Top 15 Greatest Fighter Pilots In The World of All Time
|Top 15 Greatest Fighter Pilots In The World's History|
Fighter pilots are among the most fascinating figures in military history. Instead of relying on comrades and armed battalions, they complete their daring missions and rack up the kills on their own.
It can be said that they are all excellent fighter pilots in the sky of the world when they have shot down hundreds of enemy planes, making many people admire. Let's review the list of the most talented pilots in human history with KnowInsiders.com.
1. Erich Hartmann
Erich Alfred Hartmann born April 19, 1922, nicknamed "Bubi" by his teammates or "Black Devil" by Soviet opponents was a German fighter pilot during World War II.
He is the ace pilot who holds the record for the highest achievement in the history of world military aviation with 352 victories in a total of 1,404 sorties. He participated in 825 air battles, was forced to land 14 times when his plane was damaged by being hit by debris from planes he had just shot down or due to technical errors. Hartmann in particular was never shot down or forced to land by enemy fire. Before World War II, Hartmann was a glider pilot. He joined the Luftwaffe in 1940 and completed his fighter pilot training in 1942. Assigned to the 52nd Fighter Wing on the Soviet-German front, he was fortunate to have the guidance of fighter pilots. Luftwaffe's experienced fighter and has since developed its own combat tactics. On August 25, 1944, after 301 victories, he was awarded the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves, Sword and Diamond.
His final victory came on May 8, 1945. He and the survivors of JG 52 surrendered to the US Army but were later transferred to the Soviet Red Army. In order to pressure Hartmann to join the East German Air Force (Volksarmee), the Soviets falsely accused him of being a war criminal, which was later vindicated by a Russian court. Hartmann was sentenced to 25 years in prison with hard labor and after 10 years in Soviet prison camps and gulags, before being released in 1955. In 1956, Hartmann joined the West German Air Force (Bundesluftwaffe) and became Geschwaderkommodore of the 71st Fighter Wing (Jagdgeschwader 71) "Richthofen".
Hartmann retired early in 1970 due to his opposition to his superiors over the Luftwaffe's introduction of the F-104 Starfighter into combat service. After retiring, he continued to participate in flight training for a while. He died of illness on September 20, 1993.
2. Manfred von Richthofen
|Manfred von Richthofen|
The infamous "Red Baron" of World War One, Manfred von Richthofen, is arguably the most famous fighter pilot of all time. Although he owes much of his modern-day fame to the Peanuts character Snoopy, his accomplishments stand on their own.
Before being shot down in combat, the Red Baron had 80 kills, a remarkable number for the time's flying technology.
Aside from his kill totals, the Red Baron is known for his flair. While other pilots tried to disguise their planes, he painted his Fokker bright red so enemies would know he was coming and commanded the "Flying Circus."
3. James Jabara
James Jabara served in the United States Air Force as a fighter pilot during WWII, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. Jabara flew a P-51 Mustang on two combat tours during WWII, earning one and a half victories (one shared victory) against German aircraft. During the Korean War, Jabara shot down four Soviet-built MiG-15 jets in an F-86 Sabre with.50 caliber machine gun fire in April 1951. When his own squadron returned to America, he voluntarily joined the 335th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron to remain in Korea.
Jabara was flying to support an aerial battle in MiG Alley, a region of northwestern North Korea, in May when he attempted to jettison his spare fuel tank to reduce weight and improve maneuverability, but the tank did not completely separate from the wing. Jabara was supposed to return to base because his aircraft's maneuverability was compromised, but he chose to continue. Despite his aircraft's disadvantage, Jabara successfully scored two more victories over MiG-15s, making him the first American jet ace in history. After Korea, Jabara rose through the Air Force ranks to become the Air Force's youngest colonel at the time.
He was part of an F-100 Super Sabre flight group that bombed Viet Cong-held buildings in Vietnam. He ended his career with a total of 16.5 aerial victories.
4. Charles Lindbergh
The young man who would give aviation its most significant boost since the Wright brothers began his career as a wingwalker, barnstormer, and parachutist. His ability in the latter paid dividends when he had to bail out of a trainer during his Army service and three more times while flying the Chicago-St. Louis mail run for the Robertson Air Corporation.
In 1931, Lindbergh and his wife, radio operator/navigator Anne Morrow, set out in a Lockheed Sirius on floats to establish the shortest air route from New York to China via Churchill in Canada, Nome, Petropavlosk, Tokyo, and Nanking. Two years later, they scouted cities in the north and south Atlantic for operational facilities on Pan Am's transatlantic routes. This transatlantic flight included stops in Greenland, Iceland, Sweden, Russia, Denmark, Scotland, Portugal, the Canary Islands, Brazil, and Puerto Rico.
