Graf beat the Russians at their own game , by learning the art of low level combat flying

Herman Graf was born on the 24th of October 1912, the son of a Blacksmith. Graf, because of very humble beginnings missed much of his secondary school education. Something that was essential to become an officer in the Luftwaffe. Despite this though Graf would work his way up through the ranks to Kommodore one of the most successful fighter wings of the Luftwaffe JG 52. Graf was posted to 9/JG 52 in early July 1941 and here began one of the most fantastic combat careers ever recorded. Graf scored his first victory on the 3rd of August 1941, he quickly learned how to beat the Russians at their own game, and became an expert at low altitude fighting- something that other Luftwaffe pilots found difficult to master. Graf's score rose steadily and by the years end he was commissioned a Leutnant also receiving four of the highest German decorations.



On the 24th of January 1942 Graf was awarded the Ritterkreuz for his 42nd victory, then on the 17th of May the Eichenlaub for his 104th victory, two days later the Schwerten and then on the 9th of September he became only the fifth Luftwaffe member to be awarded the Brillanten for his 172nd kill. During this climb to fame, Graf shot down seven enemy planes on the 2nd of May & the 14 of May, and by the 14th of May he had scored 47 victories in just a 17 day period. Now Graf had been given the name of the 'King Of The Hedge Hopping Attack'. During three weeks Graf shot down another 52 enemy aircraft, now bringing his score to 200, the first pilot to ever reach this total, by now Graf was promoted to Hauptmann and leader of his own Staffel. Injured in early 1943 Graf found himself a stay in hospital and would do a short propaganda tour, propaganda minister Gobbels called Graf ' the finest example of Nazi manhood there was' and wrung every drop  of propaganda he could from the young Graf.

Graf would become the most publicized German Ace of the time.


B-17s dropping their bomb load on Germany.

Promoted again to Major Graf was assigned a new fighter group (JG 50) this new fighter group was assigned the un-enviable task of stopping the ever increasing raid of the US 'Heavies'. During this time Graf did very little combat flying, but still managed to bring down four B-17's and one P-51 Mustang by ramming it no-less. By now Graf was Kommodore of JG 11 assigned defence of the Reich in this period he brought down another 6 B-17s. Germanys collapse found the JG 52 airfields surrounded by Russian troops, determined not to surrender to the Russians though Graf ordered all planes and equipment to be destroyed, then with pilots and ground personnal retreated to Bavaria, fighting for days until they eventually surrendered to the Americans - only to be handed back to the Russians. Graf was treated very poorly by the Russians, kept in solitary confinement for very long periods until his release in 1950. Graf finished the War with 212 victories.