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Gunther Rall - FU Hero

Posted by admin on October 18, 2008


Lieutenant-General Günther Rall is the third most successful fighter ace in history, and the most successful ace still living. He achieved a total of 275 victories during World War II: 272 on the Eastern Front, of which 241 were against Soviet fighters. He flew a total of 621 combat missions, was shot down 8 times and was wounded 3 times. He scored his victories in the Messerschmitt Bf 109.  Here's Gunther Rall describing in his own words what it was like to fly the 109 and his thoughts on how he scored 275 kills during the war.

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Rall first saw combat during the Battle of France, and on 18 May 1940, he scored his first victory, a Curtiss Hawk fighter. Later JG 52 was moved to Calais where it took part in the Battle of Britain  Rall then took part in the Balkans Campaign in the spring of 1941. He also partook in Operation Merkur, the airborne invasion of Crete in May 1941. After the successful conclusion of Merkur, JG 52 was transferred back to Romania to help defend the oil fields there from Soviet bombers. With Operation Barbarossa, Rall found repeated opportunity for combat, scoring his second, third, and fourth victories in three days of June 1941. During a 5 day period, Rall and his Staffel destroyed some 50 Soviet aircraft. He hit his stride in October, with 12 victories.

JG 52 was then attached to the operations of Heeresgruppe Süd and continued operating on the southern flank of the Eastern Front. On 28 November 1941, Rall scored his 36th victory, but on the same day his engine was hit and seized up. He crash landed behind German lines and broke his back in three places. His injuries were such that he had to spend nine months recuperating before he could rejoin his unit in August 1942, in which month he downed 26 Soviet aircraft.

From August to November Rall claimed another 38 enemies, bringing his total to 101 victories. On 26 November 1942, he was given the Eichenlaub to his Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes by Adolf Hitler personally. In April 1943, he was promoted to Hauptmann and on the 20th of that month scored the Geschwader's 5000th kill.  On 7 August, he logged his 150th victory, with his 200th coming near the end of September, for which he was awarded the Schwerter to his Ritterkreuz. In October 1943, Rall had his best month, downing 40 aircraft. A month later, he became only the second pilot (after Walter Nowotny) to achieve 250 kills. During 1943, Rall was credited with 151 enemy aircraft destroyed, a figure exceeded only by Nowotny (196) and Hermann Graf (160).

On 19 April 1944, Rall was transferred to Jagdgeschwader 11, were he took up position as Gruppenkommandeur of II./JG 11. JG 11 was tasked with Reichsverteidigung (Defense of the Reich) and Rall led his unit against the bomber fleets of Eighth Air Force. On 1 May 1944, Rall was promoted to Major, a rank he retained until the end of the war. On 12 May, Rall was leading a staffeln of Bf 109s and bounced a flight of three P-47 Thunderbolts led by Col. Hubert Zemke, shooting down two. His own squadron was then attacked by other P-47s arriving at the engagement, and he was shot down by 56th Fighter Group ace Captain Joseph Powers, Jr., and his wingman, F/O Joseph Vitale. Rall had a thumb shot off and was hospitalized for many months because of the onset of infections. He returned to active duty in November.

His last posting was with Jagdgeschwader 300, operating from a variety of airfields in southern Germany during the last months of the war. It is unlikely that he saw much combat action during this period. He was taken prisoner by American forces after the fighting in Germany ended.

Whilst in a prisoner of war camp near Heidelberg, Rall was approached by the Americans who were gathering Luftwaffe pilots that had experience of the Messerschmitt Me 262 fighter. Rall was transferred to Bovingdon near Hemel Hempstead. Rall was then based at RAF Tangmere, where he met the RAF ace Robert Stanford Tuck, with whom he became close friends.

After being unable to find work after the war, labelled a "militarist" (although officers were not allowed to be members of the Nazi Party). Rall eventually joined Siemens as a representative, leaving in 1953. Günther Rall rejoined the military in 1956 and continued his career in the Luftwaffe der Bundeswehr after the re-militarization of West Germany in 1955. From 1 January 1971 to 31 March 1973, he held the position of Inspekteur der Luftwaffe der Bundeswehr and from 1 April 1974 to 13 October 1975, he was a military attache with NATO. At the end of his career he had attained the rank of Generalleutnant (Lt General).  With 275 kills to his credit, the faculty is proud to name Gunther Ralls as one of our FU heros.

 

 

Comments:

Posted by PaulMcWilliams on
Gunther Rall is a living legend! Wie gehts!
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