ColonelDecember 1960
ColonelJuly 1967
Service record
1,404Combat missions
352Confirmed aerial victories
YesAce
Aircraft Flown
Item own.png
Bf 109 G-6
bf-109g-6.png
Item own.png
Bf 109 G-10
bf-109g-10.png
Item own.png
Bf 109 G-14
bf-109g-14.png
Item own.png
CL-13A Mk 5
f-86_canadair_german.png
Aircraft shot down
53LaGG (upspecified)
1R-5
1Unidentified aircraft


General

War Experience

Quote icon.png

"When the enemy fills the entire windscreen you can’t miss"

— Erich Hartmann

Tactics

Media































































Marseille, Hans-Joachim

General

War Expierence

Tactics

Media

USSR

Dolgushin, Sergei F.

General

War Expierence

Tactics

Media

War Thunder's Weapons of Victory - Dolgushin's La-7

  • Hero of the Soviet Union Sergei Dolgushin, Commander of 156. IAP (middle), with pilot colleagues in front of his La-7. Photo was taken in Germany, 1945.

Golovachev, Pavel Y.

General

War Expierence

Tactics

Media

War Thunder's Weapons of Victory - Golovachev's Yak-9M



Kozhedub, Ivan N.

  • Top allied fighter ace, three times Hero of the Soviet Union
Ivan N. Kozhedub
Ivan Kozhedub 2.jpg
Иван Н. КожедубUkranian spelling
USSR CountryIcon SUN.pngCountry fought for
WW II Military History
Soviet military air forces (VVS)Branch
1940-1985Years served
Military rank
Senior SergeantMarch 1943
Junior LieutenantAugust 1943
Senior LieutenantOctober 1943
Guard CaptainMay 1944
Deputy Commander1944
ColonelApril 1951
General1956
Aviation Air Marshall1985
Service record
320Combat missions flown
120Aerial engagements
64Confirmed aerial victories
YesAce
Aircraft Flown
Item own.png
Po-2
po-2.png
pre-war
Item own.png
I-16 type 5
i-16_type5.png
pre-war
Item own.png
La-5
la-5_type37_early.png
1942-1944
Item own.png
La-5F
la-5_type39.png
1944
Item own.png
La-5FN
la-5fn.png
1944-1945
Item own.png
La-7
la-7.png
1945
Item own.png
MiG-15
mig-15_ns23.png
post-war
Aircraft shot down
1PZL P.24

General

Ivan Nikitovich Kozhedub's first flying experience was as a teenager when he learned how to fly through the local Shostkinsk aeroclub where they flew Polikarpov U-2 (trainer versions of the PO-2) and UTI-16 (two-seat trainer version of the I-16).[8] The "U" in the aircraft name is the Russian uchebny which means "trainer." In 1940 he joined the Soviet military and graduated from Chuhuiv Military Air School in 1941 around the time the German's began their invasion of the Soviet Union. Eager to get to the front, Kozhedub was denied a transfer, instead, his superiors recognized his knowledge and expertise around the aircraft along with his ability to teach and retained him as a pilot instructor.[9] Ivan remained at the school for two more years instructing many pilots who would transfer to the front lines.[8][9] It was during the process of teaching the student pilots that Kozhedub refined his own abilities as a pilot. Finally, in 1943 Kozhedub after several denied requests to go to the front, was granted a transfer to the 240th IAP.

War Experience

Now on the front lines, Kozhedub was provided with one of the new Lavochkin La-5 fighters. In March 1943, Kozhedub flew on his first combat sortie and it would be one that he would not forget, as while focusing on one target, he developed tunnel vision and did not see two Bf 109s which descended upon him and riddled his aircraft with holes.[8] Able to get away, Kozhedub limped his aircraft back to base where it had to be scrapped after he landed. Lessons learned here taught him that you must always look around and keep an eye on the enemy at all times. Religated to older fighters, Kozhedub did not give up and began to increase his tally score of aerial victories as the months went on.[9] Kozhedub exercised confidence and technique and incorporated it with the experience he was gaining. Initially, he started out as part of a squadron, usually working in pairs when going after enemy aircraft, sometimes as bait and other times an attacker. Bomber escort duty was also necessary, but that didn't stop him from adding victory stars to his aircraft. Over time Kozhedub was provided with another new La-5 and several months later he was given an upgraded La-5F and then a La-5FN.[9]

In 1944 as Kozhedub was generating a significant tally of downed enemy aircraft, he was transitioned into the new La-7, which he determined to be the best fighter aircraft in the world and held that belief even after the war.[10] Aerial victory number 55 was especially memorable for Kozhedub, as while he and a partner were flying on patrol, they spotted an unusual aircraft which was travelling faster than what their La-7s could do. The aircraft turned out to be a German jet fighter, the Me 262 which could outrun them. Eager to attempt to shoot down the jet, Kozhedub's partner shot at the jet, spooking the pilot which caused him to turn to the left, right in front of Kozhedub. Losing enough speed in the turn, the jet was an easy target, one which Kozhedub unloaded on, knocking it out of the sky.[10][9] By the time the war had ended, Kozhedub had 64 confirmed aerial victories, however, it is estimated he had over 100, many of those others were shared kills in which he gave the full credit to the other pilot rather than take it for himself.[10]

Preferred Tactics

Kozhedub was a pilot of patience, waiting until almost on top of his target before letting loose his weapons. With nose-mounted cannons in La-5, La-5FN and La-7, setting gun convergence was not necessary, yet, Kozhedub typically waited until he was within 200 - 300 meters before firing and preferred unloading on an aircraft through deflection shooting or by aiming ahead of the target while it was climbing, diving or banking left or right. In an interview with Aviation History magazine, Kozhedub stated that while he respected the courage of German aces, he did not pay much attention to them, instead, he focused on "trying to guess as soon as possible the plans and methods of my enemy, and find weak spots in his tactics."[11]

Quote icon.png

I always felt respect for an enemy pilot whose plane I failed to down.

— Ivan N. Kozhedub, Soviet Aerial Ace

Describing attacking a target, Kozhedub stated, "I chose a victim and came in quite close to it. The main thing was to fire in time."[11] However, it was important to avoid tunnel vision when following a target hence why it was important to maintain caution as "caution is all-important and you have to turn your head 360-degrees all the time", a valuable lesson he learned in his first combat sortie in 1943. "The victory belonged to those who knew their planes and weapons inside out and had the initiative."[11]

Kozhedub spent the early years of the war from 1940 to 1942 as a pilot instructor. While learning to fly always takes time (Kozhedub was required 100 hours of flight time before he was first licensed at the aeroclub) and with the Great Patriotic war heating up, many new recruits were eager to get flying and mastering skills as quickly as possible and as often as eager students tend to do,
"...young pilots often ask how they can learn to fly a fighter quickly; I came to the conclusion that the main thing is to master the technique of pilotage and firing. If a fighter pilot can control his plane automatically, he can correctly carry out a maneuver [sic], quickly approach an enemy, aim at his plane precisely and destroy him. It is also important to be resourceful in any situation."[11]

Keeping a cool head and knowing your surroundings were critical for setting up a battle to the attacker's advantage and here, "the main thing was to attack enemy planes during turns, ascents or descents, and not to lose precious seconds..."[11] because any second lost was an opportunity for the opponent to turn the tables and take any advantage away.

