Top Aces of WW2

the Warrior and the Wolfpack by John Shaw
"The Warrior and the Wolfpack" by John Shaw

The Highest Scoring Fighter Pilots Of All Time


Erich 'Bubi' Hartmann Erich Alfred "Bubi" Hartmann aka "Karaya One") - 352, The Ace of Aces flew "...around 1,456 (missions) I think, but I am not sure of the exact number." He engaged in air combat approximately 850 times, was never shot down by an enemy plane and never lost a wingman (Gunther Capito was shot down but survived). He surrendered to the Americans on May 8th 1945 and was subsequently turned over to the Russians. He was 'tried' for 'war crimes' & sentenced to 25 years hard labor. He then spent the next 10 and a half years in Russian Gulags. After his release (obtained through pressure by the West German government), he returned to West Germany, was reunited with his wife Usch (Ursula), and served in the Bundesluftwaffe. He "joined old friends" on 19 Sept. 1993.
Eric Hartmann & Gerd Barkhorn
Eric Hartmann & Gerd Barkhorn, the only members of the 300 Club

Gerd Barkhorn Erich Gerhard "Gerd" Barkhorn - 301, Flew 1104 missions. He was badly hurt in an Me262 crash on April 17th 1945. He surrendered to the Americans at the end of the war but, surprisingly, he was not turned over to the Russians. Instead, the American and British authorities released him in September 1945. He retired as a Major General from the Bundesluftwaffe (postwar German Air Force).
During a winter storm on January 6th 1983, Barkhorn and his wife were involved in a car accident. She died at the scene and Gerd died 2 days later.

Hartmann had this to say about his friend - "Gerd Barkhorn could really enjoy it if someone else was successful. Few men were like this. When I overtook him, he congratulated me with all his heart. He was a man and a leader who really could take his men into hell itself. Everybody would be proud to [die] for this leader. He was the fighter commander of whom every fighter pilot dreams - leader, friend, comrade, father - the best I ever met"


The 200 Club

Gunther Rall Gunther Rall - 275, Flew 621 missions. Shot down 8 times. Badly wounded including the loss of his left thumb during a wild combat session with P-47's of "Zemke's Wolfpack" (see top painting). 'Captured' by the British. Joined Bundesluftwaffe. Retired in 1975. On 4 Oct. 2009, the General was off to re-unite with old friends.
"Bruno" Kittel * Otto "Bruno" Kittel - 267, Flew 583 combat missions. Shot down twice and survived before being KIA February 14th 1945. At the time he was flying a FW190A-8 ("Black 1" #960282) as Staffelkapitan of 2./JG 54.
"Nowi" Nowotny * Walter "Nowi" Nowotny - 258, 1st to 250 kills and in only 442 missions! Ouch. Austrian, KIA November 8th 1944 (by Edward R. Haydon) while flying an Me262 against B-17s. "Nowi", finding himself burning alive, nose dived into the ground. He was 23.

Willi Batz Wilhelm "Willi" Batz - 237, Evaded Soviet capture at war's end. Joined and retired from the Bundesluftwaffe. Died September 11th 1988.
Rudorffer Erich "Rudy" Rudorffer - 224, (12 with a jet) Holds Luftwaffe record of most kills in a single mission with 13. Was shot down 16 times. Bailed out 9 times. Survived the war and served in the Bundesluftwaffe. He retired as a commercial pilot. Was still alive as of 2000 but does not discuss the war years.
"Pritzl" Bar Oskar-Heinz "Pritzl" Bar - 220, (16 with a jet). Disliked by Hermann Göring and denied "Diamonds", Pritzl flew over 1000 missions and survived the war. Unfortunately, he was killed in a civilian plane crash, 28 April 1957, near Braunschweig.

Herman Graf Herman Graf - 212, (1st to 200, and in only 13 months!) Survived the war. Surrendered to the Americans with Hartmann and was turned over to the Russians. Released in 1950. Died 4 November 1988.
Heinrich Ehrler * Heinrich Ehrler - 209, KIA April 4th 1945. After shooting down two B-17's and running out of ammo, Ehrler is reported to have said, " Theo! (Weissenberger) I have run out of ammunition! I am going to ram this one! Auf Wiedersehen! I'll see you in Valhalla!" and then he ramed a third B-17. His body was found the next day.
Theo Weissenberger Theodore "Theo" Weissenberger - 208, Survived the war and was killed in a car racing accident at Nurburgring, June 10th 1950.

Hans Philipp * Hans "Fips" Philipp - 206, KIA October 8th 1943 while flying a FW 190. This kill was claimed by Robert S. Johnson but Luftwaffe eye witnesses say it was the gunners in the B-17's they were attacking that got him.
Walter Schuck Walter Schuck - 206, Flew only 109s and 262s. He survived the war and was still around and signing autographs as of 1999.
Toni Hafner * Anton "Toni" Hafner - 204, KIA October 17th 1944 when he lost situational awareness in a low-level dogfight with Yaks (big mistake) and his 109 hit a tree.

Helmut Lipfert Helmut Lipfert - 203, Was shot down 15 times. Survived the war. Surrendered but was not turned over to the Russians and subsequently became a school teacher. Died in 1990.
an  asterisk [*]  before an Ace's name indicates the pilot was killed during WW2


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