During the Second World War, one German Luftwaffe pilot compiled a combat record so remarkable that he earned the distinction of becoming the most successful fighter pilot in the history of humanity. Erich Hartmann, called the Blond Knight of the German Luftwaffe, achieved the staggering total of 352 confirmed victories. Hartmann’s incredible combat record earned him the coveted diamonds to his Knight’s Cross from Hitler personally. He was never shot down or forced to land due to enemy fire.

During the Second World War, one German Luftwaffe pilot compiled a combat record so remarkable that he earned the distinction of becoming the most successful fighter pilot in the history of humanity. Erich Hartmann, called the Blond Knight of the German Luftwaffe, achieved the staggering total of 352 confirmed victories. Hartmann’s incredible combat record earned him the coveted diamonds to his Knight’s Cross from Hitler personally. He was never shot down or forced to land due to enemy fire.

Werner "Vati" Mölders (18 March 1913 – 22 November 1941) was a World War II German Luftwaffe pilot and the leading German fighter ace in the Spanish Civil War. Mölders became the first pilot in aviation history to claim 100 aerial victories, and was highly decorated for his achievements. He was instrumental in the development of new fighter tactics which led to the finger-four formation. He died in an air crash in which he was a passenger.

[Photo] Portrait of German Luftwaffe Oberstleutnant Werner Mölders, 27 Nov 1940; note Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves medal

Werner "Vati" Mölders (18 March 1913 – 22 November 1941) was a World War II German Luftwaffe pilot and the leading German fighter ace in the Spanish Civil War. Mölders became the first pilot in aviation history to claim 100 aerial victories, and was highly decorated for his achievements. He was instrumental in the development of new fighter tactics which led to the finger-four formation. He died in an air crash in which he was a passenger.

Major Erich Rudorffer was born in 1917 and is 96 years old. He is one of the handful of pilots who served in the Luftwaffe for the duration of WW2. He is the 7th most successful fighter pilot in the history of air warfare, and currently both the oldest jet fighter ace, and the most successful ace still living. Rudorffer claimed a total of 222 victories, fighting in all the major German theaters of war, including the European and Mediterranean Theater of Operations and the Eastern Front.

Major Erich Rudorffer was born in 1917 and is 96 years old. He is one of the handful of pilots who served in the Luftwaffe for the duration of WW2. He is the 7th most successful fighter pilot in the history of air warfare, and currently both the oldest jet fighter ace, and the most successful ace still living. Rudorffer claimed a total of 222 victories, fighting in all the major German theaters of war, including the European and Mediterranean Theater of Operations and the Eastern Front.

Kurt Knispel: (20 September 1921 – 28 April 1945) was a Sudeten German Heer panzer loader, gunner and later commander, and was the highest scoring tank ace of World War II with a total of 168 confirmed tank kills;[1] the actual number, although unconfirmed, may be as high as 195

Kurt Knispel: (20 September 1921 – 28 April 1945) was a Sudeten German Heer panzer loader, gunner and later commander, and was the highest scoring tank ace of World War II with a total of 168 confirmed tank kills;[1] the actual number, although unconfirmed, may be as high as 195

Hanna Reitsch, the only woman awarded the Iron Cross First Class and the Luftwaffe Pilot/Observer Badge in Gold with Diamonds during World War II. She set over forty aviation altitude and endurance records during her career, both before and after World War II, and several of her international gliding records still stand in 2012

Hanna Reitsch, the only woman awarded the Iron Cross First Class and the Luftwaffe Pilot/Observer Badge in Gold with Diamonds during World War II. She set over forty aviation altitude and endurance records during her career, both before and after World War II, and several of her international gliding records still stand in 2012

July 15, 1941: Luftwaffe ace Werner Mölders shoots down two Soviet aircraft, raising his victory total to 101. He becomes the first pilot to claim 100 victories.

July 15, 1941: Luftwaffe ace Werner Mölders shoots down two Soviet aircraft, raising his victory total to 101. He becomes the first pilot to claim 100 victories.

Werner Mölders 18 March 1913 – 22 November 1941 was a WWII German Luftwaffe pilot & the leading German fighter ace in the Spanish Civil War. Mölders became the first pilot in aviation history to claim 100 aerial victories—that is, 100 aerial combat encounters resulting in the destruction of the enemy aircraft, and was highly decorated for his achievements.

Werner Mölders 18 March 1913 – 22 November 1941 was a WWII German Luftwaffe pilot & the leading German fighter ace in the Spanish Civil War. Mölders became the first pilot in aviation history to claim 100 aerial victories—that is, 100 aerial combat encounters resulting in the destruction of the enemy aircraft, and was highly decorated for his achievements.

Adolf Galland wears an Irvin jacket -- a favorite acquisition among Luftwaffe pilots.

Adolf Galland wears an Irvin jacket -- a favorite acquisition among Luftwaffe pilots.

Lieutenant-General Gerhard "Gerd" Barkhorn was the second most successful fighter ace of all time after fellow Luftwaffe pilot Erich Hartmann

Lieutenant-General Gerhard "Gerd" Barkhorn was the second most successful fighter ace of all time after fellow Luftwaffe pilot Erich Hartmann

Günther Rall He flew a total of 621 missions, and was shot down no less than 8 times, being wounded 3 times during which he shot down a total of 275 enemy aircraft, including 3 on the Western Front to become the third highest scoring fighter pilot in history.

Günther Rall He flew a total of 621 missions, and was shot down no less than 8 times, being wounded 3 times during which he shot down a total of 275 enemy aircraft, including 3 on the Western Front to become the third highest scoring fighter pilot in history.

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