Media

  • Ivan Kozhedub posing with a group of classmates at the Air Force Academy, 1945.
  • Kozhedub demonstrating maneuvers to a group of pilots in Korea.
  • Kozhedub posing in front of his La-5FN fighter.


Ivan Kozhedub - Early video clips [aircraftube]


Litvyak, Lydia V.

  • First female fighter pilot to shoot down an enemy aircraft
  • First female ace
Lydia V. Litvyak
Lydia Litvyak profile.jpg
Лидия В. ЛитвякRussian spelling
USSR CountryIcon SUN.pngCountry fought for
WW II Military History
Soviet military air forces (VVS)Branch
1941-1943Years served
Military rank
Junior LieutenantFebruary 1943
Senior LieutenantMay 1943
Flight CommanderJune 1943
Missing in ActionAugust 1943
Service record
66Combat missions flown
12Confirmed aerial victories
YesAce
Aircraft Flown
Item own.png
Po-2
po-2.png
pre-war
Item own.png
Yak-1
yak-1_early.png
1942-1943
Item own.png
Yak-1B
yak-1b.png
1943
Aircraft shot down
1Observation Balloon

General

Lydia Vladimirovna Litvyak, born in 1921 in Moscow and found an early love of aviation where she enrolled in a local flying club at the age of 14.[12][13] By age 15, Litvyak had performed her first solo flight.[14] By the time she was 18, Litvyak had become a flight instructor at the Kalinin Airclub and training 45 pilots by the time the German-Soviet war broke out in 1941.[15] By June 1941 Litvyak applied to join a military aviation unit, however, the recruiter noted that she did not have enough flight hours (1,000 total flight hours were needed) and rejected her application. Undeterred, Litvyak went to the next closest recruiting office and listed her pre-war flight time at over 1,000 hours, thus “meeting” the requirements, she was admitted into Soviet military aviation.[15][13]

After military basic training, Litvyak was assigned to Marina Raskova’s female air combat unit, Air Group 122, which included three regiments, the 586th Fighter Regiment, 687th Bomber regiment along with the famous 588th Night Bomber Regiment (the Night Witches).[14][12][13] Litvyak was assigned to the 586th Fighter regiment where she was selected to and trained on the single-seat Yakovlev Yak-1 fighter aircraft. At the time more advanced fighter aircraft such as the LaGG-3 was reserved for male pilots, whereas the female pilots were allotted the older Yak-1 aircraft.[12]

Litvyak was not a cookie-cutter military recruit and often found ways to express her individuality, including bleaching her hair with peroxide after being required to cut it short and adding a fur collar to her standard-issued military uniform. In spite of her rebelliousness, Raskova determined that Litvyak was a “brilliant pilot with instincts and gifts no training could provide.”[14]

War Experience

Lydia Litvyak’s first opportunity to fly combat patrols started in the summer of 1942 where she and others were assigned to fly defence missions over the city of Saratov, an important city and major port on the Volga River. After a successful assignment, Litvyak and other female pilots were transferred to a male flying regiment near Stalingrad (current-day Russian: Волгогра́д, English: Volgograd).[12] It was here on September 13, 1942, in which Litvyak was pitted in her first dogfight against Jagdgeschwader 53, one of Germany’s most lethal fighter units at the time.[13] It was during this event in which Litvyak shot down her first two enemy aircraft, a Ju 88 bomber and a Bf 109 G-2 piloted by German 11-kill ace Erwin Meier.[14] After Meier was allowed to meet the pilot who shot him down, he was shocked when it turned out to be Litvyak and refused to believe it was her until she explained in great detail the dogfight which lead to his being shot down.[12][15] Upon realizing the truth, he offered his gold watch to Litvyak as a sign of his respect where she stated:

Quote icon.png

"I don’t accept gifts from my enemies."

— Lydia Litvyak, after meeting German Bf 109 pilot Erwin Maier, whom she shot down earlier that day.


This began a series of successful missions in which she proved herself as a fighter pilot and earned the respect of the other pilots. Over the next few months, Litvyak racked up several more kills both as the sole attacker and shared attacks with fellow pilots of German Ju 88 bombers, Bf 109s and a Fw 190. Opportunities for combat lessened, mostly due to the senior leadership of Litvyak’s flying regiment and so she was transferred to the 9th Guard Fighter Regiment in early January 1943.[15] The men of this unit flew LaGG-3s and so the squadron did not have the facilities to repair the Yak-1 fighters. Coupled with this and the units upgrade to Bell P-39 Aerocobras, the female pilots with their Yaks were moved to the 73rd Guard Fighter Regiment which did have facilities to repair the Yaks.[14] It was here with the 73rd that Litvyak was promoted to Junior Lieutenant. Due to her fierceness in the air and her proven abilities, Litvyak was selected to participate in an experiment dubbed “Okhotniki” or “free-hunter”, an elite aerial fighting tactic which allowed specific pilots to fly in pairs, hunting the skies for enemy aircraft to seek and destroy at will and racked up a few more aerial victories.

In May of 1943, the German artillery was utilizing an observation balloon to report the location of Soviet soldiers, snipers and equipment to German artillery crews on the ground with great success. Attempts were made to destroy the balloon, however, all Soviet fighter attacks which attempted to attack the balloon were repulsed by heavy anti-aircraft fire.[12] Litvyak volunteered to attack the balloon but was turned down. For Litvyak, “no” meant looking for another way to get the job done. This time she approached her flight commander with a plan to fly a wide circle around the active battlefield and attack the balloon from the rear from over German-occupied territory. The plan was accepted and Litvyak took off. The plan worked flawlessly as she was able to come in from the rear of the balloon and get close enough to ignite the hydrogen-filled balloon with her tracer bullets, sending it to the ground in a crumpled heap.[14]

August 1943 proved to be Lydia Litvyak’s final flights where on her 4th sortie of the day on August 1st escorting IL-2 attackers, her flight was attacked by German Bf 109s. Focused on attacking a Ju 88 bomber, Litvyak did not see the two Bf 109s descend on her tail.[14] Another pilot from her flight, Ivan Borisenko recalled, “Lily just didn’t see the Messerschmitt 109s flying cover for the German Bombers. A pair of them dived on her and when she did see them she turned to meet them. Then they disappeared behind a cloud.” Borisenko last saw Litvyak’s Yak through a gap in the clouds which at that time was pouring out smoke and at that point being pursued by as many as eight Bf 109s. When an opportunity presented itself, Borisenko descended below the clouds but did not see her, a parachute or results of an explosion, however, she never returned from that mission.[15][13]

Litvyak was listed as missing in action, however, the full truth is not known. There are accounts of a Yak-1 discovered near the battlefield with a female who had a fatal head wound and was buried in a village nearby, however, there are also accounts of a female pilot parachuting to safety and then captured by German forces. Also listed is an account of fellow POWs recognizing her in a POW camp. Stalin was known to state any Russians taken as POW were considered to be traitors, so it is possible if she was captured, she may have avoided returning to a hostile Soviet Union. To this day there are many speculations as to the end of Lydia Litvyak, but no definite proof.

