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Erich hartman

Erich hartman Image
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11oz Green Handle and green rim.

Victories : 352
Awards : Ehrenpokal (13 September 1943)
Deutsches Kreuz in Gold (17 October 1943)
Ritterkreuz (29 October 1943)
Eichenlaub (2 March 1944)
Schwertern (2 July 1944)
Brillianten (25 August 1944)
Units : JG 52, JG 53

Erich “Bubi” Hartmann was born on 19 April 1921 at Weissach in Württemberg. Most of his early years were spent in China where his father, a doctor, had a general practice in Changsha. He returned to Germany with his family in 1928 and completed his schooling. Hartmann learned to fly sailplanes and had managed to gain his pilot’s license in 1939. He entered the Luftwaffe on 10 October 1940. Hartmann attended the Luftkriegsschule II (air combat school) at Berlin-Gatow gaining his military pilot’s license in August 1941. From 14 October 1941 to February 1942 he attended Jagdfliegerschule-Vorschule 2 at Lachen-Speyerdorf. He attended Jagdfliegerschule 2 at Zerbst from February 1942 to July 1942 before being posted to Ergänzungruppe Ost at Gleiwitz for operational training, which he managed to complete in October 1942. His first operational posting was to 7./JG 52 on the Eastern Front on 10 October 1942. Leutnant Hartmann came under the guidance of Oberfeldwebel Edmund “Paule” Rossmann (93 victories, RK, POW 9 July 1943), considered one of the best element leaders on the Eastern Front. During this time he was given the advice of several another accomplished aces of 7./JG 52, including Oberfeldwebel Alfred Grislawski (132 victories, RK-EL) and Leutnant Walter Krupinski (197 victories, RK-EL). Hartmann recorded his first victory, a Russian Il-2 Sturmovik ground-attack aircraft, shot down on 5 November 1942. However, he too was hit in the engagement and was forced to crash land. By the end of April 1943, his victory total stood at 11. On 23 May he claimed his 17th victory but two days later force-landed his Bf 109 G-4 “White 2” (W.Nr. 14 997) after colliding with a LaGG-3 fighter. After this incident he was given leave to rest and recuperate, returning to combat duty by the end of June. By the end of July 1943 his victory total had reached 42, including seven enemy aircraft shot down on 7 July to record his 22nd through 28th victories. In August, he claimed 48 victories, including five on 1 August (43-47), 4 August (52-56), 5 August (57-61) and 7 August (63-67). However, following his 90th victory on 20 August 1943, Hartmann was shot down in Bf 109 G-6 (W.Nr. 20 485), and captured. Feigning injury, he managed to decoy his captors into not keeping a close watch on him and was able to escape and returned to his unit after two days. On 2 September 1943, Hartmann was appointed Staffelkapitän of 9./JG 52. On 13 September he was awarded the Ehrenpokal. He gained his 100th victory on 20 September 1943. In October, he claimed 33 victories. Leutnant Hartmann was awarded the Ritterkreuz on 29 October 1943 after his 148th victory. On 6 December he was awarded the Deutsches Kreuz in Gold. He recorded his 150th victory on 13 December. On 30 January 1944, Hartmann shot down six enemy aircraft (178-183). He claimed five victories on 1 February (186-190). He brought up his 200th victory on the 26 February 1944, on a day when he shot down 10 Airacobra fighters (192-202). He was awarded the Eichenlaub (Nr 420) on 2 March. On 8 May, Hartmann, with two of his ground crew in the baggage locker of his Bf 109, was forced to withdraw from the Crimea. He had 223 victories to his credit at the time. For a short period, Hartmann operated over Rumania intercepting the American daylight bombing raids on the Rumanian oil fields and installations, and on 24 June he claimed a 15th USAAF P-51 fighter as his 265th victory. On 2 July he was awarded the Schwertern (Nr. 75) for 266 victories. A Russian counter-offensive took the unit back to Crimea and, during May and June 1944, he accounted for 60 Russian aircraft to bring his score to 267. In August 1944, Hartmann claimed 35 victories, including eight on 23 August (284-291). He had became the first fighter pilot to record 300 victories on 24 August 1944, on a day when he shot down eleven enemy aircraft. Hartmann was awarded the Brillanten for 303 victories on 25 August 1944, only the 18th German soldier to receive this accolade. He was immediately prohibited from combat flying and was assigned to Erprobungskommando 262 to test fly the Me 262 jet fighter. In October, Hartman was able get the prohibition on his combat flying lifted. On 1 October he was appointed Staffelkapitän of 4./JG 52 (or 7./JG 52?) based in Hungary. By the end of 1944, he had raised his victory tally to 331. From 1 to 14 February 1945, Hartmann briefly led I./JG 53 in an acting Gruppenkommandeur role. He relinquished the role to Hauptmann Helmut Lipfert (203 victories, RK-EL) on 15 February. In mid-February 1945, Hartmann was given command of I./JG 52. In March he was transferred to Lechfeld for short training on the Me 262 jet fighter before requesting to return to JG 52. He became the only man ever to achieve 350 victories on 17 April 1945 and in late April he was promoted to Major. On 8 May 1945 he claimed his 352nd, and last, victory against a Yak-9 fighter over the Brünn area in Czechoslovakia. Major Hartmann surrendered his unit to an American armored unit but on 24 May he was handed over to the Russians. He was to be sentenced to 25 years hard labour by the Russians, serving 10 years before returning to Germany on 15 October 1955. He served in the reformed Luftwaffe from 1956 and commanded JG 71. He retired from active duty in 1970. Erich Hartmann died on 19 September 1993 at Weil im Schönbuch.
Erich Hartmann was the top scoring fighter pilot of all the combatants in World War 2. He flew 825 missions in recording 352 victories. All his victories were recorded on the Eastern Front and included 15 Il-2 Sturmovik ground-attack aircraft. He force-landed 14 times during his combat career.

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