Erich Hartmann Worlds Highest Scoring Ace With 352 Victories   

Erich Hartmann is the most successful fighter pilot in history.  Hartmann flew 1,425 combat missions all on the Eastern Front starting his career as 'Paule' Rossmans wingman.   It soon became  apparent that he was a very special pilot . In July 1943 he was promoted Stafflelkapitan of 7./JG52, and in September took over 9./JG52. In March 1942 he had scored his 200th victory. He was lastly promoted to GruppenKommandeur off I./JG52. Hartmann was awarded the Knights Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds and was also known as the Black Devil of the Ukraine because of the "black tulip" he had painted on his aircraft (which he later removed). 

Eric Hartmann scored  an amazing 352 victories.  Hartmann was feared and hated by the Russians, so much so that he had to remove the "black tulip" painted on  the nose of his aircraft as they would rather turn and flee than face the' Black Devil'.  In all, Hartmann engaged  in more than 800 dogfights and suffered 13 accidents, preferring to crash land 12 times and bail out only once. Hartmann was only 17 when the War began and upon leaving college in 1940 he joined the army transferring to the Luftwaffe 6 months later - he soloed in less than a month.

 By October of 1940 Hartmann  was assigned to his first unit  7/JG52 where he was assigned to Edmund Rossman as his wingman.  Hartman did every wrong including separating from his leader, running out of fuel and crash-landing. He was then assigned to  Walter Krupinski who took a more relaxed attitude towards him, this is where Hartmann learned to get so close to his enemy before firing, that hits were guaranteed.  This combined with the fact that Hartmann was a crack shot, enabled him to score most of his kills with little ammunition. This is also around the time Hartmann was nicknamed Bubi (Boy).



Hartmann scored his first kill on the 5th of November 1942 to intercept 18 heavily armoured Sturmovik ground  attack aircraft escorted by 10 Lagg-3 fighters. Hartman headed for the nearest Sturmovik, he fired at a range of 200  ft, as the Stormovik  went down, Hartmans own aircraft was hit by debris which resulted in Hartmann crash landing on his first kill. During his combat career on the Russian front, Erich met US planes shooting down seven Mustangs during just three engagements. 

In the morning of the 8th of May Hartman scored his 352 victory -  a Russian fighter thought to be celebrating the impending Russian victory. Hartmann struck fast and the Russian became his 352nd victory.  Hartman was handed to the Russians by the US, once they found out they had the 'Black Devil' he was singled out for very harsh brutal treatment. including long periods in solitary  confinement  Hartman spent 10 years as a prisoner of War, not being released until 1955. Upon his release Hartman became Kommodore of JG71 the new German Air Force.  Erich Hartmann is truly the Ace of all Aces a feat that will never be repeated.