Aircraft flown
  • Yak-1 - White 02
  • Yak-1 - Red 32
  • Yak-1 - Yellow 44
  • Yak-1 - White 23
  • Yak-1b – unknown

Preferred Tactics

Lydia Litvyak, was a fearless pilot who took to the skies in her Yak-1 fighter, an underdog when compared to the German Bf 109s both in firepower and overall aircraft characteristics, never-the-less, Litvyak outperformed even some of Germany’s best.[16] One tactic Litvyak utilised was to attack the bombers, in doing so, this would bring in the escorting Bf 109s which she would then work into a dogfight. Not all fights went in her favour as she brought back to base several heavily beat-up aircraft including one which she had to belly-land. Even when wounded, she opted to get back into a fighter and return to the melee. Litvyak also found success when hunting with a partner and teaming up on enemy aircraft brought down a number of them.[14] It was a combination of instinct and brute force which kept Litvyak fighting even when at against all odds until the end.

Media

  • A decorated Lydia Litvyak posing in front of a Pe-2 bomber.
  • Senior Lieutenant Litvyak standing on the wing of her Yak-1B
  • Senior Lieutenant Litvyak posing in her flightsuit.


Heroines of the Soviet Union - Lydia Litvyak [Posadist Pacman ]


Pokryshkin, Alexander I.

  • The first pilot to achieve Hero of the Soviet Union three times[17]
  • All time highest scoring pilot in an American made fighter (47 kills in a P-39)
Alexander I. Pokryshkin
Alexander Pokryshkin profile.jpg
Алекса́ндр И. Покры́шкинRussian spelling
USSR CountryIcon SUN.pngCountry fought for
WW II Military History
Soviet military air forces (VVS)Branch
1939-1972Years served
Military rank
MechanicNovember 1933
Senior Aviation MechanicDecember 1934
Sr. Lieutenant1939
Captain1944
MajorJune 1943
Deputy Commander1968-1971
Air Marshal1972
Service record
560Combat missions flown
59Confirmed aerial victories
YesAce
Aircraft Flown
Item own.png
MiG-3-15
mig_3_series_1_15.png
1941
Item own.png
Yak-1B
yak-1b.png
1942
Item prem.png
▂P-39K-1
p-39k_1.png
1942
Item prem.png
▂Pokryshkin's P-39N-0
p-39n_su.png
1943-1945
Item prem.png
▂P-39Q-15
p-39q_15.png
1943
Aircraft shot down
5Ju 52
4Hs 126

General

Alexander Ivanovich Pokryshkin was of Russian ethnicity, born in Novosibisk (Siberia). Pokryshkin’s father was a first generation factory worker and due to not having much money, the family was raised in the poor and crime-ridden part of town.[17] Rather than following the crowd, Pokryshkin followed his own path which noted by his peers as they called him “Engineer”. While at an airshow when he was 12 years old, Pokryshkin developed a fascination for flying. After finishing school, he found work as a construction worker, however, this was not to last very long as in 1930 he left home to attend a technical college where he excelled and earned his degree in 18 months. Finishing this, Pokryshkin then enlisted in the army to follow his dreams and be sent to aviation school. Unfortunately the flight school was closed and all of the cadets were transferred to become aircraft mechanics. Although requests for transfer were made, none were granted.[17]

Determined not to let this drag him down, Pokryshkin decided to put in his all and excel as a mechanic. Graduating from the mechanic school in 1933, he then rose quickly through the ranks and by December 1934 was promoted to Senior Aviation Mechanic with the 74th Rifle Division where he worked until 1938. While working as a flight mechanic, Pokryshkin worked at improving the equipment he worked on which included making improvements to the ShKAS machine guns and the R-5 reconnaissance aircraft.[17] This would ultimately play to his favour later on when higher-ups would try to have him court-martialed. During vacation times, Pokryshkin studied flight manuals and enrolled in a local aeroclub where he learned to fly glider aircraft. During one stint of leave, tested for engine powered aircraft and was able to perform a solo flight and earn his flying license in just under three weeks. Having this flying license automatically qualified him for flight school in which he was accepted.

War Expierence

Pokryshkin’s first assignment took him very close to the battlefront, into Moldavia, June 1941. On June 22nd, the first day of the war, his airfield was bombed, however, he and his aircraft survived without incident. Unfortunately, the next day was his first combat experience which ended in disaster. While patrolling with his squad in MiG-3s, he happened upon an aircraft which he had never seen, taking the opportunity, he opened fire and shot down the aircraft. To his horror, as the aircraft was going down, he noticed the red star on the wings. This aircraft was the new secret Soviet Su-2 light bomber and to prevent his wingmates from shooting down any others, Pokryshkin flew between them and the bombers to prevent any other loss. Pokryshkin was vindicated as the next day he and a wingman were jumped by five Bf 109s where he was able to shoot one down. He scored several more victories, however as luck would have it, he was shot down by German flak behind enemy lines. Pokryshkin spent the next four days working his way back to his base.[17]

Quote icon.png

"One who hasn't fought in 1941–1942 has not truly tasted war".

— Alexander Pokryshkin


Early on in the fighting, Pokryshkin began to realize that the aerial combat doctrine taught by the Soviets was extremely outdated and he began to take extensive notes of battles and dogfights he and others were going through, looking to find a more efficient and better way to tactically fight.[17] Combat at that time was a treasure trove of information in which Pokryshkin took very detailed notes and ideas to improve over the outdated tactics. Items which he had to factor in were that Soviet pilots were in constant retreat, lacked controlling assistance from HQ and always up against a superior opponent with the odds stacked against them. Pokryshkin had his work cut out for him.[18]

In 1942, Pokryshkin’s squadron was outfitted with the Yak-1 fighter (replacing the MiG-3). Still the underdog against the German Bf 109s, he employed his new tactics with much success. During one light bomber/attacker escort, Pokryshkin was jumped by two Bf 109G-2 “Gustav” fighters. Now separated from his wingman, Pokryshkin attempted to dive away, however realizing the German fighters were faster and heavier, it would only be a matter of time before they would catch up, so he manoeuvred into a chandelle and then barrel-rolled which caused the first Gustav to overshoot, placing him within the Yak’s gunsights. Pokryshkin opened fire and shot the Gustav down. Although Pokryshkin’s aircraft was damaged by the second Gustav, he performed another barrel roll causing the Bf 109 to slide forward into gun range and was subsequently shot down. Pokryshkin proved that a lesser aircraft could outperform a superior aircraft if the proper tactics were employed.[17]

Later during the summer of 1942, the Yak-1 fighters were replaced by the newer lend-lease American P-39 fighters.[17] While not a favourite aircraft of the American pilots and ultimately rejected by the British, the P-39s found a home with the Soviets who put the fighters to good use. The tide was beginning to turn in the Soviets favour as they started to implement Pokryshkin’s tactics which included stacking different aircraft at different altitudes, basically creating a net so that any incoming enemy fighters if attempting to escape would be intercepted by the different layers of Soviet aircraft.[18] Also at this time, ground-based radar, forward controllers and advanced central ground control systems were implemented which were able to help feed real-time information to the pilots in the air and give them a head start on inbound enemy aircraft.