5. Amelia Earhart
The year after Lindbergh's historic flight, Amelia Earhart made history by becoming the first female aviator to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. On June 17, 1928, she took off from Trespassey Harbor in Newfoundland, Canada, in 'Friendship,' a Fokker F.Vllb/3m, with co-pilot and mechanic Louis E. Gordon and fellow pilot Wilmer Stultz. They arrived in Wales at Burry Point after a journey of just under 21 hours.
Due to inclement weather, Stultz flew the plane for the entire trip on this trip, and Amelia kept the flight log. Sadly, her final flight brought her the most attention of her career. Earhart attempted to circumnavigate the globe in a Lockheed Model 10 Electra in 1937, but she crashed near Howland Island in the Pacific Ocean after radioing that her fuel was running low and the weather was cloudy. The other details are still unknown to this day.
6. Joseph Christopher McConnell
|Joseph Christopher McConnell|
Joseph Christopher McConnell (1922 - 1954) is recognized as the leading and most successful jet pilot in American history, having participated in the Korean War (1950 - 1953). By shooting down 16 enemy MiG15s, McConnell was honored to receive the Medal of the Cross for Outstanding Service and the Silver Star for his dedication.
When given the opportunity to fly rather than navigate, McConnell excelled behind the controls of an F-86, shooting down 16 enemy fighters in just four months during the Korean War. He also went toe-to-toe with Soviet MIG-15 ace Semyon Fedorets, claiming one of his many kills in his MIG-15. McConnell was tragically killed while testing a new variant of the F-86.
7. Douglas Bader
The presence of British fighter ace Douglas Bader so high on this list may surprise you. What makes Bader so remarkable? After all, he only has 20 aerial kills, 4 shared, 11 damaged, and a probable. However, Bader lost his legs in an earlier aviation career when he crashed a plane eight years before WWII. And he did all of this despite having no legs later on, before the Germans shot him down and captured him in 1941. Fortunately, he was so respected that the Germans requested that his prosthesis be sent over from the UK.
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8. Major Richard Bong
|Major Richard Bong|
Richard Bong was one of America's most decorated fighter pilots of all time. The achievement of five confirmed kills earned a fighter pilot the title of ace. Bong, on the other hand, had 40 confirmed kills by the end of WWII, earning him the title "Ace of Aces." Bong admitted that his gunnery skills were lacking, but he compensated by flying as close to his targets as possible, sometimes flying through enemy aircraft debris. During WWII, he received congratulatory gifts from military elite, including a case of Scotch from WWI ace Eddie Rickenbacker, after breaking Rickenbacker's record of 26 kills.
Bong received the Medal of Honor, the Distinguished Service Cross, two Silver Stars, seven Distinguished Flying Crosses and 15 Air Medals. On August 6, 1945, Bong's P-80 malfunctioned shortly after takeoff during a routine exercise, and while he managed to eject, he was killed in the crash.
9. Rene Fonck
Rene Fonck (March 27, 1894 - June 18, 1953), was a French Allied pilot in World War I history. Famous for his achievement of shooting down 142 enemy aircraft, including 75 German aircraft in just 500 hours of flight, there were even times when he went out to pursue alone without his teammates beside him to help. For his remarkable contributions and natural talent in the air, Rene Fonck was named the most outstanding pilot of all time and was awarded the medal of honor for his heroic struggle. Fonck returned to civilian life after World War I and published his war memoir Mes Combats, prefaced by Marechal Foch, in 1920. The fame he gained from the war allowed him to be elected. served as a member of Congress representing the Vosges from 1919 to 1924. During the 1920s, Fonck persuaded Igor Sikorsky to redesign the Sikorsky S-35 for the transatlantic race or the Orteig. On September 21, 1926, Fonck crashed during takeoff when the landing gear collapsed, killing two of the three crew members. Charles Lindbergh won the prize seven months later in 1927.
10. Max Immelmann
The first major war in which armies used air battles to their advantage was World War One. As a result, several fighter pilots, including Max Immelmann, rose to prominence.
Max Immelmann was Germany's first air ace, dubbed "the Eagle over Lille" for his exploits on the Western Front. To become an ace, a pilot must shoot down five or more enemy planes.
Immelmann achieved 17 victories before his death in 1917. He also developed a number of dogfight maneuvers, including the Immelmann turn.
