Adolf Galland





Adolf Galland, one of the widely known fighter aces of all time.

Adolf Galland was born on the 19th of March 1912 in Westerholt, Germany. Galland was descended from a family of Huguenots (French protestants) who emigrated to Germany from France to escape persecution. His father was bailiff to the Graf Von Westerholt, a position of honour held by all Galland family heads. Galland was always very air minded, flying a glider by the time he was 19. He enrolled in the Deutches Fliegerschule in 1932, this would become the training ground for the future pilots of the Luftwaffe. Galland crashed once during basic training, smashing up his nose and eye, the eye injury impaired his vision to the point where he could not read the eye chart. This was important because, although he passed his initial exam, the students would be given physicals periodically throughout the training period. So strong was Galland's desire to fly that he memorized the eye chart! He passed all subsequent physicals. When the Luftwaffe was announced to the world in 1935 Galland was an instructor at Schleissheim near Munich, Galland was posted to JG 2 Richthofen.



He was promoted to Oberleutnant on the 1st of August 1937, and shortly after this he volunteered for action in Spain with the condor Legion (the Condor Legion was a unit of the Luftwaffe's, which was sent to Spain as volunteers to support Francisco Franco during the Spanish civil war). As Staffelkapitan of 3/J 88, Galland flew 300 ground support missions in Heinkel He 51 Biplanes, he scored no kills, perhaps due to the aeroplane's obsolescence. He was presented with the Spanish Cross in Gold & Diamonds by Francisco Franco on the 7th of June, 1939. In 1938 he returned to Germany. Having great experience, and was ordered to begin the organization of Luftwaffe ground attack units. At the beginning of WW II, Galland flew in Poland in the Henschel Hs 123, until the 1st of  October, 1939, performing ground attack missions and proving the dive-bombing concept. For his efforts Galland was awarded the Iron Cross.  Galland shot down his first of many victories on the 12th of May 1940,during the French campaign, when with Lt. Gustav Rodel, they  attacked a formation of eight Hurricanes, Galland scored two and later the same day he scored one of a flight of five, during the French campaign he scored two Curtiss Hawks, three Potez 163s, one Morane fighter and several Bristol Blenheim Bombers. After the fall of France Galland was transferred to JG 26, Galland scored two victories on his first mission with his new unit, as the Battle Of Britain erupted in the summer of 1940. Promoted to Major on the 18th of July 1940 he was awarded the Ritterkruez on the 1st of August for his 17th kill.

Nice example of a Morane fighter, Numerically it was France's most important fighter during the opening stages of World War 2, but was seriously underpowered and underarmed.








Galland's ME 109, with the Mickey Maus logo just beneath the cockpit.








Micky Maus, cigar pistol & hatchet!



Adolf was a constant cigar smoker. In fact the insignia on his Messerschmitt depicted a cigar smoking Mickey Maus also brandishing a pistol and hatchet! It was said that Galland got through 20 cigars a day and actually wrote orders giving him permission to smoke while flying on a mission. His was the only Messerscmitt with a cigar lighter and a cigar holder for when he was on oxygen. On the 22nd of August Galland was made Kommodore of JG26, he led the unit during the more difficult months of the Battle Of Britain. By the 25th of September Galland was one of the leading 'Aces' in the Luftwaffe with 40 victories, he shot down his 50th on the 1st of November and was awarded the Eichenlaub. He was promoted to Oberstleutant and on the 8th of December he became a full Oberst. On the first of May 1941, the Schlageter Geschwader scored it's 500th victory. On the 22nd of June many Luftwaffe unit's were involved in the attack on the Soviet Union, however JG26 stayed in France to combat the non-stop British Offensive. It is said that Galland openly envied his friend Werner Molders who was involved in the Russian Assault. JG26 was based at Pas De Calais, in a position to intercept the British attacks on German ships both in port and at sea, on the 22nd of June Blenhiems escorted by Spitfire's attacked German airfields and ships in port. Jg26 intercepted a British contingent raiding St Omar, Galland was one of the first to score he shot down a Blenhiem to record his 68th victory , four minutes later another bomber fell to his guns, but before he could recover from the attack he was bounced by two Spitfires, hits were made on Galland's wing radiators, the loss of coolant made the engine overheat and Galland was forced to make a belly landing. He was picked up and returned to JG26, after a short lunch Galland was up again to intercept another raid, he scored quickly again, this time a Spitfire, but Galland made a horrific mistake, he followed the Spitfire down to confirm his kill, only to be bounced by another Spitfire who riddled Galland's ME109 with bullet holes.



Galland was considering a belly landing when, his fuel tank erupted into a ball of flame, he had to bail out, but his canopy was jammed, he hurled his body into the canopy time and time again, until finally it broke free he bailed out, only to have his parachute get caught on his radio antenna mast, Galland was being dragged hurtling to earth by his flaming aircraft, after agonizing moments he finally broke free and drifted toward the ground. Shortly after this British and German pilots engaged in a 'free for all' over the Pas De Calais, the leader of the fighter command forces was Douglas Bader, the famous 'legless wonder' of the RAF, it was here that Bader was shot down by a JG26 pilot. Bader had the misfortune of having one of his artificial legs getting caught in the canopy as he tried to bail out, so he had to jump without it. The story goes that his remaining leg could not withstand the impact when he landed and broke. Galland met with Bader while he was POW, and sent a request  via the Red Cross for another set of legs to be flown over from England with guarantees of safe passage, the RAF dropped Baders new legs during a bombing raid! German doctors fitted the new legs and Bader walked again. After Werner Molders was killed, this catapulted Galland to General of the Fighter Arm, and he became the youngest general in the German Armed Forces, he became only the second member of the German armed forces to be awarded the Brillanten, or diamonds to his Ritterkruez on the 28th of January 1942. Galland successfully executed operation Channel Dash during February 1942. In his new post though he found himself constantly at odds with Herman Goring, their differences reached a climax in January 1945 when Goring dismissed Galland as Fighter General. 

Nice shot of Galland, with his famous cigar!


Galland with Goring, they would soon be at odds.



Galland with his friend Werner Molders.

Galland returned to combat service in January 1945, leading the elite group of fighter pilots that formed JV 44 Galland famous fighter wing, flying the new Luftwaffe jet the ME 262. On the 24th of April Galland scored his 104th victory in this jet a US Marauder bomber, it was his last. After Germany surrendered, Galland was taken to England for interrogation, where he again met Douglas Bader, he was released in 1947. he went on to a successful career as an international aviation consultant, first with the Argentine Air Force for seven years, and then in Germany.  Galland  typified to a degree the chivalry which existed between combatants in the air and was a popular figure at the air force reunions of his old adversaries. He was, for example, a welcome figure at the thanksgiving service for the life of the legless RAF ace Sir Douglas Bader in St. Clement Danes Church in the strand, in 1982. Adolf Galland died of heart ailment on the 9th of February 1996 he was 83 years old.