Now outfitted with the P-39K-1s, Pokryshkin once again began to pounce on the Germans. His very first combat flight in the P-39 netted him one Bf 109, however, days later he scored four more and another 8 over the next couple weeks. One of the tactics Pokryshkin learned was that German flights tended to become disoriented and demoralized when the flight leader was shot down and would typically retreat, so he started attacking the flight leader on the initial run into a group. Taking on the most experienced enemy was a difficult task, however with that pilot out of the way it was much easier for his wingmates to go after the rest that did not flee. It was on 23 June 1943 that Pokryshkin traded in his P-39K-1 “White 13” for the now-famous P-39N-0 known as “White 100”. White 100 was Pokryshkin’s call sign for the rest of the war and became a call sign feared by German pilots. Transferred down to Ukraine, when escorting Pe-2 bombers, Pokryshkin would break radio silence to announce he was flying and during those times, the Pe-2 bombers performed their tasks without the threat of German fighters because they would not fly when “White 100” was in the air.[18][17]


Quote icon.png

"Achtung! Achtung! Pokryshkin ist in der Luft" (English: "Attention! Attention!, Pokryshkin is in the air")

— Typical German notification to fighters that Pokryshkin was in the air after his plane was spotted or he announced over the radio "Внимание! Я-сотка. Поеду на работу! (English: "Attention! I am '100' and am going to work!")


Tactics

Pokryskin rewrote the tactical doctrine for Soviet fighters to replace the outdated doctrine he was trained with. It was crucial as a pilot to have advantages which included altitude, speed, manoeuvrability all of which put you behind the enemy to fire on them.[18][17] Even when outclassed and overmatched, tactics could equal the playing field or even transfer the advantage if the pilot knew what they were doing.

Quote icon.png

"The battle training of a fighter pilot, as I see it, is complex process... the formula: altitude, speed, maneuver, and fire."[18]

— Alexander Pokryshkin


Especially true with the P-39 fighters was the need to be in close when firing as the 37 mm shell had a slower velocity than machine gun rounds and with enough distance could be avoided, in close, it was much more difficult. The new doctrine also included flying with wingmates or squads to allow for watching each other’s backs whether firing at the enemy or just announcing their positions so the wingmates could avoid them. Demoralization was another tactic Pokryshkin employed to great success where he would exclusively target the enemy squad leaders (typically German aces themselves) and eliminate them first. This aggressiveness often caused the enemy fighters to become disoriented or flee the area in retreat. So effective were the tactics, just calling out that “100” was flying in the area kept the Germans from flying that day.


Aircraft Flown
  • MiG-3 - 7
  • MiG-3 - 4
  • MiG-3 - 01
  • MiG-3 - White 5'
  • MiG-3 - 67
  • Yak-1B - unknown
  • P-39K-1 - White 13
  • P-39N-0 - White 100
  • P-39N-5 - White 100
  • P-39D - White 17
  • P-39Q-15 - White 50

Media


  • Image of Alexander Pokryshkin standing at the door of a P-39 lend-lease fighter.
  • Alexander Pokryshkin and fellow squademate Dmitry Glinka standing before one of their lend-lease P-39 fighters.
  • Pokryshkin standing in front of a La-7 gifted to his squadron, however, he ultimately rejected these fighters and stayed with the P-39s.

Zhukovsky, Sergey Y.

General

War Expierence

Tactics

Media

Great Britain

Bader, Douglas R.S.B.

  • British fighter ace who flew with no legs.
Sir Douglas Bader
Douglas Bader profile.jpg
Great Britain CountryIcon GBR.pngCountry fought for
WW II Military History
Royal Air ForceBranch
1928-1933Years served
1934-1938Medicaly retired
1939-1946Years served
Military rank
Officer Cadet1928
Pilot Officer1930
Flight Lieutenant1940
Acting Wing Commander1941
Group Captain1946
Service record
22Confirmed aerial victories
YesAce
Aircraft Flown
Item own.png
Spitfire Mk IIa
spitfiremkiia.png
1940
Item own.png
Hurricane Mk I/L
hurricane_mk1.png
1940
Item own.png
Spitfire Mk Vb
spitfire_mk5b_notrop.png
1941
Item own.png
Spitfire F  Mk IX
spitfire_ix_early.png
1945
Aircraft shot down

General

Sir Douglas Robert Steuart Bader was born in London, England in 1910. Bader’s father fought in World War I, however, due to injuries sustained in the war, died in 1922. Bader’s mother remarried, however, due to his high energy levels and unruliness, Bader was sent away often to his grandparent's house and later was sent as a border to a prep school. This proved to be what he needed as sports became his outlet for expending energy and competitiveness. Rugby and any other physical confrontations with bigger and older opponents became his go to.[19]

At the age of 13, during a holiday trip to visiting his aunt and future uncle, RAF pilot Cyril Burge, Bader was given a tour of an Avro 504 biplane. Although interested in the visit, Bader did not give much thought to becoming a pilot. Bader was accepted to Cambridge and it was at this time that his uncle Cyril Burge let him know of a cadetship offered at RAF Air Force College Cranwell each year for six students. Bader applied and finished in fifth place and at the age of 18, leaving his school early.[19]

At RAF Cranwell, officer cadet Bader continued his studies and expanded the types of sports he participated in to include hockey and boxing. Bader also found himself participating in banned activities which included speeding with motorcycles and racing motorcars. His studies lacked, causing him to almost be kicked out not only for grades but for being caught too many times participating in banned activities.[19]

Having just barely passed, Bader began flight instruction in September 1928 and after just over 11 hours of flight time, he made his first solo flight. Upon finishing flight school Bader was commissioned a pilot officer and was assigned to No. 23 Squadron RAF where he flew Gloster Gamecocks and Bristol Bulldogs.[19] Bader’s competitiveness and thrill-seeking nature led him to perform unauthorized aerobatics with the biplanes, pushing what both he and they could do. In 1931 at an upcoming airshow, Bader and a teammate Harry Day were scheduled to participate in a “Paris” event consisting of acrobatics in competition with another squadron. During a practice session and apparently on a dare while flying a Bulldog Mk. IIA, Bader made a low pass in which his left wing touched the ground causing the aircraft to slam down, pinning Bader in the wreckage. Once pulled free, Bader was immediately taken to the hospital where both of his legs were amputated, one below the knee, the other above.[20][19]

Quote icon.png

"Crashed slow-rolling near ground. Bad show."

—  Entry into Douglas Bader's logbook shortly after crashing.

It took most of a year for Bader to recover from the accident and work to regain many of his former abilities after being fitted for prosthetic legs. Grit and determination learned from early life helped him here as he learned to drive a car, play golf and even qualified to fly again after a trial flight in an Avro 504. While initially, his military medical examination proved him fit, the R.A.F. turned and medically retired Bader.[19]

In October 1939, with the threat of war looming and with help from personal friends in the military, Bader was given a second chance to qualify for a flying position. Upon completing refresher courses, Bader was once again medically qualified to fly. Almost eight years after his accident, Bader performed a solo flight in an Avro Tutor and true to form, did the unthinkable to most and turned the biplane upside down flying about 600 feet off the ground. Soon after, Bader trained on Fairey Battle and Miles Master aircraft which were stepping-stones in preparation for flying Spitfires and Hurricanes.

War Experience

Bader’s first assignment was to be with No. 19 Squadron which was based out of RAF Duxford. At age 29, Bader was older than most of his fellow pilots. It was here that he got his first look at the legendary Spitfire fighter. Here Bader practised air tactics, formation flying and even flights out over the ocean with sea convoys to practice navigation. Like other pilots such as Alexander Pokryshkin, Bader found that R.A.F. combat doctrine, flying in a line-astern and attacking enemy aircraft singly to be outdated where he preferred to utilise altitude and attacking from the sun to ambush enemy aircraft. He was ordered to learn the R.A.F. doctrine and did so with great skill which aided in his rapid promotion. In June 1940 Bader had his first taste of combat while flying near the coast of Dunkirk at around 3,000 feet. While flying, Bader noticed a Bf 109 flying in front of him heading in the same direction and at about the same speed. It wasn’t long before Bader caught up and downed the 109. Later that day, Bader was also credited with damaging a Bf 110 twin-engine fighter. On his next patrol flight, he was credited with damaging a He 111 bomber and then later while patrolling around allied shipping, almost collided with a Do 17 while firing at the bomber’s rear gunner during a high-speed pass.

