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Stuka Dive Bomber Highest Decorated German WW II Pilot

Stuka Dive Bomber Highest Decorated German WW II Pilot

Hans-Ulrich Rudel born in the Kingdom of Prussia

Pilot, Hans-Ulrich Rudel born on July 1916 in Silesia in the Kingdom of Prussia (Poland) was a Stuka dive-bomber pilot in Germany during World War II.

He was the son of a Lutheran Minister Johannes Rudel and his mother Martha, née Mückner.

As a boy Rudel was an adventurer always looking for challenging feats, showing little interest in academics, becoming a poor scholar and a keen sportsman?

“Lost are only those, who abandon themselves.”

Hans-Ulrich Rudel Humble Beginning

In 1936 at the age of 20 Hans-Ulrich Rudel received his University-preparatory high school diploma and joined the Luftwaffe as an officer cadet, where he began his training at the “School of Air Warfare” at Wildpark-Werder.

Two years later at the age of 22, he joined I./Sturzkampfgeschwader 168 in Graz as an officer senior cadet.

Hans-Ulrich Rudel poor learning skills had made him unsuitable for combat flying and they transferred him to the Reconnaissance Flying School in Hildesheim for training in operational reconnaissance, where he became a second lieutenant.

After completing his training they posted him to Fernaufklaurungsgruppe 121 (Long-Range Reconnaissance Group) at Prenzlau, where he would begin his new life and become the highest decorated soldier in Germany.

The Rise of Hans-Ulrich Rudel

In 1939 flying as an observer on long-range reconnaissance missions over Poland from Breslau, at the start of World War II, Rudel received his first Iron Cross (2nd Class). His desire to fly in combat noted by his subordinates led him to be reassigned to dive bombing where he joined the aviation training regimen in 1940 at Crailsheim.

After spending his time as a first lieutenant in non-combat role in the battle of Britain and Invasion of Crete he proceeded to fly his first four combat missions in the German invasion of the Soviet Union on the 23 of June 1941, where he demonstrated his pilot skills and received the Iron Cross (1st Class).

By the end of December in 1941 he had flown a remarkable 400 missions and in 1942 received the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross. And on February 1943 he became the first pilot to fly 1,000 missions.

By March 1944, Rudel was a group commander and had reached 1,800 missions. Rudel was well known by his enemies during air battles and this made him the prime target, but his remarkable skills and brave heart helped him to evade and defeat his enemies.

Rudel’s Famous Battles

Known as Destroyer of Russian by Stalin, the enemies wanted him out of action and on the 13 of March 1943 during an aerial combat, Rudel was challenged by a famous Soviet fighter pilot, the hero of the Soviet Union.

During the 13th of March Aerial battle, Rudel’s Junkers Ju 87 rear gunner’s machine guns were jammed forcing Rudel to flee. And while trying to flee from the Aerial battle, Rudel was pursued by a Famous Russian Pilot Lev Shestakov.

During the chase Rudel was performing hair raising maneuvering skills, flying 10 feet above the ground, avoiding trees and other objects, unfortunately Lev Shestakov was not able to match his skills and crashed failing to return back to his Russian based and therefore posted as missing in action.

Junkers Ju 87 “Stuka” dive bomber with 3.7 cm anti-tank guns under the wings.

The Unstoppable Stuka Bomber Pilot

This guy was a force to be reckoned with, can you imagine he was flying the Junkers Ju 87 in an air battle while his right leg was in plaster after being wounded in the thigh in November 1944.

And in February 1945 he lost half of his right leg when he was hit with a 40 mm Shell and returned back to operations a month later with a prosthetic leg, managing to destroy 26 more tanks before finally surrendering to the US forces in May 1945, where he spent 11 months in a camp as a prisoner of war before moving to Argentina in 1948.

Rudel holds the world record by having flown more than 2,530 Mission, never having been shot down by a pilot, and only forced to land 32 times after being shot by anti-aircraft artillery.

He claimed a total of 2,000 targets destroyed; including 800 vehicles, 519 tanks, 150 artillery pieces, 70 landing craft, nine aircraft, four armored trains, several bridges, a destroyer, two cruisers, and the Soviet battleship Marat, making him the most decorated serviceman of all the fighting arms of the German armed forces

From a Pilot Bomber to a Writer

Even with the efforts of Rudel, Germany managed to lose the war. Rudel surrendered to U.S and was hospitalized. After the battle, he lived a normal life and resigned himself to writing. He died in 1982, at the age of 66.

With all the awards, recognition, success stories and combat missions he did successfully, it’s without question that Hans-Ulrich Rudel is classified as one of the ultimate and most outstanding combat pilot of all time. His famous quote is “Only he is lost who gives himself up for lost”

Stuka Ace – Hans-Ulrich Rudel
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