11. Muhammad Mahmood Alam
|Muhammad Mahmood Alam|
Muhammad Mahmood Alam was a Pakistani Air Force jet fighter pilot in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965. On September 7, 1965, he became the last fighter pilot to become an ace in a single day, shooting down five Indian Hawker Hunter fighter jets in less than a minute, the last four of which he downed within 30 seconds. Alam, a Pakistani national hero, holds the world record for becoming an ace in the shortest amount of time. This daring feat also makes him the only jet pilot to achieve ace status in a single day.
When the war began in April 1965, Alam was already a respected leader and skilled pilot and gunner. During the 1965 war, he piloted an F-86 Sabre and downed nine Indian Hawker Hunters while damaging two others.
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12. Charles E. Yeager
|Charles E. Yeager|
As a young Army Air Forces pilot in training, Yeager had to overcome airsickness before he went on to down 12 German fighters, including a Messerschmitt 262, the first jet fighter. After the war, while still in the AAF, he trained as a test pilot at Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio, where he got to fly the United States' first jet fighter, the Bell P-59, which he took for a joyride over his West Virginia hometown's main street.
The bullet-shaped XS-1 performed admirably in Yeager's hands, and on October 14, 1947, despite the pain of two cracked ribs, he reached Mach 1.07 and lived to tell the tale. The X-1 was not designed to fly on its own; instead, it was airdropped from a mothership. Yeager launched the X-1's four rockets from the runway in January 1949. "There was no ride like that one ever in the world!" he later wrote. When the landing gear was retracted, an actuating rod snapped and the wing flaps blew off due to the aircraft's rapid acceleration.
13. James ‘Jimmy’ Doolittle
|James ‘Jimmy’ Doolittle|
General James 'Jimmy' Doolittle was a combat leader and aeronautical engineer in addition to being a great pilot during his lifetime. His first Army career lasted from 1917 to 1930, during which time he received flight training and rose to the rank of second lieutenant. In 1928, he flew for the first time using only instruments. He resigned from the Army in 1930, but the Army called him back in 1940. He is best known for the Doolittle Raid, which took place in 1942 following the attack on Pearl Harbor.
On April 18, 1942, Doolittle trained a group of pilots to fly 16 US bombers into Tokyo and other important Japanese cities. The planes ran out of fuel after the raid, forcing the crews to crash-land or bail out in China or the Soviet Union, where locals rescued them. The Doolittle raid had such a negative impact on Japanese morale that Doolittle was granted accommodation as a result of it.
14. Johnny Johnson
Johnnie Johnson was one of the leading Allied pilots in World War II and the leader of the Royal Air Force's 610 Squadron. Previously, due to a shoulder injury, he thought he had no chance to join the air force, after successful surgery, he was agreed to join and from here began his illustrious career. During the war, he performed more than 1,000 missions without ever being shot down and he also destroyed 34 enemy aircraft. When the Korean War broke out, he continued to serve until his retirement.
With these achievements, Johnnie Johnson was honored to receive many awards and medals, becoming a legendary pilot in the history of the British Air Force. He died in 2001 at the age of 85
15. Ernst Udet
Ernst Udet (April 26, 1896 - November 17, 1941) was a German aviator during World War I and a Colonel-General of the German Air Force (Generaloberst) during World War II. Udet joined the German Imperial Air Service at the age of 19, and eventually became a famous airman during World War I, scoring 62 confirmed feats by the end of his life. As the German fighter pilot with the highest score to survive that war and the second highest score after Manfred von Richthofen, his commander in the Flying Circus, Udet became squadron commander under Richthofen and then under Hermann Göring. Udet spent the 1920s and early 1930s as a stunt pilot, international barnstormer, light aircraft manufacturer and playboy.
In 1933, Udet joined the Nazi Party and participated in the initial development of the Luftwaffe, where he was appointed director of research and development. Influential in the application of dive bombing techniques as well as the Stuka dive bomber, by 1939, Udet was promoted to the position of Director of Procurement and Supply for the Luftwaffe. The stress of his position and his distaste for administrative duties led to Udet developing an addiction to alcohol.
The launch of Operation Barbarossa, combined with problems with the Luftwaffe's need for equipment far outstripping German production capacity and increasingly poor relations with the Nazi Party, led Udet to commit suicide on November 17, 1941 by shooting himself in the head. Hitler declared: "Our defeat is caused by Udet". "That man created the most senseless situation ever seen in the history of the Luftwaffe."
With so many incredible fighter pilots, it's difficult to name all of the best, but here are a few that stand out. With their remarkable achievements and outstanding talent, these pilots deserve to become legendary symbols of world aviation history.
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