On 28 June 1940, Bader was switched to No. 242 Squadron R.A.F. and became acting squadron leader of a Hawker Hurricane unit which was mostly made up of Canadians, a unit which had suffered many losses and was plagued with low morale. Initially resistant of the new commanding officer, the Canadian pilots soon followed their new champion due to his strong personality. With the struggling squadron reactivated and clear to fly, 242 once again became an effective flying unit.[19]

On 10 July 1940, the Battle of Britain officially began and Bader’s squadron began to score kills. During inclement weather on one flight, Bader happened upon a Do 17 while only 600 yards out and when reaching approximately 250 yards, the rear gunner opened fire. Bader pressed his attack and fired two bursts into the bomber, which crashed into the ocean, confirmed by the Royal Observer Corps.[19] 21 August saw a similar situation where Bader sent another Do 17 into the ocean. August also saw Bader claim four Bf 110 twin-engine fighters, however during one engagement, he was jumped by a Bf 109 and was almost ready to bail out of his Hurricane but was able to recover the aircraft and limp it back to base.[19]

September action slowed a little but Bader claimed several Do 17 and Ju 88 bombers. Sadly, when one of the Do 17 gunners attempted to bail out, his parachute snagged on the 17’s tail wheel and drug him to his death when the aircraft crashed into the ocean. Apparently, Bader took pity on the gunner and tried to kill him to spare him from the rest of the fall, but could not reach him in time.[19]

Starting in March of 1941, Bader received a promotion to acting wing commander and was stationed at Tangmere. This assignment rolled three squadrons under his command, the 145, 610 and 616 Squadrons.[20] In an attempt to divide the Germans and keep them fighting on two fronts (Eastern Europe/Russia and Western Europe), Bader’s wing of Spitfire fighters would perform sweeps over German-held territory and what was called “Circus” operations. Circus operations involved utilising medium bombers escorted with Spitfires to perform bombing operations, not necessarily to inflict heavy damage to ground structures, but more to keep the German Luftwaffe tied up trying to repel these attacks.

In the late spring of 1941, the wing’s Spitfires were all being replaced by the newer Spitfire VBs which carried two 20 mm Hispano cannons and four .303 machines guns in the wings. Bader instead opted to fly a Spitfire Mk. VA which did not have the 20 mm cannons, but had a total of eight .303 machine guns. It was his opinion due to his tactics of using a close-in approach that the lower calibre machine guns were more devastating than the 20 mm cannons. Here while flying in France, Bader typically encountered Bf 109s and shot down a handful over the summer as he flew over 60 fighter sweeps through France.

Bader’s last flight occurred on 9 August 1941 while he was patrolling the French coast in his Spitfire Mk. VA looking for Bf 109s. Unlike most days, his typical (and trusted) wingman was sick and could not fly, so Bader flew with three other aircraft from his squadron. Not long after crossing over to France, Bader spotted 12 Bf 109s flying in formation below their position. Initiating the attack, Bader dove, however, his angle was too steep and too fast to realize a gun solution and barely missed colliding with one of the 109s. Pulling up to extend away, Bader levelled out around 24,000 feet but found he was all alone, his wingmen nowhere to be found. Considering returning to base, Bader noticed three pair of Bf 109s several miles ahead of him. Bader dropped down in altitude to gain speed and came up under the 109s, the opened with a short burst from in close, destroying one of the German fighters. He was in the process of attacking a second when it started to trail white smoke and descend and noticed two of the other 109s off of his right, coming at him. He banked away and then believed he had a mid-air collision with one of the other pair of 109s.[20]

The back half of Bader’s aircraft from the cockpit on was gone and his fighter began to rapidly descend in a slow spinning fashion. Knowing he could not stay with the aircraft, he followed the bailout procedure by jettisoning his canopy and releasing his harness pin. The air now rushing into the cockpit started to force him out, however, his artificial leg became trapped in the rudder pedals and would not release. Bader’s only thought was to release his parachute and hopefully pull the leg free. It worked, however, the straps for the artificial leg broke, remaining with the aircraft, however, Bader was free and floating to the ground. Later looking through R.A.F. records, it is believed that another Spitfire pilot mistook Bader for a Me 109, this pilot described in detail of the “Bf 109” whose tail had come off and the pilot bailed out. German records (searched through by Adolf Galland himself concluded that no Bf 109’s had collided that day nor do any of the flight reports – even those of German pilots killed in action matched Bader’s incident). Bader’s artificial leg which was lodged in the aircraft when he bailed out was subsequently found in a field, however, it was badly damaged.

Upon his capture by the Germans, Bader was treated with great respect because of his being a double amputee and a fighter pilot. General Adolf Galland, in an attempt to help Bader, petitioned the British Government safe passage to bring a replacement leg, the operation was approved at the highest level on the German side by Hermann Göring himself. The British responded on 19 August 1941 by sending “Leg Operation” which included six Bristol Blenheim bombers with a good size fighter escort to parachute the replacement leg at a Luftwaffe base in St Omer.[20] Bader spent the next several years a prisoner of war, however every chance he got, he attempted to escape or practised “goon baiting” as the practice was to cause as much trouble to his captors as was possible or to play mind-games with them in an attempt to get them to lose their composure. Bader was ultimately placed in Colditz Castle Oflag IV-C on 18 August 1942 which was determined to be escape-proof. Bader remained here until 15 April 1945 when the United States Army liberated the facility. After his repatriation to Britain, in June 1945 a victory flyover London of 300 aircraft was conducted and Bader was given the honour of leading the entire flight in a Spitfire Mk IX.

Tactics

Quote icon.png

"If you had the height, you controlled the battle...if you came out of the sun, the enemy could not see you...if you held your fire until you were very close, you seldom missed."

—  Douglas Bader


Bader was a fearless pilot which stems from his thrill-seeking adrenaline junkie attitude he portrayed early on when racing motorcycles and fast cars. He did not have any issues with pushing an aircraft to its limits and was a natural when it came to performing aerobatics. Early on in his career and life, he survived a gruesome low altitude plane crash which resulted in the amputation of both of his legs. Such was his determination that within a year he was back racing cars and flying aircraft to prove he could still be a pilot with the R.A.F. Much of what he learned from racing and aerobatics bled over into his ideas on how to be the best fighter pilot he could be. While he was forced to learn the doctrines of the R.A.F., he never just left it at that and implemented what he learned from combat not only for himself but also for those pilots which flew under his command.

Bader’s philosophy of having altitude, speed and surprise, you could be devastating as a fighter pilot. Several instances during his flying suggested that he flew extremely close to enemy aircraft and at times almost colliding. At one point when attacking a German bomber and realizing he was out of ammunition, Bader contemplated taking out the enemy’s tail rudder with his propeller. With Bader’s preference for in-close fighting (200 – 300 meters), he preferred to have all machine guns on his aircraft instead of a combination of machine guns and autocannons. When his squadron was being upgraded to Spitfire Vb fighters, he chose to retain the Spitfire Va which had eight .303 machine guns as opposed to six .303 machine guns and two 20 mm cannons. It was Bader’s belief that when in close, the eight machine guns could be used with devastating effect.

While most people would think that Bader was at a severe disadvantage being a double amputee, he proved that it actually was a benefit when it came to being a fighter pilot. Without his lower legs, he was able to make tighter turns and maneuvers without suffering the same G-force effects as normal pilots because the blood could only pool so far in his legs and it would take longer and more G-force before he would get to the point of blacking out. In effect his amputation was like later flight suits which would squeeze the pilots legs during high G-force maneuvers, restricting the blood flow to the lower extremities.

Media

  • Douglas Bader carefully maneuvering his prosthetic legs as he enteres his Spitfire's cockpit. While the artificial legs allowed him to fly, they almost prevented him from bailing out of his disabled aircraft when he was shot down in 1941.
  • Douglas Bader posing on his Hawker Hurricane Mk.I in 1940.
  • Bader (center) and members of his squadron 242 posing before the noseart on his aircraft depicting a book kicking Hitler in the rear-end.

  • The WWII Flying Ace with No Legs (Strange Stories) - Simple History


    Plagis, Ioannis "John" A.

    • Top-scoring Southern Rhodesian ace of the war, and the highest-scoring ace of Greek origin
    John Plagis
    John Plagis portrait.jpg
    Γιάννη ΠλαγήGreek spelling
    Great Britain CountryIcon GBR.pngCountry fought for
    WW II Military History
    Royal Air ForceBranch
    1941-1948Years served
    Military rank
    Seargeant1941
    Flight Officer1942
    Flight Leader1943
    Squadron Leader1945
    Service record
    16Confirmed aerial victories
    YesAce
    Aircraft Flown
    Item own.png
    Spitfire Mk Vb/trop
    spitfire_mk5b.png
    1942
    Item own.png
    Spitfire Mk Vc
    spitfire_mk5c_notrop.png
    1943-1944
    Item prem.png
    Plagis' Spitfire LF Mk IXc
    spitfire_ix_plagis.png
    1944
    Item own.png
    P-51
    p-51_mk1a_usaaf.png
    1944
    Item own.png
    Meteor F Mk 3
    meteor_fmk3.png
    1945+
    Aircraft shot down

    General

    Born in Hartley, South Rhodesia (current day Zimbabwe) in 1919, Ioannis Agorastos (John) Plagis was born to Greek parents who immigrated from the Aegean island of Lemnos. In 1939 when Britain and German commenced hostilities, John headed to the recruiting station and attempted to volunteer with the Rhodesian Air Force.[21] His application was denied due to the fact that he was still considered a Greek Subject due to his parents being Greek and having been born before the 1923 referendum when Southern Rhodesia became an independent colony in the British Empire. England, however, was desperate for volunteers and accepted Plagis’ application into the Royal Air Force of Britain, beginning service with the R.A.F. in 1940.[22]

    War Experience

    For Plagis, military training began in Southern Rhodesia, however, he didn’t begin operationally flying until the tail end of the Battle of Britain while based out of Britain. Early operations included flights over France, Holland and Belgium escorting bombers and looking for targets of opportunity. In 1942 an opportunity for Plagis to volunteer to reinforce Malta as they were under constant bombardment from the Germans and Italians. One of the first 16 Spitfires loaded on the H.M.S Eagle aircraft carrier, Plagis and several other fellow colony pilots (one other from Rhodesia, four from Australia, two from New Zealand and eight from England) headed for Malta.[22] Upon their arrival, they went into immediate actions, always outnumbered by enemy aircraft. It was only a matter of weeks before many of the pilots had been killed and most of the aircraft had been lost or badly damaged. England tried several more times to ferry in aircraft and pilots, but fewer were making the journey. Plagis once quipped that “...we at all times fought the enemy with great odds against us, in fact, if four of us were airborne and we encountered twenty enemy fighters and bombers, we considered it a reasonable fight.” In one day during four separate flights, Plagis and three wingmates intercepted and attacked 180 bombers which were escorted by 80 fighters, personally tallying up four destroyed, one damaged and one probably destroyed (not confirmed) without loss of any Spitfires. Total enemy aircraft destroyed while stationed in Malta tallied at 11, with two others probably destroyed and five more damaged.[21]

    Quote icon.png

    "It is difficult to single out one fighter pilot and make comparisons but because pilot officer Plagis shot down four enemy aircraft, he is worthy of special mention. He flies a Spitfire and with it he is devastating."

    — His Majesty King George VI, as stated on the Distinguished Flying Cross citation presented to Pilot Officer John Plagis.[22]


    Plagis was sent back to England where he was found to be malnourished and had both a mental and physical breakdown.[21] After convalescing, he was assigned to No 64 Squadron in Coltishall in Southern England. Here his duties included bomber escort duty and armed recon patrols where he was able to tally up to two more German aircraft shot down. During July 1944, Plagis was promoted to Squadron Commander in charge of No 126 Squadron in which he racked up four more kills. Plagis participated in Operation Market-Garden and during the battle was shot down by anti-aircraft flak over Arnhem. The disabled Spitfire ended up crashing at a high rate of speed, however, Plagis walked away with only minor injuries.[22][21] Later in 1944, No 126 Squadron was upgraded from their Spitfires to Mustang IIIs (essentially P-51B Mustangs) which he flew to the end of the war performing bomber escort.[21] After the war ended, Plagis was sent back to his home country of Rhodesia and continued to serve the R.A.F. there. It wasn’t long until he was called back to England and at the personal request of Lord Tedder, Plagis flew the new Meteor jet aircraft for the next three years. It was at this time he was specifically tasked with giving an exhibition of aerobatics in the jet fighter for various foreign delegations in many city-centres in Europe. In 1948, Plagis received his discharge orders and returned to Salisbury, Rhodesia.[22]

    Preferred Tactics

    Typically outnumbered while flying in Malta, Plagis learned to rely on wingmates to help balance out air battles where they were at a disadvantage. No time for single glory heroics the Spitfire pilots would work on separating enemy fighters and working them into a position where any of the chase aircraft could line up a firing solution. Teamwork ensured safety with more eyes looking out for enemy fighters trying to sneak into the fight.

    Media

    War Thunder's Weapons of Victory - Plagis' Spitfire Mk. IXc

    • John Plagis posing in front of his Spitfire Mk IX.
    • John Plagis sitting on the wing of his Spitfire in Malta showing off his tally marks of confirmed German and Italian aircraft he shot down.
    • John Plagis seated in the cockpit of his Spitfire close to the end of his tour in England, shortly before converting over to Mustang III aircraft.

    Japan

    Iwamoto Tetsuzō

    • Japan's top ace of the Second Sino-Japanese War (war with China 1937 - 1945)
    • Shot down 48 F4U Coursair fighters, 1-in-4 of all F4U air-to-air losses in WW II were at the hands of Iwamoto Tetsuzō.
    Iwamoto Tetsuzō
    Tetsuzo Iwamoto Profile.jpg
    岩本 徹三Japanese spelling
    Japan Japan flag.pngCountry fought for
    WW II Military History
    Imperial Japanese NavyBranch
    1934-1945Years served
    Military rank
    Sailor Fourth ClassJune 1934
    Sailor Third ClassNovember 1934
    Sailor Second ClassNovember 1935
    Sailor First ClassDecember 1935
    Petty Officer Third ClassMay 1938
    Petty Officer Second ClassNovember 1939
    Petty Officer First ClassMay 1941
    Chief Petty OfficerNovember 1942
    Commissioned EnsignNovember 1944
    Sub-LieutenantSeptember 1945
    Service record
    87Confirmed aerial victories
    YesAce
    Aircraft Flown
    Item own.png
    A5M4
    a5m4.png
    Item own.png
    A6M2
    a6m2_zero.png
    Item own.png
    A6M3
    a6m3_zero.png
    Aircraft shot down
    10Other Chinese aircraft (prewar)
    Aerial victories claimed in Iwamto's diary:
    48F4U
    29F6F
    48SBD
    2B-26
    Aircraft destroyed by 30 kg No.3 aerial bombs
    30SBD

    General

    Tetsuzo Iwamoto was born in 1916 and initially grew up in Sapporo, Japan and later moved to Masuda, Japan. Early subjects in school which interested him included mathematics and geometry. Upon graduation at age 18, Iwamoto’s parents suggested he take college entrance examinations. Iwamoto left home, however to his parents' disappointment, they found out that instead he applied for entrance into the Imperial Japanese Navy, passed the examination and had become an Imperial Japanese naval airman 4th class. Five months later, Iwamoto was promoted to 3rd class. In 1936 he again advanced in rank and was a naval mechanic and crewman on the light carrier Ryūjō. It was during this time he studied hard and passed the IJNAS exam allowing him to attend aviator school. Iwamoto passed the flight training program and later a more formal aviation training which lasted through 1937.

    War Experience

    After graduating from aerial combat training, Iwamoto was assigned to the 13th Flying Group which routinely flew over Nanchang, China. The first opportunity for Iwamoto to participate in combat occurred on 25 February 1938 while escorting Type 96 land-based attack bombers. It was during this time when sixteen Chinese I-15 and I-16 fighters commenced attacking. The first enemy fighter Iwamoto engaged was only 50 m away when he opened fire causing the enemy fighter to ignite and crash. The second target, an I-15 was spotted below him where he descended and pounced on it, causing it to lose control and crash. Next came an I-16 which was at the top of its roll when Iwamoto opened fire, the I-16 was burning and out of control, however, Iwamoto lost sight of it and could only count it as a probable kill. The next I-15 attempted a head-on attack, both aircraft began to climb and dogfight, however, the I-15 attempted to dive away, but this made it an easy target for the Japanese pilot. The final enemy aircraft shot down was an I-16 which was descending with its landing gear extended and at about 200 meters above the ground, Iwamoto opened fire, the I-16 made an immediate split-S manoeuvre, however at that low of an altitude with gear extended, there was no room for error and the I-16 crashed. Iwamoto racked up four confirmed kills in his first aerial confrontation and by the time he was ordered back to Japan, he had flown over 82 sorties and downed a total of 14 enemy aircraft on the Chinese front.

    During the battle of Pearl Harbor, Iwamoto was flying the A6M Zero fighter, however, he did not participate directly in the attacks that day. Instead, Iwamoto was chosen to fly “top cover” or security patrols over the carrier group. Due to the violent battle at Coral Sea and the heavy losses endured by the Japanese, they were ordered back to Japan for resupply and in doing so, Iwamoto missed the opportunity to participate in the battle of Midway. Defeat at Midway necessitated Iwamoto returning to service as a pilot instructor to train many new replacement pilots. With pilots trained, Iwamoto was ordered to Rabaul in 1943 where he lead many new and very inexperienced pilots against the Americans, British and Australian pilots of the US Navy and USAAF. During his time at Rabul, Iwamoto filed documentation stating that he shot down over 140 enemy aircraft.

    Iwamoto seemed to be like a ping pong ball, going back and forth from Japan to the front lines and back again. In 1944, Japanese forces were removed from Rabaul to Japan, but only for a short time when they were ordered to go to the Philippines. When pulled from the Philippians, Iwamoto was ordered to defend Kyushu and Okinawa, however, the last months of the war, Iwamoto was tasked with training kamikaze pilots.

    Iwamoto’s success in the cockpit has been compared to the same strategy of the top Luftwaffe ace pilot, Erich Hartmann where they prefer quick diving attacks with weapons bursts from very close range rather than turning in a dogfight. During the Battle of Coral Sea, US air forces were attacking the Japanese aircraft carrier Shokaku, however, it was here that Petty Officer Iwamoto and a wingman fended off the TBD Devastators, preventing their attempts to torpedo the carrier. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough as Dauntless dive-bombers got through and dropped several 1,000 lb bombs on the carrier deck.[23]

    Preferred Tactics

    Iwamoto had several tactics he employed depending on the circumstance of the aerial battle:

    1 vs. 1
    • Quick Roll: When being followed, begin by skidding sideways to cause a sudden deceleration followed with a 1/2 quick roll causing the attacking aircraft to overshoot, reversing roles of the aircraft, causing the initial target aircraft to become the attacker with a firing solution on the overshot aircraft.
    • Corkscrew Loop: When being followed, initiate a loop and attacker will follow, at the top of the loop, begin a skid-roll which will position your aircraft with guns on the attacker aircraft as they are coming up in the loop.
    • Yo-yo Turn: This manoeuvre can be performed at either high or low speed and can be used to cause overshoot of an attacker or provide enough spacing for a pursuing aircraft to gain a target solution.
      • Causing overshoot: The target aircraft must turn inside the attacking pursuit aircraft, causing the attacker to overshoot, allowing the initial target aircraft to roll onto the initial attackers tail and acquire target solution.
      • Preventing overshoot: When an attacker wants to prevent an overshoot of their target, they must perform a quick climb followed with a quick dive, which absorbs energy, but maintains flight path preventing overshoot of the target.
    Formation Tactics
    • Two Group Linked Formation Attack: The two groups are divided into offensive and defensive formations. The offensive formation utilises Boom & Zoom and diving attacks against the enemy aircraft while the defensive formations oversee the battle and provide high-altitude cover for the offensive group.
    • Rendezvous Attack: Attack enemy aircraft after their mission is over and while they are on the way back to the rendezvous location where they meet up with other aircraft before heading over long distances back to base.
    No.3 Aerial Bomb Attack
    • From the 12 o'clock high position, the attacking fighter will invert itself and dive on its target.
      • Using an almost vertical dive (60 degrees) is required as the 30 kg No.3 aerial bomb requires releasing at speeds over 280 knots to properly work the timer and arm the bomb for the detonator explosion.
      • Due to its excellent flight characteristics, the Zero had to start the dive in the inverted position to allow it to maintain the steep dive angle.

    Media

    Ace of the Month - June - Lt JG Tetsuzo Iwamoto

    • This is an image of five Imperial Japanese Naval pilots including Tetsuzo Iwamoto (back row, left). February 1944.
    • Tetsuzo Iwamoto dressed in flight gear prior to a mission. Standard flight gear included survival flotation vest, flight cap and goggles. The monkeys were not part of the issued gear.

    坂井 三郎 Sakai Saburō

    General

    War Expierence

    Tactics

    Media

    Italy

    Marcolin, Luciano

    General

    War Expierence

    Tactics

    Media

    France

    Challe, René M.P.A.

    • Fought with famed Normandie-Niémen Hunting Regiment out of Tula, USSR
    René Challe
    Rene challe portrait.jpg
    France CountryIcon FRA.pngCountry fought for
    USSR CountryIcon SUN.pngCountry fought for
    WW II Military History
    French Air ForceBranch
    1938-1942Years served
    Military rank
    2nd Lieutenant1938
    Lieutenant1939
    Normandie-Niémen Hunting Regiment (USSR)Branch
    Captain18 March 1944
    Lieutenant ColonelApril 1951
    ColonelOctober 1955
    Service record
    8Confirmed aerial victories
    YesAce
    Aircraft Flown
    Item own.png
    M.S.406C1
    ms_406c1.png
    1939-1940
    Item prem.png
    Challe's ▄Yak-9T
    yak-9t_france.png
    1944-1945
    Aircraft shot down

    General

    René Marie Paul Alexandre Challe and several siblings learned to love flying and the military at an early age. Their father General Georges Challe was in charge of France's 4th Infantry division during World War I, where he would ultimately die in combat 1917. General Challe's younger brother Maurice Challe was a French aviation pioneer after receiving military flight certification in 1911 as the 46th French military aviator. Maurice died in combat in 1916 while performing missions over enemy territory. Patriotism and heroic stories of General Georges Challe and his brother Maurice inspired the Challe children to pursue careers in aviation and with the military.[24]

    Before the start of World War II, René Challe attended military school at St. Cyr and at the Air School in Versailles, upon his 25th birthday Challe received his pilot credentials. Challe would then be assigned to the 3/7 hunting group in the French Air Force. At the beginning of World War II, Challe is promoted to Lieutenant and transferred to 5th group.[24]

    War Experience

    Challe’s early venture into World War II began after Britain and France declared war on Germany. At the time, Challe had entered into the service of the French Air Force and was part of GC III/7. During the Battle of France, he was assigned to fly an M.S.406, a fighter of French design and build. The 406 was not a stellar aircraft, however, it did have a good climb rate and energy retention allowing for repeated dive and climb situations (Boom & Zoom). This aircraft carried two light-weight 7.5 mm machine guns and a single 20 mm Hispano cannon. As Challe found out, one weakness of the aircraft is its lack of armour. While credited with a potential kill shooting down a He 111, while chasing a Do 17 he was able to disable it causing it to crash, but not before the defensive gunners set his M.S.406 alight and Challe took a bullet to the chest, puncturing his right lung. Upon parachuting to the ground, according to one source, peasants mistook for a Luftwaffe pilot and attempted to kill him. Apparently, it took him slinging insults in French before they realised he was a French pilot evacuated him to Bar-le-Duc to recover in a hospital.[25]

    After his recovery, France fell to the Germans and while the military was demobilized, Challe was determined to continue the fight against Germany. In August 1943 in the company of eight other aviators, they attempted to escape through Spain only to be caught and imprisoned. At the end of 1943, they were released to French authorities in Casablanca where they immediately volunteered to serve in the Normandie-Niémen Hunting Regiment which was French pilots flying for the Soviet Union in Soviet-built fighters in the city of Tula. Challe and others began their training on Yak-9 fighter aircraft and he was later assigned to the Yak-9T known as “White 60”. In June 1944, Challe was credited with his first German fighter kill when he downed a Bf 109. In a flight of three Yaks, Challe and his wingmates spotted two Bf 109s, determining they were alone, he dove and came up under one of the 109s and within 100 meters of his target, he opens fire with his 37 mm cannon, shearing off the right-wing of the 109, causing it to enter into a spin and crash into the ground. Challe’s wingmates took care of the remaining 109.[25]

    Later in October 1944, Challe and wingmates happened upon Fw 190 fighters around Eydukhnen, East Prussia. The French manned fighters each took a target and Challe continued to manoeuvre to remain behind the 190 in front of him. At one point the Luftwaffe pilot cut his throttle in an attempt to get Challe to blow past him, however manoeuvres to avoid the overshoot and is able to line up on a slow-moving Fw 190. Several cannon rounds were unloaded into the 190 apparently taking out the pilot as he failed to take evasive action and the disabled aircraft crashed into the ground without a parachute emerging during the descent.[25]

    Challe’s final flight took place on 17 January 1945 when he and two other wingmates took to the skies (a fourth had engine trouble and returned to the airfield). Around 09:00, between Insterburg and Gumbinnen, enemy aircraft were reported, upon arriving in the area, Challe found that Fw 190’s were strafing ground targets with escort aircraft watching from above. Undaunted, Challe and his wingmates select targets and attack. Getting in close range, Challe opened fire and ignited an Fw 190, however, he quickly had to disengage to help his wingmate Marchi who had an enemy on his tail. After taking care of the tail, a third enemy passed by closely and after doing a quick look around, Challe determined it safe to pursue. Challe closed the distance, lined up his shot and immediately his aircraft was rocked by minengeschoß rounds which exploded in his cockpit, one exploding near his throttle quadrant, badly injuring his left hand and forearm. His wingmates were able to relay the location of the pursuing enemy aircraft and Challe was able to avoid further hits and dodged incoming shots with quick rudder adjustments. Out of ammunition, the enemy fighters disengage and Challe is able to limp back to base without the use of his left hand. After safely landing, the ground crew were surprised when Challe did not come bounding from his aircraft in typical fashion and after approaching, understood the severity of Challe’s wounds and aided him out of the aircraft and to the hospital. Soviet doctors wanted to perform an amputation due to the wounds, however, Challe put up a fight and persisted that his arm be saved. The doctors relented and did their best to repair the damage. Challe later recovered from the ordeal with the use of his arm, however, the war ended before he was able to fly again.[25]

    Preferred Tactics

    The 37 mm NS-37 cannon of the Yak-9T was a fearsome weapon, however, due to its reload time and ammunition capacity, "spray and pray" firing tactics were not an option. As Challe demonstrated time and again, for him, the best bet was to manoeuvre his fighter as close to the enemy as possible, sometimes within 100 m and then engage with the cannon. At this range, the cannon had a better chance of hitting its target and as demonstrated by Challe, it could remove a wing or disable a pilot with ease. Challe would wait for the target aircraft to manoeuvre in a fashion which would expose enough surface area to reduce the chance of the 37 mm rounds bouncing or deflecting off of the target aircraft.

    Media

    • Rene and Maurice Challe in front of White 60, a Yak 9T-37. The Challe Brothers had joined the Normandie-Niemen Regiment on 18 March 1944.
    • Rene Challe shares a joke with Kazanov, his Russian Mechanic. In the background is White 60, Challe's personal aircraft carrying the emblem of the French GC HI/7 Fighter Group.


    Other Nations

    Finland

    Juutilainen, Ilmari.

    • Top scoring non-German fighter pilot
    Ilmari Juutilainen
    Ilmari Juutilainen portrait.jpg
    Finland CountryIcon FIN.pngCountry fought for
    WW II Military History
    Finnish Air ForceBranch
    1941-1963Years served
    Military rank
    SergeantMay 1935
    Warrant Officer1941
    Service record
    437Combat missions flown
    94Confirmed aerial victories
    YesAce
    Aircraft Flown
    Fokker D.XXI1939
    Item own.png
    F2A-1
    f2a-1.png
    1940-1943
    Item prem.png
    Bf 109 G-2
    bf-109g-2_romania.png
    1943-44
    Aircraft shot down
    1Li-2
    85Other Russian aircraft

    General

    War Experience

    Tactics

    Media













































    Reference

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